FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2009
Jo Kadlecek, senior writer
Office of College Communications
WENHAM, MA--Two prominent leaders in the modern antislavery movement have been chosen to address the Gordon College Class of 2009 during the 117th graduation ceremonies.
For the graduates’ final worship service on Friday, May 15, Rev. Gloria White Hammond, M.D., will speak at the 5 p.m. Baccalaureate Service in the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel. On Saturday, May 16, at 10 a.m. on the quad in front of Frost Hall, Dr. David Batstone will address the class during the Commencement Ceremony. This year an estimated 375 students will receive bachelor's degrees in the liberal arts and sciences from Gordon.
Dr. Batstone, a professor of ethics in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco, started his career guarding Salvadorans and literacy teachers from death squads. Because of his work with the Not For Sale Campaign, an organization committed to ending global slavery, he spoke in Gordon College’s chapel in October 2007, telling students “they were uniquely prepared to take part in the movement to stop global human trafficking.”
“This will be one of the primary issues today’s college students will face, but I believe yours will be the generation to end it,” he said.
When he learned 27 million people were in slavery today, he decided to travel the globe to see for himself what was happening with children and adults being captured and enslaved. He also met abolitionists working to free them. As a result of his experiences, he began the Not For Sale Campaign, working to expose the plight of those in slavery, bringing what he called “the invisible to the visible.” Ever since he and his students have worked to identify and map those places where human trafficking occurs around the U.S. and the world, making the problem visible.
Dr. Batstone is also a regular columnist and consultant for several publications, news outlets and organizations. Bono referred to him as a “heroic character.” Anita Coco, media production manager at Gordon College and advisor to Gordon’s student-run chapter of the Not For Sale Campaign, refers to Batstone as “a compassionate daredevil. He’s a fearless risk-taker, with a burning compassion for the oppressed.”
Though she considers herself shy and soft-spoken, Gordon College Baccalaureate speaker, Rev. Gloria White-Hammond, M.D., has been a powerful voice for justice and compassion throughout the world. Since 1981 she has worked as a pediatrician at the South End Community Health Center, and since 1997 has served as copastor (with her husband, Rev. Ray Hammond, M.D.,) of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston. Her history of community service is long and inspiring: she founded a church-based creative writing mentoring ministry, which serves over 550 young black women; coleads a Torah/Bible study for Christian and Jewish women; and serves on several boards for health and community organizations.
Once she learned of Africa's current slave trade, she travelled to Sudan to help purchase the freedom of 10,000 slaves. She has served as a medical missionary throughout Africa and cofounded My Sister’s Keeper, a ministry that partners with women of southern war-torn Sudan and provides microenterprising projects and school sponsorship. In 2005 Dr. White-Hammond traveled to Darfur to learn from female victims of genocide in internally displaced persons camps. She served as the national chairperson of the Million Voices for Darfur campaign and currently cochairs the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur. Dr. White-Hammond is a mother, grandmother and role model to countless women and men because of her Christian service and work for all people.
(In the case of inclement weather, the Commencement Ceremony will take place inside the Bennett Center and will only be open to ticketed individuals.) Information about this year's ceremony is available on the Commencement pages of the Gordon website.
For more information contact the Gordon College Office of College Communications at 978.867.4752.