A small Vermont college has chosen a highly controversial commencement speaker: Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia cop in 1981. Officer Daniel Faulkner's widow calls the move "despicable," Fox News reports: "It seems like our justice system allows murderers to continue to have a voice over the public airwaves and at college commencement." Abu-Jamal, a graduate of the college, has given commencement speeches in the past, prompting protests. The speech will be prerecorded.
Goddard College's interim president voiced support for the move. "Our commencements are intimate affairs where each student serves as her or his own valedictorian, and each class chooses its own speaker," Bob Kenny says. The choice shows students expressing "their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that." Abu-Jamal, who is a journalist and author, was on death row before his sentence was changed to life in prison. Supporters have called him innocent, pointing to racism in his contentious case, NBC 10 reports.