Delaware State University’s May 12 Commencement ceremony will feature author, screenwriter and musician James McBride as the keynote speaker.

McBride will speak to around 600 graduates and their families, friends and supporters at the commencement’s Alumni Stadium site on campus.

James McBride’s memoir, “The Color of Water,” resided on the New York Times bestseller list for two years and is considered an American classic that is read in schools and universities nationwide.

His debut novel, “Miracle at St. Anna,” a story of the Buffalo Soldiers in World War II and their interactions with the Italians during that conflict, became a 2008 feature film by Spike Lee. Under the filmmaker’s guidance, McBride also wrote the screenplay adaptation of his book for the movie.

The author got his start in journalism in 1980-81 as a writer for the News Journal and resided at that time in Wilmington. McBride toured as a saxophonist sideman with jazz legend Jimmy Scott, among others. He has also written songs for Anita Baker, Grover Washington Jr., Purafe, Gary Burton and the PBS television character “Barney.” He received the Stephen Sondheim Award and the Richard Rodgers Foundation Horizon Award for his musical “Bo-Bos” co-written with playwright Ed Shockley.

McBride is a native New Yorker and a graduate of New York City public schools. He studied composition at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 22. He holds several honorary doctorates and is currently a distinguished writer in residence at New York University.