State Sen. Dan T. Blue to speak at Livingstone College commencement Saturday
SALISBURY — The 2018 graduating class of Livingstone College will experience a full-circle moment during May commencement Saturday.
State Sen. Dan T. Blue Jr. was the guest speaker for fall convocation in 2014, when the senior class members were freshmen. Four years later, Blue is returning as the keynote speaker for their graduation.
Livingstone College will hold its 136th annual commencement at 9 a.m. Saturday at Alumni Memorial Football Stadium.
“Having Sen. Dan Blue to return to address the same student body he did four years ago is serendipitous,” said Livingstone President Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr. “He welcomed them in on the first leg of their journey, and now he will bid them a fond farewell on the next chapter of their lives with what I’m sure will be great advice for success.”
A native of Lumberton, Blue was first elected in 1980 to the state House of Representatives, representing Wake County. He has been re-elected 10 times. He held several leadership positions in the House, including chairman of the Judiciary and Appropriations committees.
From 1991 to 1995, Blue was twice elected speaker of the House and is considered by many peers to be a leader and mentor. After serving 22 years in the House, he left the legislature to run for U.S. Senate in 2002. He returned to the House in 2006 and now represents Wake County in the N.C. Senate, where he is the Democratic leader.
Blue attended Robeson County public schools. At North Carolina Central University, he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1970. He attended Duke University School of Law, where he graduated in 1973.
He was hired by one of North Carolina’s leading law firms, Sanford, Cannon, Adams and McCullough, and became one of the first blacks to integrate the state’s major law firms. He formed a practice with several associates in 1976.
Today, he is managing partner of that firm, Blue, Stephens and Fellers (formerly Thigpen, Blue, Stephens and Fellers), in Raleigh, where his two sons and daughter-in-law practice with him.
Blue has received many awards and served on the executive committees of the Southern Legislative Conference and the State and Local Legal Center in Washington. He has served as a member of the Democratic National Committee. He just completed a second term as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Blue is the recipient of nine honorary doctorate degrees and is also the 2013 recipient of the Duke University Medal for Distinguished Meritorious Service. He is a past chairman of the Duke University board of trustees.
Blue lives in Raleigh with his wife, the former Edna Earle Smith, a civic and community leader. They are the parents of three adult children and grandparents of five girls and two boys.
Livingstone’s baccalaureate service will begin at 7 p.m. Friday at Varick Auditorium with Bishop Dennis V. Proctor as the guest speaker.
Proctor is presiding bishop of North Eastern Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Zion Church. A native of New York, he received his bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude) from Livingstone College, his master’s in pastoral care and counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary, his juris doctor from Ohio State, and a doctor of ministry degree from United Theological Seminary.
He is a member of the Livingstone College board of trustees.
The Class of 1968 will celebrate its 50th class reunion this weekend with events across campus and the city. Class members will be recognized during commencement as Golden Graduates.
“We look forward to welcoming our graduates and their families, as well as alumni and friends to our campus this weekend as we honor this academic milestone in the lives of our students,” Jenkins said. “We are grateful these students chose to matriculate at our institution and endured the race to the finish line. We now challenge them and their families to continue their support of Livingstone College so that we may continue to strive.”
In case of bad weather, Saturday’s commencement will be held in Varick Auditorium.