Although forced segregation by race is no longer legal, one group of students has decided to self segregate. Black students at Harvard University will host a commencement ceremony for blacks only.
Over 125 students will attend the event, which is reported to cost over $27,000. The funds to hold the graduation and reception were raised by the students.
According to organizers, black students are experiencing “incidents of overt racism, microaggressions, passive racist comments, and the marginalization of minority experiences in both reading assignments and learning materials.”
Although Harvard can boast that 96 percent of its black students graduate within six years, some students still report feelings of isolation on campus, according to the publication called The Root. They quote one student, Courtney Woods, as reporting “historic wealth disparities and cultural differences” that create a division and inhibit studying.
“Harvard’s institutional foundation is in direct conflict with the needs of Black students,” Woods said. “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.”
The Harvard group plans to hold a similar event next year, however organizers want to include black-only undergraduate students as well
“We created this from scratch, because for me, for many of us, we are not here alone,” Woods said. “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.”
The students who participate in this year’s event are also welcome at Harvard’s main, all inclusive commencement ceremony.
Harvard has one of the highest graduation rates for black students in the country.
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