A commencement like no other will see Black Harvard students hold their own, separate commencement ceremony two days before the ceremony being held for everybody else.
The event will be the first for the Ivy League school and will take place on May 23, ahead of the main commencement on May 25. The Boston Globe said that 170 students have signed up, plus 530 guests.
The graduates will wear a stole which is a kind of scarf that’s woven from African kente cloth during the ceremony, and hear from keynote speakers. Donations amounting to around $27,000 will fund the event. A portion of the money has been provided by Harvard institutions.
Even though the event is focused on black students, students of other races are not banned from attending. Students who opt for the separate event will also go to the main commencement two days later.
The idea has not been welcomed by all. To some, the event had Martin Luther King Jr weeping. Others think that Segregation is segregation, whether it’s forced on you or you choose to segregate yourself.
Organizer Michael Higgins said in an interview with news site The Root, that the event was not about segregation. It’s about fellowship and building a community.
Other universities have Black commencement ceremonies including Stanford, Temple and Columbia – but this is the first time one has been held at Harvard.
The event will focus on graduate students, though organizers say they want to hold one for undergraduates next year.