Like most academic institutions around the country, Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been forced to cancel or postpone graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To celebrate the achievements of more than 27,000 students, Black leaders and 78 schools are joining forces virtually during the “Show Me Your Walk HBCU Edition” commencement event presented by Chase on Saturday, May 16 at 2 p.m. ET.
President Barack Obama will share a special message during the event. Hosted by Kevin Hart, guest appearances for the two-hour event will include Steve Harvey, Chase Consumer Banking CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett, Ariel Investments Co-CEO and President Mellody Hobson, National Urban League president, Marc Morial, and academic leaders from participating HBCUs. Other participants include Chris Paul, Vince Carter, Debbie Allen and Vivica Fox.
The virtual commencement will also include performances by Anthony Hamilton, Wyclef Jean, and other musical guests—as well as a drumline mash-up featuring Doug E. Fresh.
The two-hour event will be live-streamed on Chase’s YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn channels, as well as HBCU Connect’s Facebook page and Essence Studios. More information is available on https://hbcustudent.chase.com, including a list of participating schools.
During the event, HBCUs will showcase and highlight past and current graduates, including Class of 2020 students from Howard University, Delaware State, Paul Quinn College, Florida Memorial College and Texas Southern Law Center.
“Every student graduating in the Class of 2020 deserves to celebrate this moment—they earned it, even more so during a challenging year for our country and the world. We are showing up for them because we recognize they are our now and our future, and the way forward is full of opportunity,” said Duckett.
The idea for hosting a virtual commencement ceremony for HBCU students was conceived by Dr. Michael Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College (PQC) and member of the ABP Advisory Council. Additional organizers for the event include Howard University, The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the NBA. Essence is supporting the event as a livestreaming partner.
“As a result of COVID-19, our students have been robbed of a moment that they and their families have earned,” Sorrell said. “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.”
JPMorgan Chase is supporting “Show Me Your Walk HBCU Edition” through its Advancing Black Pathways (ABP) initiative, created to help black communities close historical achievement gaps in three key areas: wealth creation, educational outcomes and career success. Support for HBCUs is a core focus for JPMorgan Chase because of the vital role they continue to play in helping African Americans forge pathways to long-term success. The first HBCUs were founded before the Civil War, and these institutions educated generations of African Americans during a period when other colleges and universities would not.
Today, HBCUs produce 70% of African American doctors and dentists, 50% of black lawyers and 80% of black judges. HBCU graduates can also expect work-life earnings of $130 billion—an additional $927,000 per graduate, 56 percent more than they could expect to earn without their HBCU degrees or certificates, according to UNCF.
“Historically Black Colleges and Universities remain a critical resource in educating our young people and putting them on a path to lasting and rewarding careers,” said Sekou Kaalund, the Head of ABP. “Here at JPMorgan Chase, we are firmly committed to supporting HBCUs and helping them continue a tradition of excellence that has helped generations of black people achieve academic and professional success.”
Like most academic institutions across the country, HBCUs have been forced to cancel or postpone graduation ceremonies. Students from more 78 HBCUs will participate, a graduating population of 20,000 students. Participating schools in Texas include:
• Huston-Tillotson University, Austin Texas
• Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins Texas
• Paul Quinn College, Dallas Texas
• Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View Texas
• Texas College, Tyler Texas
• Wiley College, Marshall Texas
Later that same day, Obama is set to deliver a commencement message during Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, a one-hour multimedia event hosted by XQ Institute, the LeBron James Family Foundation, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The event will feature appearances by LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, H.E.R., Ben Platt and others. It’s set to be simulcast, starting at 8 p.m. ET, on ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC as well as via 20-plus other broadcast and digital streaming partners.