2013 Commencement Speaker
Judge Greg Mathis
Judge Mathis is a national figure known for his advocacy campaigns for equal justice. His inspirational life story of a street youth who rose from jail to Judge has provided hope to millions who watch him on the award-winning television court show, “Judge Mathis,” each day.
Judge Mathis’ public service career began in college, where he led Free South Africa and voter registration campaigns on campus. After graduating from college in 1983, he joined the staff of Detroit City Councilman Clyde Cleveland and continued to work as an advocate for equal justice with Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH, where he currently serves as vice president, and also as a national board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Morehouse School of Medicine.
Mathis received his bachelor of science degree from Eastern Michigan University in1983 and received his juris doctor degree from the University of Detroit School of Law in 1987. During this time and thereafter, Judge Mathis continued his work in politics, organizing over a dozen major campaigns resulting in the election of numerous politicians.
In his efforts to reach out to youth both in and outside of the courtroom, Judge Mathis and his wife, Linda, have assisted thousands of youth with their non-profit agency, Young Adults Asserting Themselves (Y.A.A.T.), an outreach initiative that provides youth ages 17-25 with career and job opportunities as well as job training and college enrollment assistance.
They have also opened five non-profit preschools in the inner city of Detroit, while continuing to raise over $5 million for a variety of equal justice political and youth causes.
Mathis is dedicated to offering youth second chances and spreads his message of youth empowerment and equal justice as he travels to speak to audiences all across the country. His national education and youth crusades have attracted tens of thousands of parents and students throughout America.
He has received numerous awards and accolades from city, state, and government officials and has been recognized for his efforts by numerous newspapers, magazines and television affiliates such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN, and has appeared on such shows as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Today Show, Larry King Live, HLN, Issues with Jane Velez, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
His inspirational story of a young man who rose from delinquent to Michigan District Court judge is chronicled in his 2002 autobiography Inner City Miracle. Mathis is married and the proud father of four children and currently provides legal and community assistance.