‘A virtual graduation is also special’: Howard grad lends voice to HBCU livestream ceremony

While thousands of graduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities were not able to participate in graduation on their home campuses, many logged onto Facebook to participate in a virtual graduation presented by HBCU connect where college presidents, celebrities and President Barack Obama spoke.

One of the speakers in the hours-long ceremony was Howard graduate Brandon Alan, who grew up in Detroit and said he was the first member of his family to graduate from college.

Alan told the story of going on college tours as a middle-school student, and visiting Ivy League schools along with HBCUs like Howard, Spellman and Morehouse.

He said Howard was the only school that he could remember from the tour, but when he arrived on campus, it took him some time to feel comfortable.

“But after two or three weeks of trial-and-error, I felt a sense of community, started to feel at home, and fell in love with my blackness,” he said.

“Being a first-generation graduate is a huge deal to me, my mother, my father and my grandparents, but I hope it’s a bigger deal for my nieces and nephews.”

The celebration invited 27,000 graduates from 78 historically black colleges and universities to tune in to celebrate their achievements with entertainment and inspirational messages.

The event, hosted by Kevin Hart, also featured Barack Obama, Anthony Hamilton, Common and Senator Kamala Harris, among many other black leaders, academics and influencers.

See the archive of the HBCU graduation event livestream.

NBA star Chris Paul was one of the hosts of the Chase HBCU Show Me Your Walk livestream graduation.

Howard grad Mya Christian said the virtual graduation was “a special experience.” She said Saturday’s virtual event “was definitely something that I anticipated to be different, but being able to be celebrated is what was most important. It’s definitely a job well done, in terms of bringing us all together”

Interspersed with speeches and congratulatory messages, some students were featured in photo galleries.

Marc Morial is a former mayor of New Orleans, and the son of the first black mayor of the city. While he’s a law graduate from Georgetown, he wore a Howard sweatshirt during his address to grads. He currently serves as the president of the National Urban League.

Graduates from the Class of 2020 sent in photos that were featured during the event on Saturday afternoon.

Actor Omari Hardwick performed a spoken word piece during the livestream. One phrase? “You are the why we will make it out of the mess,” he told the graduates. “You are now the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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