Harvard ‘BLACK COMMENCEMENT 2017’: Segregation is… Equal?


Author: Nicole Commisso

Loretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. or the “First Lady of Civil Rights”, was a forceful public figure in the Civil Rights Movement who once said,

“Segregation was wrong when it was forced by white people, and I believe it is still wrong when it is requested by black people.”

Apparently, segregation is equal and acceptable now according to black Harvard 2017 grads who have organized a separate commencement for black students only. It is called the “Black Commencement 2017”, in which 120 black graduates of Harvard University are registered to attend. This segregated commencement will take place May 23, two days before the regular official commencement and by regular commencement, I mean the commencement where all the students of all different colors will be invited to graduate together in celebration of the great accomplishment of completing college.

Why you might ask? The apparent logic behind the blacks-only graduation is that it amplifies how difficult college life can be for minorities. In the rationality of the left and the belief in “white privilege” this all makes sense: it is easier for white people to have accomplishments since they don’t have immense struggles because of their skin color therefore, non-whites should get extra praise for the same accomplishments to even it out. But, I thought segregation was bad and racist?

Beverly Daniel Tatum, the author of the widely-acclaimed books, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” And Other Conversations About Race and Can We Talk about Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation, has emphasized that the apparent continued racial segregation in society has had an impact on the achievements of racial minorities. So, what is the answer for Harvard University? Taking those who have “overcome” this racial segregation and segregating their achievement of graduating college to blacks only. I know, it’s all backwards and upside down to me as well.

Michael Huggins, a Harvard graduate student and the president of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance, was a part of organizing the separate ceremony saying that the segregated commencement “is not about segregation” …wait what? Confusingly so, he further explains:

“It is an opportunity to celebrate Harvard’s Black excellence and Black brilliance… an event where we can see each other and our parents and family can see us as a collective, whole group. A community.”

So, by separating the black students from all the other students to celebrate just their excellence and their brilliance, solely based on their skin color as a “collective, whole group” isn’t about segregation? To say that this is not segregation is outrageous and laughable really because of how contradictory it is.

This black-only commencement is a setback for America. In the past and present, we learn that racial segregation is wrong and it should not be re-implemented. Regardless of how you feel this event is segregation by fact. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of segregation is: the enforced separation of different racial groups in a country, community, or establishment.

Why should these black students get a special ceremony just because they are black and are graduating college? This demeans the same accomplishment of all the other students of various races who will be graduating as well. All college students work extremely hard to graduate, regardless of their color. All college students have their own struggles in which they overcome, whether it’s academic or personal, large or small, so why are they being diminished and put in second to the struggles of black students? Nothing about this seems equal to me.

The individuals that support this event are most-likely the same individuals that believe there is “white privilege” (leftist term that means white people don’t have to worry about being targeted or discriminated against for their skin color like non-whites do because of systematic racism, slavery, etc.) and who say there isn’t enough diversity at schools such as Harvard University. I am beyond perplexed, which is not something new when it comes to trying to understand the left, with this whole “segregation is equal” concept. Riddle me this, wouldn’t having a separate blacks-only commencement be hypocritical to this belief that we need more diversity and that white privilege stems from discrimination and slavery? Is this not pedaling back to a time where water fountains, bathrooms, schools, towns, etc. were segregated? This event degrades and discredits the incredible actions took by brave protestors and activists during the Civil Rights Movement. In his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, Martin Luther King Jr. said,

“I have a dream that one day little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls.”

“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

“Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”

Graduation is a memorable, important moment where all students come together, despite what their skin color is, and throw their caps up in the air in celebration of this remarkable, shared accomplishment in earning their degree, which they all worked hard for. I don’t agree with or understand the purpose of this black commencement. I feel as though it is separating the students and the community by race and in no way could it possibly bring them together as a whole. There is certainly no logic in saying that it could. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “We cannot turn back” which I believe, is exactly what the Harvard University ‘Black Commencement 2017’ is unfortunately doing.