Illinois State University is hosting its annual pre-commencement recognition ceremony Umoja: Celebration of Black Graduates at 7 p.m. May 10.
A celebration of African-American and other students of color, the event honors those with unyielding determination who have successfully completed undergraduate and graduate degrees from Illinois State in 2018. Students interested in taking part in the recognition ceremony can register until April 1 at http://umojaisu.weebly.com/.
“This is a time for everyone to experience a celebration of African American culture,” said senior Daniel Jackson, who has volunteered for the ceremony since his freshman year. “Celebrations are such an important part of African American culture, and there is no one way to celebrate. Each year is new and exciting.”
After volunteering for years, Jackson will take part in the ceremony as a senior. “Now it is my turn to hear my name called, and I hope the campus community will join us,” he said. “Umoja is a way for the campus community to embrace the diversity Illinois State represents, and be part of honoring a black excellence.”
Faculty, staff, and community representatives are needed to assist with the event, and with the Harambee Circle, which functions similarly to a circle of elders for the event. The circle consists of those who have supported, advocated for, taught and/or encouraged students to reach this important goal.
For those interested in volunteering, please sign up by April 13. For those interested in taking part in the Harambee Circle, while the Circle remains open we would like if people sign up by May 1 at http://umojaisu.weebly.com/.
“This is a chance to do more to support our students of color,” said Professor Beth Hatt of the College of Education, who has been part of the Harambee Circle since Umoja began at Illinois State. “It’s very different than the formal graduation ceremony. At Umoja, audience participation and celebration is encouraged. It is a wonderful cultural experience.”
This year’s Umoja theme is: Transgress * Transcend * Transform. The theme reflects the graduates’ abilities to go beyond limitations and make dramatic change. “This year’s theme pays homage to our fortitude, resiliency, and ability to enact social change,” said Tamekia Bailey of University College, which helps plan the graduation recognition ceremony.