Jeremy Lin to Speak at Harvard College Class Day
Remember Linsanity? It’s returning to campus: Jeremy Lin ’10, the Harvard basketball stalwart (he was captain his senior year) who became a phenomenon in the National Basketball Association (NBA)—which has few Asian American players—has been named speaker for Harvard College’s virtual Class Day on Wednesday, May 26, during the online graduation and reunion exercises extending from May 25 through the Harvard Alumni Association’s annual meeting on June 4 and beyond.
Lin was the first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA; he was on the Toronoto Raptors team that won the championship in 2019. In a year when assaults on and violent acts against Asian Americans have proliferated—perhaps in part in response to former President Donald Trump’s labeling of the coronavirus as a Chinese invention—the selection of Lin may be especially resonant. It is also evocative for student-athletes and fans of the Crimson in a year when athletic competition has been suspended as part of University and Ivy League health precautions. Lin now plays for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA G League.
As a philanthropist, Lin has established the Jeremy Lin Foundation. He has been active in opposing anti-Asian racism and in providing support for COVID-19 relief. He also supported alma mater, making a $1-million gift to support undergraduate financial aid and renovations of the Lavietes Pavilion, where he played for the Crimson. The news announcement noted that he earned All-Ivy League status three times, and was the first player in Ivy history to record 1,450 points (1,483), 450 rebounds (487), 400 assists (406), and 200 steals (225). Crimson hoops fans fondly remember the team’s first national ranking during his senior year, and its return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1946. [Updated May 5, 2021, 9:45 a.m.: The information in the prior sentence, derived from the University news announcement, is incorrect. As the magazine’s basketball correspondent, David Tannenwald, pointed out, and Harvard Athletics communications confirms, the team was first ranked during the 2011-2012 season, entering the polls on December 5, 2011, and made its first post-1946 appearance in the NCAA tournament in 2012.]
Other prominent speakers during this year’s graduation exercises (in lieu of the regular, in-person Commencement, for the second consecutive spring) are Ruth J. Simmons, Ph.D. ’73, LL.D. ’02, president emerita of Smith College and Brown University, now president of Prairie View A&M, an historically black university (the graduation guest, on May 27), and Kevin Young ’92, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (at the alumni association meeting). In a year of unprecedented national focus on racial inequity, highlighted by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, these keynote speakers underscore Harvard’s efforts to promote discussion about, and action to achieve, a diverse, equitable, inclusive community—symbolized in part by President Lawrence S. Bacow’s appointment of Sherri Ann Charleston as the University’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer.