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History of Black Graduation

In 1997, a group of Black students at the UW decided to host a post-commencement graduation ceremony in order to create a more intimate and personal graduation experience. The group consisted of several students including the President of the Black Student Union, President of Sisterhood, and the Black Student Commissioner. With support from the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, the students hosted the first Black Graduation on June 10, 1997, at Grace Apostolic Temple in Columbia City. The ceremony gave students the opportunity to recognize significant people who had helped them reach their goal including faculty, staff, friends and family. The event was deemed a success and has become an annual tradition. To learn more about the first Black Graduation read Walking to Black Graduation a 1997 UW Daily newspaper article interviewing several 1997 graduates and the reason that they felt a Black Graduation was necessary.

Today, the tradition of the Black Graduation continues as a pre-commencement celebration open to all students and acknowledges graduates, who through unyielding determination, have successfully completed an undergraduate or post baccalaureate degree at the UW. The event recognizes their accomplishments and provides an opportunity for graduates to honor those who have helped them achieve their milestone. Graduates are honored together in one setting, as their families celebrate their hard work and dedication. This celebration reinforces the bonds of scholarship and extends the sense of community. It honors African and African American heritage and culture, which culminates with a Kente Ceremony where traditional stoles are presented to the graduates.
2020 Virtual Black Graduation Ceremony files