Black Harvard University graduates will have an individual graduation ceremony.
Many see this event as a form of segregation but Michael Huggins graduating with a master’s in public policy doesn’t agree. “This is not about segregation,” he says. “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. We are all partners.”
Mr Huggins sees the event as something quite opposite to polarisation. “This is an opportunity to celebrate Harvard’s Black excellence and Black brilliance,” he adds. “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.”
The event was being planned for almost a year. Though the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education noted that in 2011 96% of Back students graduated Harvard University within six years (which is a higher rate than the country average) many of African-Americans claimed they often felt lonely and unsafe on campus.
Courtney Woods, getting a master’s degree in education policy and management thinks, “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. This is a history that we are reclaiming.”
Courtney believes that the separate graduation ceremony will help to highlight the achievements of the Blacks who managed to maintain leadership in the tough environment of Harvard University.
“It speaks volumes that there has never been a Black graduation ceremony until now,” she added. “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.”