Tyra Patterson Receives Honorary Degree from Art Academy of Cincinnati

Tyra Patterson was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. On December 25, 2017, she walked out of prison after serving 23 years for crimes she did not commit. Today, Tyra travels the country speaking at law schools, colleges, prisons, conferences, and high schools, leveraging her story to educate people on social justice, mass incarceration, and wrongful convictions.

Tyra Patterson Receives Honorary Degree from Art Academy of CincinnatiShe currently lives in Cincinnati and works at the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, where she serves as the Director of Community Outreach. Tyra also maintains paralegal duties at OJPC working on cases on behalf of people, both guilty and innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted. She is also an Ambassador for Represent Justice.

During the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s 151st Commencement Celebration, at the Carnegie in Covington, Kentucky, artist, and activist Tyra Patterson, addressed the graduates as the commencement speaker.

Patterson’s story of resilience championed the class of 2020 to realize their creative visions and to be emboldened to change the world during a time of such division.

Patterson shared her history of being wrongfully incarcerated, serving 23 years for crimes she did not commit. Her story has been shared worldwide from ABC News to the Guardian.

“I’m so humbled to be your commencement speaker. But I have to admit my imposter syndrome kicked in,” said Patterson.

“I dropped out of elementary school when I was only 11 years old. I went to prison, not knowing how to read or write. I’m good at a few things, but I don’t consider myself an expert in anything. But there is one thing I know better than almost anyone, and that is to…never give up.”

Patterson’s perseverance and how that has fueled her activism was a theme in her address.

“People typically ask graduates to go out and accomplish their goals and make the world a better place. While that is still true, today, in 2020, the plea for you is a little bit different. In a time of segregation, both mandated and self-imposed, we need you to be emboldened to change the world. We need artists unlike ever before.”

After her address, Art Academy President Joe Girandola awarded Patterson a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa and the 2020 Creative Perseverance Award.

“When Tyra Patterson enters a room, the Earth stands still and listens,” said Girandola.

“Tyra speaks wisdom from the depths of sorrow and sadness to the heights of sheer joy and social justice. The ability to express that everyone on this planet breathes the same molecules of life, connecting us together, enables us all to move forward with compassion and creativity, is Tyra’s gift to humanity.”

The Art Academy of Cincinnati is honored to welcome Tyra Patterson to the class of 2020.