Parents and Families


Bryan Stevenson, a noted civil rights attorney who has worked to exonerate prisoners on death row, will deliver the University of Michigan Spring Commencement virtual address to graduates on May 1. A bestselling author whose memoir, “Just Mercy,” was adapted into a 2019 major motion picture, Stevenson, played by Michael B. Jordan in the movie, founded the Equal Justice Initiative in 1989 to provide legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons. He continues to serve as its executive director.

In addition, famed choreographer Twyla Tharp will give the Rackham Graduate Exercises virtual address on April 30. Tharp founded a dance company, Twyla Tharp Dance, in 1965, and has choreographed more than 160 works, including 129 dances, 12 television specials, six Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines.

The two speakers, both MacArthur Fellows, are a key part of the university’s plans to conduct a robust and celebratory virtual commencement that will include student performances and speakers, and the conferring of degrees.