Jeff Labrecque
June 03, 2011 AT 09:14 PM EDT

Playwright Tony Kushner accepted the honorary degree from the City College of New York that had become a point of controversy several weeks ago when a member of the school’s board of trustees accused the Pulitzer-Prize winner of being “anti-Israel.” The board initially voted to deny Kushner the academic honor, but facing widespread criticism, the decision was reversed, opening the door for Kushner to accept the Doctor of Letters today and address the new graduates of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Calling the degree “the most interesting one I had to work hardest to get,” according to the Associated Press, Kushner, who is married to EW columnist Mark Harris, recognized the supporters who rallied against the accusation that he was an anti-Semite. “Behind [this honor] there stands a shining community of people, of spirits of whom I’m proud to be able to call myself kindred,” he said, “who believe in the necessity of honest exchanges of ideas and opinions, who understand that life is a struggle to synthesize, to find a balance between responsibility and freedom, strategy and truth, survival and ethical humanity.”

Read more:

Tony Kushner talks about his latest play, ‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures’

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