The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) is pleased to announce that United States Senator Raphael Warnock will be the guest speaker at a special convocation on Wednesday, April 3, at 1 p.m. in the Elridge Wilburn Blake Sports and Fitness Center on UVI's Orville E. Kean Campus on St. Thomas.  The convocation will be livestreamed on UVI's Facebook page @UVI.edu and YouTube page @UVIvideos, allowing a wider audience to participate in this special event. 


Reverend Warnock made history as the first Black U.S. Senator to represent Georgia, the first Black Democrat to represent a southern state in the Senate and is only the 11th black U.S. Senator in the nation's history. The topic of Sen. Warnock’s talk is “In Search for the Soul of the Nation.” Rev. Warnock serves as the senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home of the Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 


“I am honored and excited that Senator Warnock will be the keynote speaker of my last distinguished student convocation as president of this fine University,” said UVI President Dr. David Hall. “Senator Warnock has been a champion for equality, social justice, and education throughout his career. He has an impressive background in public service and advocacy, which aligns seamlessly with the University's commitment to fostering a community of critical thinkers and engaged citizens.”  


 “This convocation will provide our students, faculty, staff, and community members with a unique opportunity to engage with Senator Warnock's insights on pressing issues facing our society today. His address promises to inspire and engage all attendees, encouraging us to reflect on the importance of education and civic responsibility,” said Dr. Hall, who would like the entire community to attend this convocation.  


 Sen. Warnock has some history with UVI. In 2017, Rev. Warnock and his parishioners hosted Dr. Hall and Dr. Marilyn Braithwaite-Hall at the Ebenezer Baptist Church to give aid to the University after the 2017 category five hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands. Also, Warnock gave the keynote address and received an honorary degree at UVI’s 2021 commencement ceremony held virtually during the pandemic.  


  Under Rev. Warnock's leadership, Ebenezer Baptist Church has experienced significant growth, with over 5,000 new members joining the congregation. He has also spearheaded a successful fundraising campaign to build the $8.5 million Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resources Complex, which provides essential services and support to individuals and families in need. 


As a pastor, Rev. Warnock is a staunch advocate for voting rights, social justice, criminal justice reform, public education, healthcare, and HIV/AIDS awareness. His commitment to defending the downtrodden and disenfranchised is reflected in his preaching and fierce public advocacy. 


Rev. Warnock is a highly respected opinion leader and has been featured on various media platforms, including CNN, MSNBC, CBS, The Huffington Post, and Newsweek magazine. He is also the author of the book "The Divided Mind of the Black Church; Theology, Piety & Public Witness." 


Currently, Sen. Warnock serves on several committees in the U.S. Senate, including Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and the Special Committee on Aging. 


The public is invited to attend this free event, which will be the final student convocation under Dr. Hall’s administration. In 2017, the University held a student convocation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor on St. Thomas and in 2020 former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. 


 For more information about the convocation and to access the livestream, please visit UVI's website https://www.uvi.edu