GRAMBLING, LA (5/16/20)– As COVID-19 makes history, so did JPMorgan Chase as they hosted the first ever virtual commencement celebration for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, also known as HBCU’s.
“I wanna welcome you to the 2020 “Show Me your Walk HBCU Edition” presented by Chase,” said Kevin Hart, American Stand-Up Comedian.
The graduation celebration included 78 different HBCU’s across America, including Grambling State University.
“We just want to say we are proud of you and we know that the future is bright with you all leading us into the future,” said Rick Gallot, President of Grambling State University.
“Being able to be a part of a virtual graduation just for us is kind of like, it’s special and sentimental because we didn’t get to experience ours yet. We don’t know when we will be able to,” said Alianndra Williams, GSU graduate.
“Show me your Walk HBCU Edition” wasn’t your typical graduation ceremony. Over 20 African American leaders, including former president Barack Obama, Kevin Hart, and Chris Paul, celebrated a milestone that some families are seeing for the first time.
“Some of these students are first generation college students and so to recognize their hard work but also talk about the road map for the future,” said Sekou Kaalund, head of Advancing Black Pathways for JPMorgan Chase.
GSU graduate, Alianndra Williams, says she was sad she didn’t graduate with her friends and classmates, but being part of this graduation was a once in a life time experience.
“Just imagine if we had a regular commencement, we would have never been able to met Kevin Hart or even hear a commencement speech from Barack Obama speaking directly to us. So it’s almost like you’re star struck, like wow this is for us,” said Williams.
This graduation celebration wasn’t just for the 27,000 graduates, but also to shine a light on the impact HBCU’s leaves on its students.
“As HBCU graduates, you have to remember that you are inheritors of one of America’s proudest traditions. Which means you all are role models now, whether you like it or not. The power to shine brightly for justice, equality, and for joy. You’ve earned your degree, it’s now up to you to use it,” said Barack Obama, The 44th U.S. President.
Officials from Advancing Black Pathways of JPMorgan Chase says HBCU’s only account for 3% of institutions in america, but they make up 23% of African Americans who graduate college.