Brown University has apparently been doing this for years. Black students celebrate their graduation in a separate ceremony before participating in the full commencement exercises the next day.
The National Association of Scholars reports:
Blackalaureate 2017 at Brown University: A Photo Essay
Student procession at the 40th Onyx Rites of Passage Ceremony, also known as the “Blackalaureate,” at the Omni Providence Hotel, in Providence, Rhode Island, May 27, 2017. The event is held the night before Brown University’s main commencement ceremony for all graduating students.
Parents, relatives, and friends look on as students collect their Kente cloths and gather on stage for a class photo. 79 students were inducted into the Onyx, which was founded in 1977. The aim of the Onyx is to celebrate the “transition from Black student to Black Alumni.”
West African drums reverberate throughout Omni Providence Hotel as parents line up to take photographs. “Onyx” events are not unique to Brown University. Georgia State holds an Onyx Ball as the “exciting conclusion to Back History Month.” The University of Missouri holds a Black faculty and staff social called Onyx. The University of Pennsylvania has an Onyx Senior Honor Society, founded in 1974. Emory University has the Onyx Awards, “named after pillars of the Black community, faculty, staff and students.” These events are not part of a larger organization.
(Photos used with permission of the National Association of Scholars.)DONATE
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