Goddard College Selects Convicted Cop Killer as Fall Commencement Speaker

Katherine Rodriguez
By Katherine Rodriguez | October 1, 2014 | 10:14 AM EDT

A liberal-arts college in Vermont decided it would make some waves by selecting a murderous jailbird as its commencement speaker.

Goddard College announced Monday that alumnus Mumia Abu-Jamal, Class of '96, was selected by the Fall class of 2014 to speak at commencement this Saturday.

Prosecutors sentenced Abu-Jamal to death for the 1981 murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner.  The college gives more on this man's "illustrious" background:

Abu-Jamal was convicted in the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His original death sentence handed down at his trial in 1982 was commuted to life imprisonment without parole in 2011. He was then transferred from death row to the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Pa., where he resides today.

His formal biography at the bottom of the press release, however, paints him as a former "resident" of death row and prominent journalist - instead of as a criminal.

Abu-Jamal will make his virtual appearance in a video address to Goddard's fall graduating class on Sunday October 5 along filmmaker Steven Vittoria, who filmed a documentary about Abu-Jamal in 2012.  But if you're worried that this will be one of the only commencement speeches you'll find at Goddard- don't worry- the college hosts 20 different commencement ceremonies every year.

Photo Credit: Goddard College

While one college selects a convicted cop-killer for the esteemed tradition, several conservative commencement speakers have been banned from universities within the past two years.


  • In 2013, Dr. Ben Carson withdrew as Johns Hopkins' commencement speaker after students claimed he made some inflammatory remarks about gay marriage.
  • Former Bush Administration official Robert Zoellick withdrew from Swarthmore's commencement ceremony because students said he made comments about instigating the Iraq War.
  • Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice withdrew from Rutgers University's commencement ceremony because students protested her appearance.


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