Black Graduation

Black Graduation 2019

Monday May 20th at 7:00pm, Zellerbach Hall


Online registration will close on May 10, 2019. Only people who have registered by this date are guaranteed to have their names and majors listed in the program. People who register after May 10 may still participate in Black Graduation, but are not guaranteed to be included in the program, nor are they guaranteed access to tickets.

As a registered participant you can  pick up two complimentary tickets April 16- May 10th, 2019 in 660 Barrows Hall from 9-12 and 1-4 Monday through Friday. You may also purchase 5 tickets at the Zellerbach Box office beginning Tuesday April 16th (for $5.00 each).  Beginning May 14th the remaining tickets will go on sale and students can purchase up to 5 additional tickets at the Zellerbach Box Office on a first come, first serve basis.

Graduates do not need a ticket. All guests will need tickets, including children over two years of age. Please arrive at 5:45pm on May 20th to check in for the ceremony. We need all the graduates in the venue by 6:00 pm when the doors open to the public. Looking forward to seeing you all in your caps and gowns on May 20th!

Keynote Speaker: Daphne Muse

Daphne Muse has spent the last six decades speaking truth to power, beginning as a social activist at William McKinley High School in Washington, D.C. Broadly well-educated in public schools in Washington, she graduated with a B.A. in American and English Literature from Fisk University. Muse put her life-long learning skills to use as a social activist and educator, where she served on the faculty at U.C. Berkeley and Mills. At Berkeley, she was the Research Coordinator for the McNair Scholars Program. That mission includes getting first generation students to secure their Ph.D.’s and become future academics, researchers, and scholars. Muse served on the faculty at Mills from 1975-1983 and 1991-1993 and from 2004-2009 and served as the director of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Mills. In addition to her work as an educator, she is the author and editor of numerous children’s books, including Children of Africa and Prejudice: Stories About Hate, Ignorance, Revelation, and Transformation. Ms. Muse has recently curated the “Daphne Muse Letters Collection: Correspondence Documenting Black History and Culture across the Diaspora (1898-2019),” comprising more than 3,700 handwritten and typed letters dating back to 1958 reflects the voices of activists, writers, artists, actors, world leaders and media innovators who shaped movements, created new artistic visions and drove the intellectual and cultural discourse for civil rights and human rights for the 20th and the early years of the 21st century.


You are your ancestors wildest dreams


Student Participation Opportunities:

There are several ways that students can participate in Black Graduation. Students can help select a theme, nominate someone for the Fannie Lou Hamer Award, or audition to be a speaker at Black Grad.

Theme Selection: We will solicit suggestions for this year’ graduation theme in the month of March. This year you can vote for the theme via the multiple choice option on the online registration form. We will finalize the theme of the ceremony by April 22nd.

Fannie Lou Hamer Award Nominations: 2019 is a year in which we will give the Emerging Leader Award.

Speaker Auditions: We will hold auditions during RRR week Tuesday May 7th from 2:30-4 in 650 Barrows Hall and again on Friday May 10th from 1-2:30 in 681A Barrows Hall for the following four speaking opportunities:

  • Welcome remarks: a 2-3 minute speech; restricted to declared African American Studies majors
  • Theme address: 3-5 minute speech on the theme selected for this year’s ceremony
  • Introduction of the keynote speaker: 1-2 minute speech introducing the keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony, including some biographical details
  • Introduction of the Fannie Lou Hamer Award recipient: 1-2 minute speech introducing the recipient of this year’s award, including some biographical details

The audition committee will include faculty, staff, and AAS majors. Students selected for speaking opportunities will, if necessary, be given feedback to assist in the revision of their remarks. Student speakers will be required to submit a finalized copy of their speech by May 11th.

Background Information:

As always, Black Graduation is planned and hosted by the staff and faculty in the Department of African American Studies as the primary graduation ceremony for students earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in African American and African Diaspora Studies. While our first responsibility is to serve our majors, we are happy to open up the ceremony to students graduating from other programs as a service to the broader Cal community.





For any questions about the Black Graduation planning process, please email


Check out the Black Alumni Association here