Chuck D of Public Enemy
Photo Credit: Ernie Paniccioli
Adelphi University will confer an honorary doctorate to alumnus Carlton Douglas Ridenhour ’84, better known as Chuck D, the leader of the hip-hop band Public Enemy. Chuck D will receive the degree and give remarks at Adelphi’s 117th Commencement on Sunday, May 19, 2013 as the ceremony’s featured speaker.
A native of Roosevelt, New York, Chuck D attended Adelphi University from 1978–1984, earning his B.F.A. During his time at Adelphi, the University radio station, WBAU, was becoming a hub for the early expansion of the hip-hop movement. Chuck D worked at WBAU, wrote music and deejayed a program that featured the artists who would later go on to form Public Enemy in 1986.
In 1987, Public Enemy released its first album, but it was the band’s second album, 1988’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, that made Public Enemy a household name. The album topped the R & B charts, was hailed as a hip-hop masterpiece and went on to sell more than a million copies. The Village Voice voted It Takes a Nation of Millions the best album of the year in its Pazz & Jop poll.
Public Enemy has continued to record and tour and, in 2012, it issued two albums, Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp and The Evil Empire of Everything. Public Enemy has had three platinum albums, eight gold albums, 12 studio album releases, two compilation albums, 22 singles and five indie albums.
In April 2013, Chuck D, with Public Enemy, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Prior awards and recognitions for Chuck D and Public Enemy include the 2008 TransAfrica Forum Pan-African Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2006 Billboard Founders Award, the Soul Train Music Awards Best Rap Album for Apocalypse ’91…The Enemy Strikes Black and MTV’s Rock the Vote Patrick Lippert Award, which is named for Rock the Vote’s founder, who died in 1993.
Chuck D is an Internet innovator, a best-selling author and a media commentator. On Twitter (@MrChuckD), he has more than 220,000 followers. He has served as a national spokesperson for Rock the Vote, the National Urban League and the National Alliance of African American Athletes and has appeared in public service announcements for HBO’s campaign for national peace and for the Partnership at Drugfree.org, formerly the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. He is a highly sought-after speaker, encouraging young people, especially those who are or may become the first in their families to attend college, to remember the value of their education and share their learning with their families and communities.
Chuck D currently splits his time between Ventura, California, and Roosevelt, New York, and is married to Gaye Theresa Johnson, Ph.D., who teaches at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
For more information and the full day’s program, please contact Adelphi’s Commencement Office at 516.877.4695 or visit adelphi.edu.Note to Media: Media must pre-register with Kali Chan by Saturday, May 18 by 3:00 p.m. All media are required to enter the Coliseum through Gate 5 and present media credentials. Call or text Kali Chan at 516.993.5677 or 631.521.5513 upon arrival at the Coliseum.
Adelphi is a world-class, modern university with excellent and highly relevant programs where students prepare for lives of active citizenship and professional careers. Through its schools and programs—College of Arts and Sciences, Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Honors College, Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, University College, College of Nursing and Public Health and the School of Social Work—the coeducational university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional and educational programs for adults. Adelphi University currently enrolls nearly 8,000 students from 43 states and 45 foreign countries. With its main campus in Garden City and its centers in Manhattan, Suffolk County, and Poughkeepsie, the University, chartered in 1896, maintains a commitment to liberal studies, in tandem with rigorous professional preparation and active citizenship.