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.