William Raspberry, for more than two decades your commentary on politics, education, and race relations has contributed critically important perspectives to the national debate. Your analysis of the complex problems that confront our society combines the honed insights of a national oracle with plain common sense instilled by the small-town Mississippi schoolteachers who were your parents.With measured advice you suggest solutions to our toughest challenges. As America has struggled toward racial equality and harmony, your wise words have been a balm when healing was needed and a goad when progress has flagged. Those words, chosen with such extraordinary care, shine with the penetrating light of a formidable intellect. Yet, when you are confronted by a differing opinion or a better solution, your willingness to listen, and even to disavow an earlier conclusion, fosters a comity that is essential, but increasingly rare, in our national dialogue.
In your lifelong crusade for personal responsibility and social justice you are, like Elijah Parish Lovejoy, courageous in your willingness to buck the conventional wisdom of the day and to risk excoriation under the lash of partisan opinion. Colby is proud to add your name to the list of distinguished journalists who, through their careers, have upheld the ideals for which we revere Elijah Lovejoy.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, William Raspberry, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. The hood, with which you have been invested, and this diploma, which I place in your hand, are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.