Julian Bond, the chairman of the NAACP, will deliver this year's keynote address at Commencement, the University announced today.
The May 18 appearance on the National Mall coincides with the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's assassination.
University spokesperson Tracy Schario said the school recently extended the invitation to Bond, who also founded the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was first confirmed as an honorary degree recipient by the Board of Trustees. The full list of honorary degree recipients will not be released until May, Schario added.
In a news release, University President Steven Knapp said he was proud to have such an influential speaker.
"His extraordinary record of achievement as a social activist, writer, and teacher has won the admiration of our faculty, students, and trustees, and he honors our university by accepting this invitation," Knapp said.
Michael Tapscott, the director of the Multicultural Student Services Center, said he is a great selection.
"Given the nature of our times these days, especially after Democratic nominee Barack Obama's speech about race, I couldn't imagine a more timely speaker," Tapscott said Monday.
Bond has been active in politics for more than four decades. He served in the Georgia House of Representatives, the Georgia Senate and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House of Representatives.
He serves on several corporate boards and is a distinguished professor at American and a professor in history at Virginia.