May 24, 2004

Emory Voices


Thoughts from other 2004 honorary degree recipients:

Caroline Walker Bynum
“Being part of a group—a family, a work group, a nation, a world—means we can’t just keep quiet when we see something going wrong. If someone among us does something ill-advised, we have to say so. If someone needs help, we have to offer it.

At the present moment, we’re all surrounded by cell phones chattering, TVs clamoring, computers dinging, “You’ve got mail.” And we sometimes want to crawl in a corner and pull the covers over our head and let someone else take care of it. But we know we have to speak up.

On the most practical level I’d say there have been many cases in my life where I’ve observed someone in apparent trouble, agonized about whether or not I should interfere and finally decided, hesitantly, to say, “Can I help?” I’m certain that never once has the decision to say something rather than nothing been wrong.

The second thing I’d like to say about community is that the community in which we embed ourselves, from which we take our support, is really our immortality. Those of you who are my age here today are the parents and the teachers and will probably not see the world that you graduates will see in 2050 or 2070, but by our being a part of your community, we see further than we can alone. It is through you that we cast our hopes into the future.”

LeRoy Walker
“We had the good fortune of training some of our Olympic athletes here on this campus before we went to Los Angeles for the games. And a belated thank you to the mothers. We know well the role that you have played in the development of these graduates today. I hope that they would recognize the significance of what your contributions have been and how important they are to their development. And you’ve heard some of these reminders by our distinguished keynote speaker. She’s made it clear that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

I would have you also to understand as I listened to Ms. Robinson, that achievement is always seemingly on the other side of sacrifice. I believe captured by her words, graduates, your administrators here and your faculty and your staff, clearly understand the tremendous role they have played in preparing you to go out and face this very demanding society.”