CBSN

Morgan Freeman Accepts Honorary Degree

Delta State University president John Hilpert, left, is shown in this university submitted photograph adjusting the doctoral hood around the neck of actor and Clarksdale resident Morgan Freeman, Saturday, May 13, 2006, in Cleveland, Miss. Freeman was awarded an honorary doctorate of Arts and Letters
AP Photo/Delta State U., Bill Moses
Morgan Freeman accepted his honorary degree from Delta State University with a simple "thank you."

Delta State conferred on Freeman the degree Doctor of Arts and Letters in front of a capacity crowd Saturday at Walter Sillers Coliseum.

"Mr. Freeman's commitment to the Delta has been steadfast and solid. He has never forgotten his roots and we appreciate him for that," Delta State President John M. Hilpert said.

Freeman, amid countless camera flashes and an extended standing ovation, accepted his large framed degree, smiled and acknowledged, "I had two pages of remarks written, but for the sake of being shorter, I will simply express my appreciation, my gratitude and say, 'Thank you.' "

Later at a reception, the Academy Award winner acknowledged Leola Gregory Williams, an elementary teacher in his native Greenwood.

"She was a magician, a true magician," he said.

He said Williams inspired him and challenged him "to make something of my life, to do good."

Williams later became the first black instructor in English at Delta State. The university awards The Leola Gregory Williams Award annually to students who have written outstanding papers in general education classes.