LOS ANGELES – A nationwide virtual graduation celebration for black high school students hosted by Black College Expo and the Los Angeles Urban League is set for Friday.
“2020 Black High School Graduation: Rites of Passage” will allow high school students to share their achievements despite the lack of in-person ceremonies across the nation.
The 90-minute commencement, expected to draw thousands of students, will be live-streamed at laul.org and simulcast on ktla.com at 3 p.m.
Hosted by Emmy award-winning television host Shaun Robinson, the event includes special appearances from comedian Kel Mitchell and surprise guests, including cultural and academic leaders who will perform, offer shout-outs and give spoken word presentations and inspiring speeches.
Cal State Dominguez Hills President Thomas Parham will be the keynote speaker.
Organizers said they want to balance the closed schools, social isolation, food scarcity and parental unemployment brought by the coronavirus pandemic with a forum where high school students can experience love, hope, trust and connectedness with the people who are proud of their achievements. The event aims to be a call to action as well as a beacon of hope.
“This generation’s passage into adulthood is marked by its own crumbling twin towers of racism and systemic failure — and now, a devastating pandemic. We need to open the door to let these young people bring new solutions to the table,” said Brian Williams, vice president and COO of the Los Angeles Urban League.
Black College Expo Founder Theresa Price said, “we have been receiving so many calls from our black community looking for direction.”
“I know that our black students already feel disconnected from the system, so we wanted to do something to help them feel celebrated and appreciated,” Price said.
Students will be grouped by high schools and will share the experience with classmates, family and teachers in their own “private room” equipped with chat and video functions. The celebration hopes to be “a guidepost for graduating students to reimagine their lives after high school and gather the strength to succeed in a world in which violence and racism are running rampant.”
Participants are asked to register at laul.org/2020black grad.