Oakland, CA—May 5, 2021
On Saturday, May 15, 2021, Alicia Garza, principal at Black Futures Lab, author of The Purpose of Power, and co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, will deliver the 133rd Commencement address as part of Mills College’s virtual graduation ceremony. Garza, an Oakland native, author and organizer, believes that Black communities deserve what all communities deserve—to be powerful in every aspect of their lives. She founded the Black Futures Lab to make Black communities powerful in politics, and is the co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter and the Black Lives Matter Global Network.
In addition to her foundational role in this watershed racial justice movement, Garza has also dedicated herself to upholding and advancing labor protections for US workers and creating incubators for women and people of color to engage in politics and community organizing. Currently, she directs strategy and partnerships for the National Domestic Workers Alliance; and is co-founder of Supermajority, a home for women’s activism.
Garza’s thought leadership and prodigious work as a strategist and organizer have made her a widely regarded political analyst who has received numerous accolades and recognitions. Her first book, The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, was released last October. Garza’s opinion pieces and expert commentary also have appeared in TIME, MSNBC, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Guardian, Elle, and Essence. Garza was featured on the cover of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World Issue and was named by that same publication among its 100 Women of the Year in 2020. That same year she appeared on Bloomberg’s 50 and BBC’s 100 Women lists; she has also been featured on Fortune’s 40 Under 40, Fast Company’s Queer 50, and Politico 50 lists. The Root has ranked Garza among its 100 Most Influential African Americans three times over; Glamour magazine conferred its Women of the Year Award to her and fellow #BlackLivesMatter co-creators; and BET acknowledged her as a Community Change Agent as part of its annual Black Girls Rock! award show celebrating the accomplishments of remarkable African American women.
At this year’s Commencement, Mills will confer an honorary degree to Garza in recognition of her dedication to community uplift and her pursuit of gender and racial justice. Her clarity of vision and leadership have helped to build broad-based coalitions that combat racism and police brutality, anti-worker practices, and violence against transgender and gender nonconforming people of color. With the conferral of this degree, Garza joins a distinguished group of Mills College honorary degree recipients that includes Maya Angelou, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Dolores Huerta.
About Mills College
Located in Oakland, California, Mills is a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women and gender nonbinary students, with graduate programs for all genders. Ranked one of the top-tier regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report, Mills is also recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the Best 386 Colleges in the nation. As one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country, Mills has a strong record of academic success with first-generation students, students of color, Latinx students, LGBTQ+ students, and other underrepresented students. The Mills experience is distinguished by small, interactive classes, one-on-one attention from exceptional faculty, a culture of creative experimentation, and cutting-edge interdisciplinary learning opportunities which empower students to make a statement in their careers and communities.
For Media Inquiries Contact: