Black Commencement 2017 (Photo Source: Facebook/ Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance)

Black Commencement 2017 (Photo Source: Facebook/ Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance)

In a sign of changing times, Harvard University has announced that the school is holding a separate commencement ceremony for Black graduate students. This is not the first time that Harvard has had a separate graduation ceremony for Black graduate students; however, this time it will include graduate students from across the different colleges of the school.

The graduates will be wearing kente cloth stoles over their robes to celebrate their African ancestry and specific struggles that Black students have endured in America and even on the campus. Last year, the university changed its seal responding to complaints that it was based on the family crest of the slave owning founder of the nation’s oldest university.

The event called Black Commencement 2017 was organized by students and supported by the faculty and administration of Harvard University.

Michael Huggins, president of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance, which is organizing the event, stated to media, “The primary reason we wanted to do this is we really wanted to come together to celebrate Harvard Black excellence and brilliance.” Huggins will be receiving his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Harvard University is not the first Predominantly White Institution (PWI) to hold separate graduation ceremonies for Black students. Other PWIs including Columbia, Stanford, Berkeley and Temple have held separate and requested Black commencement ceremonies. At Harvard, approximately 14 percent of its undergraduates are Black, while five percent of all students, including graduate schools, are Black.

Organizers say the Harvard event is open to students and guests of any race or ethnicity, and that 170 students and 530 guests have signed up to attend. For some, however, separate ceremonies can also take away from the accomplishments of the Black student graduating with their White peers. But since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, issues of race and diversity have taken center stage on many campuses across the United States. Black students have been subjected to more racial insults and threatening situations by white students on campus, especially during the election of President Donald Trump. Strangely, in what has been called a post-racial America, we see a mindset by some Blacks that brings a new twist to separate but equal.

 

 

Mo Barnes

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.

  • SrAgri

    “Strangely, in what has been called a post-racial America, we see a mindset by some Blacks that brings a new twist to separate but equal.”

    I think this is a step backwards. Black students are choosing to segregate themselves.

    I wonder what the Little Rock Nine would think of this ceremony…

    • Oak510finest

      The Little Rock nine would applaud these kids, for segregating themselves from a group of people that have terrorized them and shown nothing but vile hatred. They would understand that integration has not changed white people’s mentality, their hatred or their systematic oppression of black people.

      Like any person in a abusive relationship, you separate yourself from that abusive person.

      Black people now understand after decades of trying. That whites are incapable of any change. Therefore the only reasonable solution would be to isolate yourself from them.

    • tratney

      in places like at the University of Cincinnati, they have been doing this, so this ain’t new they late….we want our own celebration without worrying about others feeling out of place

  • LV Stim

    I find it curious that these students are so eager to self segregate and celebrate the soft bigotry of low expectations…of course it’s polished up with all the usual buzz words like “community” and “excellence”. So sad….

  • Rob C

    Every African American student should be outraged at this disrespectful ceremony. This isn’t a celebration, its a willing self depreciating slap in the face of all those who fought and died to have the opportunity for equality. These educated, ridiculously obtuse students took the bait, hook, line and sinker. Integration wasn’t about changing the mind of white folks–it was about changing the mind of our own. We can be and are great, given the SAME playing field.

    • Oak510finest

      However integration has not worked. Blacks were far more better off, when they were segregated and that is without debate.

      Why should another generation of kids. Be forced to repeat the same unsuccessful steps simply because of some tradition.

      Why would Black people continue to want to be a part of a society that does not support or want them. One that has systematically oppressed them for hundreds of years.

      At what point do you begin to support a person for wanting to leave a abusive relationship. When do you finally admit to yourself, that there is nothing you can do to make that person stop abusing you or change for tha)t matter.

      So congratulations to those graduates for wanting to be recognized for their accomplishments separately!!

      • Rob C

        Your reply is so filled with factually unsubstantiated OPINION, a reasonable and rational reply is not warranted. Grow up.

        • Oak510finest

          We can have a difference of opinion. That is the beauty of the world. I think what’s even more beautiful. Is that a lot of black people are quickly abandoning the old mindset and tactics. And rightfully so, especially since it has not worked.

          People are no longer interested in voting for tokens or white supremacist who are not going to help us. Nor are they interested in marching and praying for change. Thankfully those ineffective tactics are going away, hopefully for good!!?

      • D Maria

        No matter what college a student graduates from they still have to live and work with Caucasians.

  • Agonizing Truth

    So I suppose it’s not segregation and “not” racist if minorities choose to segregate themselves? If I were the dean of Harvard I would agree to allow a separate black graduation ceremony on one condition: tying it to ending permanently all scholarships to Harvard being awarded to blacks simply for being black. From here on they would have to actually (gasp!) EARN their way in. Still sound like a good deal?

    • Oak510finest

      Choosing to separate themselves from whites to celebrate their accomplishments in no way qualifies as racist.

      Why would they want to be included with a group, that has systematically oppressed them for hundreds of years?

      To say you would grant the separate ceremony, under the conditions that they stop awarding black scholarship, based on race. Is the reason why they such a program in place now. Which is to balance the uneven playing fields.

      Whites cannot claim that their is a equal playing field for blacks and whites. When you have hundreds of lawsuit filed every year because of discrimination and unfair practices.

      How can any white person, deny blacks a fair opportunity to succeed in this society. Especially, when nothing was ever earned by whites. Rather it was handed to them, simply because they were white.