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Commencement Address at University of San Francisco

University of San Francisco Commencement at St. Ignatius Church

(Source USF Commencement webpage)

Below is the speech that Frances Moore Lappé gave on May 18, 2019 at the University of San Francisco to accept the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, and deliver the Commencement Address to the graduates receiving degrees in the Humanities and Sciences from the College of Arts and Sciences.


Thank you, President, Dr. Rev. Fitzgerald and the Board of Trustees for the great honor you’ve bestowed on me. Good morning to you.

And, to Provost Heller, Dean Camperi, faculty and staff of the University, families, graduates, and dearest friends, good morning! To have your attention at this most auspicious moment in your lives is a huge honor. So huge, I feel I can do nothing less than pack a lifetime’s learning into 12 minutes. Or try! Imagine me just a few years older than you. I feared my community organizing work wasn’t addressing root causes of so much suffering around me. So, I stopped to ask: How do I get to the roots? I was terrified. I feared someone would ask me what I was doing with my life…and I’d have no answer. So I stayed home, cried…What if I never find direction? But soon a thought. Oh! Why don’t I start with what’s most basic of all… food. Everyone has to eat, and at the time, food and hunger were in our culture’s ether. Two books especially stirred fear: Population Bomb. scary. And Famine 1975 predicted imminent, widespread starvation. Hmmm…I thought: the first thing all living creatur