Black Harvard Students Are Holding a Segregated Graduation Ceremony

ashley.rae | May 8, 2017
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Black students at Harvard University will be hosting their own, separate black-only graduation ceremony.

The Root reports more than 125 Harvard graduate students have registered to participate in the separate black graduation ceremony scheduled for May 23.

According to The Root, the point of the event is to “acknowledge the struggles and resilience that black students have had to possess in order to thrive in higher education, an environment where minorities are typically underrepresented.”

Michael Huggins, who is graduating with a master’s degree in public policy, told The Root, “This is an opportunity to celebrate Harvard’s black excellence and black brilliance.”

“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,” he continued.

Huggins said the event is “not about segregation,” but rather, "it’s about fellowship and building a community.” He said, “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.”

Courtney Woods, who is graduating with a master’s degree in education policy and management, claimed the event is a way to reclaim Harvard’s alleged history “of slavery, epistemic racism and colonization.”

Woods told The Root, “Harvard’s institutional foundation is in direct conflict with the needs of black students.”

“There is a legacy of slavery, epistemic racism and colonization at Harvard, which was an institution founded to train rising imperialist leaders," she said. "This is a history that we are reclaiming."

Woods added, “It speaks volumes that there has never been a black graduation ceremony until now.”

“We created this from scratch, because for me, for many of us, we are not here alone. I carry with me the dreams and desires of my family. And as a first-generation, I know I am here to change the trajectory for all of us,” said Woods.

“The students are excited and have put a lot of work into this,” said Huggins. “Too often at Harvard, there is not cross-discipline contact between black students. So it can feel like you are the only person of color. At this graduation, we can show each other and the administration that we are here, we are strong and we are not going away.”

Graduate students raised more than $27,000 to host the event and the reception. The organizers are looking to expand the ceremony to include undergraduate students in the future.

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