Here’s why Harvard is holding an individual graduation ceremony for black students this month

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Here’s why Harvard is holding an individual graduation ceremony for black students this month

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Darren McCollester/Getty Images
CAMBRIDGE, MA - JUNE 4: Harvard University students attend commencement ceremonies June 4, 2009 in Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636, this year marks the 358th year of graduation ceremonies at the university, considered the oldest in the nation. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Black graduate students at Harvard University will soon be a part of a first-of-its-kind ceremony.

On May 23, the prestigious university will hold an individual ceremony for black graduate students, according to a report by The Root. The ceremony, which took a year to plan, celebrates “fellowship” not “segregation,” Michael Huggins, a graduate student that will receive his master’s of public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School this month, told The Root. 

“This is an opportunity to celebrate Harvard’s black excellence and black brilliance,” Michael Huggins told the online publication. “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.”

More than 120 students have registered to partake in the ceremony, which will be held at Holmes Field, near the Harvard law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The students raised more than $27,000 to pay for the ceremony and a reception that will follow. The student body hopes to organize a similar ceremony for black undergraduate students at Harvard next year, Huggins said.

The graduate students still plan to participate in the school’s main ceremony later this month. Last year, Harvard was named the No. 2 best college for African-Americans by Essence and MONEY magazines.

“This is not about segregation,” Huggins told The Root. “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.”

How important are black teachers? Just one can reduce the chance a low-income black male student drops out by 39 percent.
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