Bill Cosby emphasizes self value in commencement address

May 20, 2009

Comedian and actor Bill Cosby underscored the importance of self value in a commencement speech delivered May 10 at St. Paul's College, an Episcopal college, in Lawrenceville, Virginia.

"Saint Paul's is small but still a jewel, and just like a jewel, if you keep applying pressure it becomes more valuable -- as do you since you are a graduate of Saint Paul's," said Cosby to the 114 students receiving bachelor's degrees. "The beauty of who you are is in the value of yourself. You cannot let other individuals, who are not in your shoes, determine and judge your self-value."

More then 1,500 people attended the college's 121st commencement ceremony held in the Taylor-Whitehead Gymnasium. Following the commencement speech, St. Paul's President Robert L. Satcher, Sr., and Kerby Parker, chairman of the Board of Trustees, presented Cosby with an honorary doctorate of humane letters in recognition of his work as a "humanitarian extraordinaire." The Rev. Richard L. Tolliver, rector of St. Edmund's Episcopal Church in Chicago, also received an honorary doctoral degree in humane letters.

Archdeacon James Solomon Russell, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Southern Virginia and the son of freed slaves, founded the Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School on September 24, 1888, with fewer than one dozen students, most of whom were ex-slaves or children of ex-slaves.