The Southern University graduating Class of 2020 is in for a special treat, as they are honored virtually by an all-star line-up, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, on Saturday, May 16. The celebration, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase, will honor the achievements of more than 20,000 students from 78 Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“Like most academic institutions across the country, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been forced to cancel or postpone commencement ceremonies due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said JPMorgan Chase in a statement. “We believe HBCU students and their families have earned this moment.”
All campuses of the Southern University System, the only HBCU system in the nation, are participating. Chancellors from each campus — Southern University Baton Rouge, Southern University at New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport and Southern University Law Center — will also be featured, giving words of encouragement to graduates. Other special guests include comedian and actor Kevin Hart, actor Omari Hardwick, and businesswoman Mellody Hobson.
JPMorgan Chase is supporting this effort through its Advancing Black Pathways initiative, which was created to help black communities close historical achievement gaps in three key areas: wealth creation, educational outcomes and career success to complete their bachelor’s degree. Additional organizers for the event include Howard University, The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and United Negro College Fund.