Morehouse National Alumni Association (Credit: Morehouse National Alumni Association (Credit:

In the run up to President Obama’s May 19 commencement address at Morehouse College, the college president is struggling to quell a growing controversy over what role a critic of the president will play at the college's graduation ceremonies.

Morehouse College President John S. Wilson, who headed the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges before assuming the presidency in January, changed the baccalaureate address format after the invited speaker, Bright Hope Baptist Church senior pastor Kevin Johnson, published an opinion piece questioning the lack of diversity in Obama’s second-term Cabinet. Wilson asked Johnson to speak as part of a three-person panel instead of by himself "to reflect a broader and more inclusive range of viewpoints."

In his first interview with a journalist on the subject, Wilson said Thursday he was engaged in negotiations with Johnson but "commencement weekend is for the graduates, their families and the visit by the president of the United States. Everything revolves around that precious principle."