Congressman John Lewis tells FSU grads to 'get in trouble'

Congressman John Lewis tells FSU grads to 'get in trouble'

May 28, 2019

Growing up in the segregated south, Congressman John Lewis was encouraged by his family to keep his head down and avoid calling attention to the injustices he witnessed every day.

“They said, ‘Boy, that’s the way it is. Don’t get in the way, don’t get in trouble,’” Lewis told Framingham State University’s Class of 2019 during a packed ceremony at the DCU Center in Worcester on May 26th. “But I was inspired to get in trouble: good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Lewis was arrested more than 40 times on his way to becoming a hero of the Civil Rights Movement. His efforts helped desegregate the south and win voting rights for African Americans. Since being elected to Congress in 1986, he has added to that arrest total while participating in sit-ins and peaceful protests.

“I’ll probably be arrested again,” he told the graduates, earning a loud cheer. “Go out there and get in trouble. Help create a beloved community. You can do it, you must.”

Framingham State conferred 849 bachelor’s degrees during the undergraduate ceremony. The University also awarded honorary doctoral degrees in Public Service to Congressman Lewis and Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka, who encouraged students to heed the call to public service during her remarks.

“Service starts by connecting to your neighbor and your local community,” Spilka said. “Go out and fight for what you believe in with all your heart.”

The University’s President’s Medal, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Office of the President, was awarded to FSU alumna Joan Murtaugh ‘61 for her dedication to teaching and longtime support of FSU students through scholarships. Distinguished Faculty Awards were presented to Chemistry Professor Catherine Dignam (Excellence in Teaching), Art History Professor Erika Schneider (Excellence in Scholarship or Creative Work), Food and Nutrition Professor Suzanne Neubauer (Excellence in Advising/Mentoring), and Psychology Professor Robert Donohue (Excellence in Professional Service).

Three students were recognized as co-valedictorians of the Class of 2019: Communication Arts Major Audrey Ensor, Elementary Education Major Jennifer Haberstroh, and Psychology Major Robin White.

The University conferred 401 master’s degrees during the graduate ceremony in the afternoon. Longtime Literacy Professor Dr. Diane Lowe gave the keynote address, telling students to keep learning by reading “far and wide” and help make the world a better place.

“Do something that makes a difference and that brings you joy,” she said. “Teaching did that for me.”

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.