National HBCU Commencement Celebration Revealed for May 16

Historically black colleges and universities nationwide will join a slate of celebrity and corporate partners to present an unprecedented virtual celebration of graduates next month.

The inaugural ‘National HBCU Commencement Celebration’ will be presented on Saturday, May 16 in partnership with Essence Studios, and through the support of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.

Organizers say that the celebration, an effort to salute graduates in keeping with state and national COVID-19 pandemic response guidelines, virtually maintains the tradition of honoring the success and sacrifice of thousands of students and families nationwide.



As the result of COVID-19, our students have been robbed of a moment that they and their families have earned,” said Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell, creator of the National HBCU Commencement Celebration. “I am so grateful that this coalition of partners stepped up to answer the call of the HBCU community and stand in the gap for our students and their families.”

Corporate partners include the National Basketball Association and JPMorgan Chase.

“Graduating from college is a sacred moment in a student’s life, and we are honored to support HBCUs, students and their families as we navigate one of the most unique and challenging periods in our nation’s history,” said Sekou Kaalund, the Head of Advancing Black Pathways. “Education is core to our mission of creating opportunity, and we are committed to helping black college students and graduates navigate this difficult environment and get on a path to lasting and rewarding careers.”

Officials say that the celebration will also raise funds for direct support to institutions and students impacted by the global coronavirus outbreak.