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  • Vive Griffith

Clemente's Turning 25 -- Celebrate with Us!

In the spring of 1996, the Clemente Course in the Humanities graduated its first class in a ceremony attended by New York City Mayor David Dinkins. The radical idea championed by Clemente founder Earl Shorris had come to life.

Since that first course, Clemente has grown and evolved into a network of programs spanning the globe that has served as a turning point for tens of thousands of students.

"From the moment I stepped into that class, they made me feel that I was worthy. Knowing and being made to feel that we belong and that our voice and intelligence matter made all the difference.” --Lamont Smith, 1997 graduate, Clemente board member

Today there are 35 Clemente Courses operating across the U.S. from rural Washington State to Atlanta, from Los Angeles to Boston. There are courses for veterans, for young mothers, and for those transitioning out of incarceration. There are second-year courses and special writing seminars that lead to publications in anthologies. Clemente is thriving and looking toward its next 25 years.

We will be celebrating our silver anniversary all year, and you’re invited to celebrate with us.

Graduates of Chicago's Clemente Course, the Odyssey Project

To begin with, we’ll tell the story of Clemente through a season of social media fun. To join in, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Keep an eye on our blog for new stories and profiles. Look for #Clemente25.

We’ll share 25 lessons from 25 years, revealing what we have learned over more than a quarter century about bringing humanities courses to underserved adults.

We’ll trace Clemente’s history through its major milestones, from its founding in Lower Manhattan through courses launched on the cusp of a global pandemic in 2020.

We’ll meet Clemente graduates, faculty, staff, and board members who will share what the program means to them.

And we’ll highlight how each local program opens doors for adults to explore their intellectual potential, engage in powerful conversations, and ultimately find new meaning and purpose in their lives.

Please save the date -- September 30! -- for an exclusive Clemente screening of the documentary film A Reckoning in Boston, which will air on PBS in 2022. Details to follow soon.

We have much to celebrate! The party has just begun. We hope you’ll join us.

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