Longtime local civil rights advocate and Cal State Long Beach alumnus Naomi Rainey-Pierson will be awarded an honorary degree by the school at a commencement ceremony in May.
Rainey-Pierson will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Human Letters degree by the Cal State Long Beach College of Liberal Arts at a 9 a.m. ceremony on May 22.
She has spent the last 50 years as an activist working for the NAACP, the school said in a statement, including the last two decades as the president of the civil rights organization’s Long Beach chapter.
Rainey-Pierson got her start as a 14-year-old NAACP activist in the Antelope Valley, where she grew up.
Long Beach State President Jane Close Conoley said Rainey-Pierson has spent all that time “fighting to eliminate racial prejudice,” describing her as a “model of what we hope our students endeavor to achieve.”
Rainey-Pierson graduated from Cal State Long Beach with two master’s degrees and several teaching credentials, school officials said.
She also previously worked as a teacher and administrator at the Long Beach and Compton Unified school districts.
In 2012, Cal State Long Beach renamed a residence hall at its Hillside College after her. She’s also been a longtime donor to the school, officials said.
Officials said Rainey-Pierson will be fifth woman in the school’s history to receive an honorary degree.
In the statement, Rainey-Pierson said “it feels good to be recognized.”
“I want my legacy to show that it’s better to be united, but even as one you can make a difference,” she said.