Graduating from Harvard University is a huge accomplishment for any student, and the commemoration of that event should be something that will be remembered for a lifetime. For Black members of the class of 2017, that memory will come in the form of an individual ceremony, the first such ceremony in recent history.
The event, which took nearly a year to plan, is an effort to acknowledge the struggles and resilience Black students have had to possess in order to thrive in higher education, an environment where minorities are typically underrepresented.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate Harvard’s Black excellence and Black brilliance,” Michael Huggins, who is graduating with a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, said. “It’s an event where we can see each other and our parents and family can see us as a collective, whole group. A community.”
“This is not about segregation,” Huggins added. “It’s about fellowship and building a community. This is a chance to reaffirm for each other that we enter the work world with a network of supporters standing with us.
We are all partners.”
The ceremony comes at a time when the experiences of Black students on college campuses in America have been marked by incidents of overt racism, microaggressions, passive racist comments, and the marginalization of minority experiences in both reading assignments and learning materials.
The college graduation rate for Black students in the country was 44 percent in 2011 according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.
The same report showed that at Harvard, 96 percent of Black students graduate within six years, which gives Harvard the distinction of having one of the highest graduation rates for Black students.
SOURCE: Monique Judge