African American students at Harvard University will hold their own graduation ceremony this year. Black Commencement 2017 will take place on May 23, according to The Boston Globe.
The African-American student body at Harvard University will be holding a separate graduation ceremony from the general commencement for the 2017 graduating class.
It will be the first university-wide ceremony for black students at Harvard, according to student organizers, and it is designed to celebrate the differing hurdles and achievements of the school’s black student body. Harvard, one of the most elite education institutions in the country, has long struggled with its historic connection to slavery.
Under University President and Lincoln Professor of History Drew Gilpin Faust, a handful of scholarly, research, and engagement efforts are underway in order to more fully explore and acknowledge the history and legacy of slavery at Harvard. In April 2016, President Faust and Congressman John Lewis unveiled a plaque on Wadsworth House honoring four women and men — Bilhah, Venus, Titus, and Juba — who lived and worked there as enslaved persons in the 18th century. In addition, President Faust has organized a faculty committee of historians from across Harvard to advise, research, and provide recommendations on University efforts and initiatives. Harvard also hosted a national academic conference on March 3, 2017 to explore the relationships between slavery and universities, across the country and around the world.
As of this writing, more than 170 students and 530 guests have signed up to attend the 2017 Black Commencement ceremony, which will be held May 23 at Holmes Field, near the Harvard Law School campus. The event will include speeches by black students, alumni, and administrators.
Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, established in 1636, whose history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world’s most prestigious universities. It has a total enrollment of 22,000 and an undergraduate tuition and fees cost of $43,280.