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Martin R. Castro

Commencement speaker fights for social justice

Posted: 05/25/2012

December’s Commencement speaker talked about something he practices every day: giving back to the community. Martin R. Castro, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, gave up a lucrative position as an attorney with an international law firm to serve others, especially those whose rights are being violated.

“I am glad to fight for social justice and change,” he told Roosevelt University’s summer Martin R. Castro, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, spoke at Roosevelt’s Commencement ceremony on Dec. 16. and fall graduates. “I encourage you not to let your careers be timid and safe. We need you to be involved in the effort.”

The first in his family to graduate from high school, college and law school, Castro, whose parents came to the United States from Mexico, is president of Castro Synergies, which provides organizations with strategic advice on how to have positive social impacts on diverse communities.

Castro told the audience that receiving a doctor of humane letters degree from Roosevelt “means the world to me.” To illustrate his point, he translated a saying from his father, which declares: “Tell me who you are with and I’ll tell you who you are.” “Now I am part of the Roosevelt family,” he said proudly.

“Don’t let yourself be a commodity,” he said. “You are graduates of a University founded on the principles of social justice. You need to add value to your country – volunteer, tutor, be on a board, mentor, provide a different perspective.”

Castro was appointed in January 2011 by President Barack Obama to chair the nation’s civil rights commission. In this role, he makes recommendations to the president and Congress regarding civil rights issues.