Resmaa Menakem headshot
Campus News

Honoring Resmaa Menakem at CIIS' 56th Commencement Ceremony

Celebrated author and somatic therapist Resmaa Menakem will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and deliver the commencement address.

April 29, 2024

We are thrilled to announce that Resmaa Menakem (MSW, LICSW, SEP), bestselling author, activist, and expert in racialized trauma and somatic healing, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in Social Justice, Somatic Education and Advocacy and will deliver the commencement address at CIIS’ 56th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 18th at the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco.

Menakem is the renowned author of the New York Times bestselling My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, which has brought vital conversations about racialized generational trauma, somatic therapy, and communal healing to national attention. He has also published The Quaking of America: An Embodied Guide to Navigating Our Nation’s Upheaval and Racial Reckoning; Monsters in Love: Why Your Partner Sometimes Drives You Crazy—And What You Can Do About It; and The Stories from My Grandmother’s Hands, a children’s picture book co-authored with actor T. Mychael Rambo and illustrated by Leroy Campbell.

Resilience is built into the cells of our bodies. Like trauma, resilience can ripple outward, changing the lives of people, families, neighborhoods, and communities in positive ways. Also like trauma, resilience can be passed down from generation to generation.

- From My Grandmother’s Hands (2017)


Menakem’s writing is an outgrowth of his decades of experience as a counselor, educator and coach, which led him to develop the practice of Somatic Abolitionism—an embodied, transformative antiracist practice—and to found the Cultural Somatics institute and Justice Leadership Solutions. Through his work as community care counselor for civilian contractors in Afghanistan; the director of counseling services for Tubman Family Alliance; the behavioral health director for African American Family Services in Minneapolis; and a social worker for Minneapolis Public Schools, among other roles, Menakem witnessed firsthand the many ways that trauma manifests in the mind and body, particularly the ongoing harms experienced by Black Americans living within a racist society and heavily policed communities. Through My Grandmother’s Hands and The Quaking of America, he has elaborated a paradigm-shifting and liberatory means to both understand and heal the generational burdens of survival, as well as to create resistance to and resilience in the moment of trauma, breaking the cycle.

We are fortunate to have Resmaa Menakem with us on this very special occasion and we give gratitude to his loved ones for supporting him on this journey.

Learn more about CIIS' 56th Commencement Ceremony and Reception.

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