Virgil Wood, church leader, educator, and civil rights activist, will give the keynote address at the 2018 Virginia Tech Graduate School Commencement ceremony at 2:30 p.m. on May 10, in Cassell Coliseum on the Blacksburg campus.

Wood is a Ridenour Fellow with the School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and leads the Virginia Tech-Virginia Union University Beloved Community Initiative.

He was ordained as a Baptist minister in his late teens and has served churches for over 50 years. He became actively involved in the civil rights movement during his pastorate in Lynchburg, Virginia. 

Wood served with Martin Luther King Jr. as a member of his National Executive Board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; he worked closely with him for 10 years. He also coordinated the state of Virginia in the historic "March on Washington" on Aug. 28, 1963.

As an administrator for Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America, a job training organization serving disadvantaged and underskilled Americans of all races, he assisted in founding and establishing 13 OIC centers in eight southern states, and in Boston, Massachusetts. He also served as a panelist and member of three White House conferences under the Johnson, Nixon, and Carter administrations.

He has combined his dual career in church leadership and education with a lifelong commitment to community development.

Wood received his bachelor of arts degree from Virginia Union University and holds a doctorate in education from Harvard University. His publications include “In Love We Trust: Lessons I Learned from Martin Luther King,” “The Jubilee Bible,” and “Introduction to Black Church Economic Studies.”

The commencement website has a complete schedule of all departmental and college convocation ceremonies. Virginia Tech will offer live streaming video of both the Graduate School Commencement and University Commencement ceremonies from the university homepage.


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