Former Alabama Senator Doug Jones.

Former Alabama Senator Doug Jones, a prosecutor who brought long-overdue justice to the victims of the 1963 Birmingham, Ala., 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, will deliver Hamilton’s 2024 Commencement address and receive an honorary degree on Sunday, May 19, at 10:30 a.m., in the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House.

In addition to Jones, an honorary degree will be awarded to Rosa Brooks, the Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Law and Policy at Georgetown Law, and author of Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City, about her experience as a reserve police officer in Washington, D.C.

Brooks will offer the Baccalaureate address on Saturday, May 18, at 3 p.m., in the Scott Field House. A class of 492 students is expected to receive bachelor’s degrees during Hamilton’s Commencement ceremony.  

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The baccalaureate and commencement ceremonies will be broadcast live online.

Doug Jones

Former Sen. Jones has built his career on fighting impossible battles. In 2017, he shocked the political establishment by winning a special election to fill a United States Senate seat in Alabama—the first Democrat to do so in 25 years in the state.

As a member of the Senate Banking and Housing Committee, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Committee on Aging, he quickly built a reputation as a well-regarded and effective legislator. He passed more than two dozen bipartisan bills into law in just three years, including legislation to end the military widow’s tax, provide permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), shed light on Civil Rights-era cold cases, and expand access to broadband in rural communities. He was also one of the principal architects of the anti-money laundering legislation passed by Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.

Jones graduated from the University of Alabama and Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. After government service, then private practice in Birmingham, Ala., he was nominated by Pres. Bill Clinton to the position of U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Jones served as U.S. attorney until June 2001. It was while serving in that position that he successfully prosecuted two of the four men responsible for the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church—finally bringing full justice and closure nearly 40 years after the attack that killed four young girls. Along with taking on the Ku Klux Klan, Jones indicted domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph and prosecuted other criminals who sought to use fear, hatred, and violence to inhibit the rights of others.

Jones is the author of Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights which chronicles the events surrounding the 1963 Alabama church bombing and the 40-year aftermath that irrevocably transformed American civil rights forever. Since the end of his term as U.S. Attorney, Jones has traveled the country to deliver a powerful presentation about the cases.

In 2022, Jones was appointed by President Joe Biden to serve as Nomination Advisor for Legislative Affairs with the goal of guiding the most important appointment of his Presidency – the historic selection, nomination, and successful confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. In this role, Jones called upon his former Congressional colleagues and helped garner the necessary bipartisan support needed to secure Justice Jackson’s historic confirmation to the nation’s highest court.

Today, Jones is Of Counsel with the DC law firm of ArentFox Schiff, and serves as a Senior Distinguished Fellow with The Center for American Progress.  He has served as a Fellow at the Institute of Politics and Public Service at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and is currently a member of the Institute’s Board of Advisors, as The Rappaport Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College School of Law and as a fellowship at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago.

He is a frequent guest on national television and radio news programs and podcasts, a highly sought-after speaker on national affairs, and is involved in a variety of political and civic organizations.   

Rosa Brooks
Rosa Brooks. Photo: Jody McKitrick 

Rosa Brooks

Rosa Brooks holds the Scott K. Ginsburg Chair in Law and Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, where she has been a tenured professor since 2006. She also serves as Georgetown Law’s Associate Dean for Centers and Institutes and as faculty co-director of Georgetown’s Center on Innovations in Public Safety, which she founded in 2017.

Previously, Brooks served as an Adjunct Senior Scholar at West Point’s Modern War Institute, an ASU Future of War Senior Fellow at New America and a founder of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security (LCWINS). In 2020, she organized the Transition Integrity Project, and she currently co-chairs the Advisory Board of the Democracy Futures Project at the Brennan Center for Justice. From 2016 to 2020, she served as a reserve police officer with the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, and in 2019, received the Chief of Police Special Award.

Brooks has combined law teaching and scholarship with stints in government service and a career in journalism. She has also worked as a consultant or board member for numerous non-profits, human rights organizations and philanthropic foundations. From April 2009 to July 2011, Brooks held the role of counselor to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy.
From 2005 to 2009, Brooks wrote weekly opinion columns for The Los Angeles Times, then spent another four years writing a column on war and the military for Foreign Policy. Her articles and essays have also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and The Wall Street Journal. She is a co-founder of Deep State Radio, a weekly podcast on foreign policy. 

Brooks is the author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything (Simon & Schuster, 2016), which was a New York Times Notable Book of 2016; it was also shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber Prize and named one of the five best non-fiction books of the year by The Military Times and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Her most recent book Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City (Penguin Random House, 2021), was named one of the best non-fiction books of the year by The Washington Post. Her next book, All the Way to Heaven and All the Way to Hell: Land, Power and Belonging in the American West, will be published by Penguin in 2026.

Brooks earned her bachelor’s degree in history and literature at Harvard; a master’s degree in social anthropology at Oxford, where she was a Marshall Scholar; and a JD from Yale Law School.  


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