U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will be the commencement speaker at Roger Williams University Law School commencement exercises on May 13th at the school’s Bristol campus.
Perez, the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, is no stranger to Rhode Island. He is a 1983 Brown University graduate, who later earned a graduate degree in political science from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a law degree from Harvard’s Law School.
Perez had a long career in law and government before he was chosen by President Obama in 2013 to replace outgoing Labor Secretary Hilda Solia and was confirmed by the Senate in July, 2013. He has long been an advocate for civil rights and activist government.
Before being tapped for the labor post, Perez was the nation’s top civil rights lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice. At Justice, he fought voter-identification laws in such southern states as Texas and South Carolina and challenged laws targeting undocumented immigrants in Alabama and Arizona. At Brown, Perez concentrated in political science and international relations.
He told the Brown Alumni Magazine in an interview that Brown was where he got to know people of different races, religions, sexual orientations and perspectives. At Brown, his mentor was the late Prof. Ed Beiser, an Orthodox Jew who taught classes on the politics of the legal system.
Perez has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee.