A civil rights leader and an education pioneer will join New York City Mayor and keynote Commencement speaker Michael Bloomberg on the National Mall this May, to receive honorary degrees from the University.
The specific degrees William Coleman and Peggy Cooper Cafritz will receive have not been determined, a University spokeswoman said Wednesday. The University announced in November that Bloomberg, known for his extensive philanthropy, would receive an honorary doctor of public service.
Coleman was secretary of transportation from 1975 to 1977, making him the second African-American to serve in the president’s cabinet. In 2006, he was appointed to the Court of Military Commission Review. Coleman also co-authored the legal brief in Brown v. Board of Education, making him a significant player in civil rights cases.
“GW is proud to award these two inspiring individuals with honorary degrees,” Lorraine Voles, vice president of external relations, said. “From his military service in World War II to his advocacy in the courts to fight segregation and defeat Jim Crow… William T. Coleman Jr. exemplifies a true public servant and civil rights activist.”
Cafritz, co-founder of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in D.C., graduated from GW in 1971 with a doctor of law. While on campus, she helped found the Black Student Union and began a movement to desegregate sororities. Cafritz, who Voles called a ” tireless advocate,” went on to serve as the president of D.C.’s Board of Education from 2000 to 2006.
Bloomberg, who has served as the mayor of New York City since his election in 2002, is noted for his philanthropy.