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National Radio Personality Joyner is NCCU Commencement Speaker
Published: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tom Joyner, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and longtime supporter of historically black universities, will deliver the Commencement address at North Carolina Central University in its Centennial Year.

NCCU’s Commencement ceremony will be held May 15 at 8 a.m. in O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on the university’s campus. Nearly 800 students will receive undergraduate and graduate degrees at the school’s 115th commencement.

“Few people in the United States have demonstrated greater appreciation and support for African-American institutions of higher learning than has Tom Joyner,” said NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms. “In light of the successes and challenges that NCCU has faced in its 100-year history, I think it’s particularly appropriate that someone with Joyner’s love for higher education will speak to our graduates on the commencement of our Centennial Class.”

NCCU opened its doors as the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua on July 5, 1910. In 1925, it became the first African-American liberal arts college in the nation to receive state funding. It became one of the constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina system in 1972.

Joyner is host of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” a syndicated radio show that airs in more than 115 markets nationwide and reaches 8 million listeners. It is the nation’s highest-ranking syndicated “urban” morning radio program. The show features Joyner and a team of comedians and commentators that report and discuss news and sports of the day. Celebrity guests, elected officials and civic leaders regularly appear on the show.

His nonprofit Tom Joyner Foundation, established in 1998, raises money to provide scholarships for students with financial need while also supporting the financial health of African-American educational institutions. The foundation has raised more than $55 million. One of the Foundation’s most celebrated scholarships — the Hercules Scholar Program, named after Joyner’s father, Hercules Joyner — was designed to help retain black males attending college. Every month, the Foundation designates a “school of the month” when it works with the college to raise money from alumni, friends and supporters. NCCU is the Foundation’s August school.

For a year, Joyner also hosted a television show, “The Tom Joyner Show.” The one-hour comedy and variety show quickly achieved top ratings and attracted advertisers including McDonalds, Southwest Airlines and Walmart. The show airs in reruns on the TV One cable network.

Joyner has written or co-written “I’m Just a DJ but…It Makes Sense to Me,” and “Tom Joyner Presents How to Prepare for College.” The former title is an autobiography of his childhood and early days in radio, and it contains Joyner’s thoughts on historically black colleges, fatherhood and the power of African-American consumers.

Joyner starred with his father and grandfather in “Rising from the Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter,” a documentary that chronicled his grandfather’s rise from Pullman porter to medical doctor. In the film, Joyner emphasizes how his family passed down important values that he, in turn, has passed down to his sons.

Joyner currently is featured in “African-American Lives 2,” a four-part PBS series that traces the genealogies of several prominent black people. Hosted by Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., the show uncovers that in 1915, an all-white jury in South Carolina convicted two of Joyner’s great uncles of killing a white man. The two uncles, both prosperous landowners, were sent to the electric chair. Evidence uncovered by “Lives” researchers suggests that the men were innocent, and Joyner and Gates say they will petition the South Carolina government to exonerate them posthumously.

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