NPR’s Michele Norris to deliver 2019 Ford School Commencement Address

April 24, 2019

This year the Ford School is honored to welcome noted journalist Michele Norris as the keynote speaker at the 2019 commencement for our graduating BA, MPP, MPA, and PhD students.

Norris, born in Minnesota, graduated with a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Minnesota. Starting as a local news reporter, Norris was soon featured in The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. She then became a correspondent for ABC News from 1993-2002, before joining NPR’s “All Things Considered,” becoming their first female African-American host. She stepped down from that role and any political news coverage in 2012 as her husband, Broderick D. Johnson (University of Michigan alumnus and Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force), was appointed to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. 

During her career at NPR, Norris founded “The Race Card Project,” which collects submissions of people’s experience with race in six words. She and her collaborators won a Peabody Award in 2014 for their work, and in 2015 she made this her main journalistic focus. 

Along with her Peabody Award, Norris is the recipient of many distinguished accolades. She received Emmy and Peabody Awards in 2002 for her coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks while at ABC. In 2009 the National Association of Black Journalists named her “Journalist of the Year” following her coverage of the 2008 presidential election. And in 2013, the University of Michigan presented Norris with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

In 2010, Norris published her first book The Grace of Silence: A Memoir, chronicling her own experience of race and how that shaped her founding and involvement with “The Race Card Project”. Norris is often a featured commentator on PBS and NPR, as well as a featured lecturer on identity. Recently she moderated a conversation with former First Lady Michelle Obama on her book Becoming. 

Commencement ceremonies will be held on Saturday, May 4, 4:30-6:30 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium and available to view via livestream.