Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) was conferred with the degree of Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Johannesburg, at its Humanities convocation ceremony on May 9, 2023.
It was an emotionally moving ceremony of celebration as university students from Soweto and elsewhere, and academics, thanked Sir Hilary for his lifelong work in the advancement of global justice and the bending of scholarship in the service of democracy.
Professor Beckles was welcomed home to Africa as a son who continues to fight bravely for his people on both sides of the Atlantic.
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, the university orator noted, “has emerged an iconic leader of the global reparations movement, a distinguished Vice-Chancellor in the arena of strategic planning for higher education, a United Nations official for sustainable development advocacy and a world-renowned historian with honorary awards from many other universities. The combination of academic excellence, effective advocacy, and insightful administration illustrates Sir Hilary’s intellectual versatility, passion and commitment for justice, and visionary leadership.”
Sir Hilary in response thanked the university for its kindness and generosity, and noted how proud he feels to be a graduate of such an extraordinary institution.
He informed the gathering that he accepts the honour on behalf of The UWI that has long admired the University of Johannesburg for its intellectual leadership and pioneering research for African development.