Wayne State University will host a virtual African American Graduation Celebration on June 19, with the digital version of the university’s long-running ceremony featuring recorded addresses from President M. Roy Wilson, Board of Governors member Shirley Stancato and other university leaders.
After the coronavirus forced organizers to cancel the in-person celebration scheduled for April 25, the event was moved to its June date to coincide with the Juneteenth holiday, which was established to commemorate the liberation of blacks enslaved in the U.S.
The university has held the event for 28 years, each iteration drawing successively larger throngs of students, relatives, alumni and community leaders to cheer on the broad diversity of honorees. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak and nationwide protests against police brutality, this year’s event offers an especially welcome dose of optimism.
“Given the challenges that have confronted the African American community at Wayne State as well as throughout the city, we are grateful and excited for the opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of our students,” said Wilson. “Things will be different this year, of course, but the African American Graduation Celebration continues to be an important expression of our commitment to our students’ success.”
Added event organizer Maxine Hudgins, a university counselor: “Even after we canceled the event in April, we knew we needed to find some way to carry on the tradition of the celebration. Each year’s event is special in its own right, but this year’s celebration is as meaningful as any we’ve ever had.”
The Juneteenth event will be featured on YouTube starting at 6:19 p.m.
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Wayne State held a virtual commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 in April. The university plans to hold an in-person commencement ceremony when WSU officials deem conditions safe to proceed.