June 04, 2011
Mr. President: It is my honor to present to you, the trustees, and the graduating class of 2011, Majora Carter for the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
Majora Carter earned this degree by giving voice and substance to a radically simple but profoundly powerful set of ideas.
Just as Nelson Mandela declared "let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all," Majora Carter has taught us that the environment is the vital and visible connection between a community's health and wealth; that beauty matters; that the image of ourselves as human beings is profoundly shaped by the splendor of our surroundings; that justice demands, in her words, that no community should be saddled with more environmental burdens and less environmental benefits; and that the right way forward is to make sustainability, policy making, entrepreneurship and community planning more green, more democratic, more accountable, and more just.
Born and nurtured in the South Bronx -- a community she has never left -- Majora Carter through her path breaking work gave life to the words "Green the Ghetto" and "Green is the New Black." Her vision is realized in Hunts Point Riverside Park, the first of its kind in the South Bronx in sixty years; the South Bronx Greenway with its 11 miles of bike and pedestrian paths bringing together water, people, neighborhoods, and the broader community; and in the green roofs, green jobs, and green graduates from training and placement programs she created to enable young people like her to attend college for the first time.
We are not the first to recognize her for what she has accomplished. This founder, entrepreneur and leader of the Sustainable South Bronx, this "genius" certified by the MacArthur Foundation, this "prophet of local" as Ashoka calls her; this Peabody Award Winning journalist continues to export the vision and progress that lives in her work to communities around the block and around the planet, so that more men and women can enjoy the birthrights of their humanity and "unlock," in her words, "the potential in their communities."
We honor her because her mission inspires us. We all live together at a crossroads where the economy, the environment, and our dignity are connected. The movement that she helped create, empowering people to live healthier, more meaningful and abundant lives, is central to the vision and aspiration of Knox College.
Mr. President, it is my honor and privilege to present Majora Juliette Carter for the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
Presented by Knox College Trustee John Podesta '71