Black Harvard graduate students plan to host a “black-only” graduation ceremony later in May. Approximately 125 students will participate in the ceremony, which took over a year to plan, reports the College Fix. The event is supposed to celebrate how black students have succeeded in higher education.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate Harvard’s Black excellence and Black brilliance,” Michael Huggins, a master’s student in public policy, told The Root. “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.”
Students raised over $27,000 to cover the cost of the ceremony and its reception. They hope to have another black-only ceremony next year that will include undergraduate students as well.
The students insist that having a ceremony just for black students isn’t a form of segregation, but a way for them to have fellowship together. “This is not about segregation. 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,” Huggins added.
Black students at Harvard have a higher graduation rate than national standards — 96 percent of the college’s black students graduate within six years, according to a 2011 report. Only 44 percent of black students graduate on a national level.
Black students at Harvard still have issues with their campus. “Harvard’s institutional foundation is in direct conflict with the needs of Black students,” Woods continued. “There is a legacy of slavery, epistemic racism and colonization at Harvard, which was an institution founded to train rising imperialist leaders.”
The students will still participate in a main ceremony with their fellow students.