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Meet the Keynote Speaker

Marvin Gilmore

We are honored to announce that Marvin Gilmore will deliver the Lasell University Undergraduate Commencement address for the Class of 2023.

Martin GilmoreMarvin Gilmore is a civil rights and social justice pioneer, humanitarian, community activist, entrepreneur, political advisor, honored World War II veteran, musician, and family man. His life is an odds-defying story of perseverance, bravery, and commitment to bettering the lives of those around him. He has fought for freedom, equality, and equity all over the world: on D-Day in France, in the South against the Klan with Charles Evers and Bill Russell, and in Boston and Cambridge to build better opportunities for others amid racial discrimination.

Gilmore co-founded landmark New England businesses Unity Bank and Trust Company (the first Black-owned and operated commercial bank in Boston, now OneUnited) and Western Front (a Black-owned and operated music venue in Cambridge for 46 years), which made headlines for their success despite discrimination against Black business leaders.

From 1973 to 2015, Gilmore served as president and CEO of Community Development Corporation of Boston (CDC), a community-based non-profit economic development organization. Under his leadership, the CDC’s primary focus was to encourage businesses to develop sites in inner-city neighborhoods. He and the CDC were a primary force in the economic development of Boston’s Southwest Corridor, Newmarket Industrial District, and CrossTown Industrial Park. He has served on the Low-Income Housing Commission and Boston Local Development Corporation Board of Trustees.

Gilmore was raised in Cambridge and enlisted at age 16 to fight in World War II, during which he served on D-Day’s Normandy, Utah, and Omaha Beaches. He has received more than a dozen medals and honors for his service, including the Bronze Star Attachment (Quadruple), French Legion of Honor, and Order of Lafayette. He has participated in laying the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony and was honored on the 70th anniversary of D-Day by American President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, and Queen Elizabeth II. In 2013, he was given the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ highest honor, the Commonwealth Leadership Award, for his extraordinary commitment to public service.

Today, at age 99, Gilmore is president and co-founder of the “new” Western Front, a minority-owned-and-run cannabis dispensary with three locations in Chelsea and Cambridge.

Gilmore holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the New England Conservatory of Music and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Endicott College.