Local author to speak at Fall Commencement



THIBODAUX, La. — Local author John Desantis will deliver the keynote speech during the 101st commencement ceremony at Nicholls State University.

Nicholls’ 101st Commencement will take place at 10 a.m. on Dec. 16 in Guidry Stadium.

Desantis has spent decades as a newspaper reporter in California, New York City, Mississippi, North Carolina and Florida, but he’s best known for his work at the Daily Comet and The Times of Houma-Thibodaux. His bylines have appeared in the Associated Press and New York Times.

He is the author of three books “For the Color His Skin: The Murder of Yusuf Hawkins and the Trial of Bensonhurst” published in 1991; “The New Untouchables, How America Sanctions Police Violence” published in 1994; and most recently, “The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike” published last year.

Research and publication of his latest book led to the creation of the nonprofit, The Louisiana 1887 Memorial Committee, which is working with archaeologists from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to verify alleged mass grave victims. The committee’s work and the book have led the City of Thibodaux and Lafourche Parish Council to publicly acknowledge and condemn the 1887 event.

Through the creation of the committee, Desantis has worked with Nicholls State University students on a public campaign to promote the committee’s goals.

“Addressing the 2017 commencement is an honor I would never have foreseen in my wildest dreams,” DeSantis said. “I hope to impart a message of hope to graduates that no matter where their paths lead them, there will always be opportunities to use what they have gained during their years at Nicholls to give aid and comfort to others, while also achieving success for themselves and their families.”

In honor of his work supporting the local community, Desantis will be awarded an honorary doctorate.

“Receipt of the honorary degree is for me an acknowledgment of the people in our communities, particularly those afflicted by poverty and prejudice, whose stories I have told,” he said. “It is my hope that in some way this will encourage others to continue doing similar work in the future. It also provides for me a stronger link with the Nicholls community, which I have great affection for and which has aided my work in many different ways.”


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator,  985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@www.nicholls.edu