Many Black Students and Alumni at Northwestern University Call for the Institution to Honor Its Offer of an Honorary Degree for Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Tomorrow, Northwestern University will hold its commencement exercises. Originally, the university had planned to bestow an honorary degree on Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the recently retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. But when Reverend Wright was widely criticized for controversial comments he made from the pulpit, Northwestern announced that it had rescinded its offer of an honorary degree. The university stated that it did not want the controversy to distract from the celebration of the Class of 2008.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama had been a member of the church for 20 years but resigned after the Wright controversy became front-page news.

But the Black Student Alliance and the Black Alumni Association at Northwestern sought to reinstate the honor for Reverend Wright. The groups collected more than 1,200 signatures on a petition demanding the university reconsider its position.