John Ridley announced as commencement speaker


John Ridley will speak at the class of 2021 commencement. Photo courtesy of the Office of Marketing and Communication.

Academy Award winner and Milwaukee native John Ridley has been announced as Marquette’s 2021 commencement speaker and will be giving his remarks over video, according to Marquette Today.

The video will be shared on the evening of May 22, addressing 3,136 Marquette graduates before two in-person ceremonies take place the following day at American Family Field.

As a director, screenwriter, novelist, playwright and showrunner, Ridley is notable for winning an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “12 Years a Slave” and his 2017 documentary “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992.”

“John Ridley is a superb role model for our graduates as someone who illustrates the principle of intellectual excellence and has made social justice his life’s calling,” University President Michael Lovell said in a Marquette Today article, “His novels, screenplays and other writings regarding race relations and justice resonate with a Catholic, Jesuit education, in which critical thinking is the cornerstone of learning. His ability to so capably communicate the importance of storytelling in understanding our human experience will give our graduates a fitting and inspiring end to their Marquette journey.”

Ridley opened Nō Studios in Milwaukee back in 2018. The studio offers a workspace and community for artists and art lovers to come together. In 2019, Marquette cohosted Nō Studios’ inaugural social justice summit, “Art Activated.” The event brought together activists, artists, authors and academics to discuss the experiences of disenfranchisement while looking into solutions to social justice issues.

This story was written by Vanessa Rivera. She can be reached at [email protected]