Spike Lee is coming to Baltimore—not to shoot a film, but to give a commencement speech at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University.
Lee, who is not only a film maker but also a pivotal voice in the movement for racial equality, is offering the graduation address at a school whose student body is 44 percent White and 5 percent Black, according to the College Board.
His latest film “Chi-raq” is another film in his storied collection that addresses and combats problems in the African-American community. Lee has written and directed numerous films that tackled racial inequality directly such as “Jungle Fever,” “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X.”
He’ll be in Baltimore shortly after the anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray and the civil unrest that followed.
Lee commented on the Baltimore unrest at the Canadian Music Week in Toronto last year:
“This whole stuff is not new,” he said. “People have cameras. We saw with Rodney King. Everybody now has a phone that can record something and now people are capturing it. We saw it with Eric Garner in Staten Island. Was the same exact chokehold we saw in ‘Do the Right Thing’ to Radio Raheem. We saw in South Carolina; we’ve seen it in Baltimore. And so, please don’t believe that this is a phenomenon. That is all of a sudden sweeping America. Now it’s just being caught; everybody now with a camera is a photojournalist.”
Lee also gained headlines when he joined Baltimore native Jada Pinkett-Smith in boycotting the Oscars due to the lack of diversity among the nominees. Not one single minority was nominated for the more prominent categories.
Lee has done everything under the sun that involves film, from directing to acting. Being an honorary graduate from Johns Hopkins will also be added to Lee’s accolades come this spring.
The ceremony, set for May 18, will be held at Royal Farms Arena and is not open to the public.