Many Universities Host Special Commencement Celebrations for Black Grads Only

Many universities across the nation this month and next will host graduation ceremonies dedicated to their black student populations.

The voluntary celebrations are held in addition to regular, mainstream commencements put on for all students. {snip}

Some of the universities hosting these ceremonies include Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, UT Austin, MSU of Denver, University of Washington, UC San Diego, Cal State Northridge, CU Boulder, Whittier College, UC Riverside, Cal State LA, and San Francisco State University, among many others.

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“The Black Graduation Ceremony is a pre-commencement celebration to honor African and African American students who through unyielding determination have successfully completed an undergraduate or graduate degree from the University of Washington,” explains the UW website.

San Francisco State’s website notes that the “mission of the Black African Baccalaureate, Masters, and Doctorate Ceremony is an Afrocentric celebration of the scholarly achievements of Black, African and African American students.”

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Often, Kente cloth stoles are handed to the black grads during these special ceremonies. The stoles symbolize “very special occasions within African Culture. Graduates are encouraged to [wear] their Kente stoles during the college’s graduation ceremony,” MSU Denver’s website states.

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Other special identity groups that are often given extra-special graduation ceremonies include so-called lavender ceremonies for LGBTQ grads and Latinx ceremonies for Latino grads. Also on the list: Native Americans and undocumented students. {snip}

The celebrations are hosted under the guise of honoring diversity.

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“…Participants say the ceremonies are a way of celebrating their shared experience as a group, and not a rejection of official college graduations, which they also attend. Depending on one’s point of view, the ceremonies may also be reinforcing an image of the 21st-century campus as an incubator for identity politics.”

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