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Rev. Pfleger Delivers Poignant Baccalaureate Message to Class of 2013

Charlotte, N.C. (May 22, 2013) - In his Baccalaureate address on May 17, Rev. Micheal Pfleger of Chicago’s Archdiocese advised the Class of 2013 to use their diplomas to make America a better world. “There are people across America who want to see if you will come out and change the world and make it what it’s supposed to be,” he said.

Pfleger has been recognized nationally by the media for his activism on social issues. He is also the founder of the Employment Resource Center, the Ark Youth Center and Samaritan House for the homeless. Since 1968, Pfleger has lived and ministered in the African-American community on the west and south sides of Chicago.

During his highly charged delivery, Pfleger shared sobering statistics about poverty and violence in the nation, noting there are more people in poverty today than in 1968 when the Rev. Martin Luther King started a war against poverty. “Something is wrong with a nation that creates beggars and sends children from second class schools to first class prisons,” he said. “The quality of education still relies on your race, your class and your zip code.”

Pfleger went on to say 1.2 million children are lost to the streets each year. In 1997, he became a foster father to Jarvis Franklin, who was tragically killed as a result of gang crossfire the following year. He called violence “a business in America” noting in the past six years, 508 children have been killed in Chicago. “To the NRA, I am tired of you making money off the blood running down the streets of Chicago,” he said.

He left the students with a challenge to “become the conscious of the world and to make the systems of the world nervous.” 

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 23 fields of study to more than 1,600 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s excellent academic programs focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility. For more information about JCSU, visit or follow the university on social media sites Facebook , Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and

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