Singer Aretha Franklin receives an honorary doctor of arts degree as Chilean author Isabel Allende, left, and former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, look on at Harvard’s commencement.
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A former president and the Queen of Soul have received honorary degrees from Harvard University.
George H.W. Bush, Aretha Franklin, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and five others were honored at Thursday’s commencement.
Harvard President Drew Faust poked fun at the 89-year-old Bush’s Yale University credentials, saying his “cap was blue, his house was white, and now his robe is crimson.”
Bush smiled and gestured to the crowd as he received the doctor of laws degree but didn’t stand.
The 72-year-old Franklin accompanied herself on piano to perform the national anthem. She received an honorary doctor of arts.
Bloomberg criticized intolerance in his commencement speech. He urged graduates to stand up for free expression, saying “our nation will be stronger for it.”