U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA.), a graduate of Community College of Philadelphia and La Salle University, will be this year’s principal speaker at Community College of Philadelphia’s 53rd Commencement on May 4. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in The Liacouras Center, located at 1776 N. Broad Street. About 8,000 parents, friends and candidates for graduation are expected to attend the ceremony.
Over his political tenure, Congressman Evans has advocated and defended progressive causes, including urban renewal, economic growth and educational opportunities. One of five children, he grew up in North Philadelphia and Germantown and today lives just minutes from his alma mater, Germantown High School. Maintaining deep roots in his district, the celebrated politician has dedicated his life as a public servant to the people of Philadelphia and beyond.
Before making his way to the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., Congressman Evans served as a state representative for 36 years. As an elected member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Congressman Evans marked his storied career early on as one of breaking barriers and building bridges. He made history in 1990 by becoming the first African-American chairman of the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee, a position he held for two decades. In that role, he was instrumental in helping Philadelphia and communities across Pennsylvania receive funding for economic development, job training, education, infrastructure and the arts.
In 2016, constituents elected Evans to represent Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Northwest and West Philadelphia and parts of North, South and Center City Philadelphia. In his first two years in Congress, Evans served on the House Agriculture Committee and worked on the Farm Bill, a major piece of legislation that Congress only passes every five years. He successfully challenged the Farm Bill’s proposed inclusion of work requirements, an amendment that could have denied millions of people who benefit from the SNAP food assistance program, formerly known as food stamps, the help they need to keep themselves and their families from going hungry. In January of this year, the congressman was named to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee that oversees important issues, including taxes, trade, Social Security and Medicare.
During his time in the Pennsylvania Legislature, Evans championed the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, a plan that links public and private funds to expand and build grocery stores in food deserts across our state. Creating more than 5,000 jobs in the process, the congressman brought nearly 100 grocery stores to underserved areas across the state that previously had very limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Obama administration applauded Evans’ approach and used the Pennsylvania initiative as a model for the nation, replicating it in several other states across the country, including California, New York, New Jersey, Louisiana and Illinois.
In 2013, Evans released his political biography titled, "Making Ideas Matter: My Life as a Policy Entrepreneur,” written with Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Ecenbarger, and published by the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government.