Black Graduation 2016

Black Graduation 2016

May 21, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Zellerbach Hall

Keynote Speaker: Beverly Guy-Sheftall 



BEVERLY GUY-SHEFTALL is a founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center and an Anna Julia Cooper Professor of women’s studies at Spelman College. She is also an adjunct professor at Emory University’s Institute for Women’s Studies where she teaches graduate courses in their doctoral program.

At the age of sixteen, Guy-Sheftall entered Spelman College where she majored in English and minored in secondary education. After graduation with honors, she attended Wellesley College for a fifth year of study in English. After a year at Wellesley, she entered Atlanta University to pursue a master’s degree in English. Her thesis was entitled “Faulkner’s Treatment of Women in His Major Novels.” A year later Guy-Sheftall began her first teaching job in the Department of English at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1971 she returned to her alma mater, Spelman College, and joined the English Department.

Guy-Sheftall has published a number of texts within African American and women’s studies which include the first anthology on black women’s literature, Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature, which she coedited with Roseann P. Bell and Bettye Parker Smith; her dissertation, Daughters of Sorrow: Attitudes Toward Black Women, 1880-1920; and Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought. Her most recent publication is an anthology she coedited with Rudolph P. Byrd entitled Traps: African American Men on Gender and Sexuality. She has also completed with Johnnetta Betsch Cole a monograph, Gender Talk: The Struggle for Equality in African American Communities. In 1983 she became founding editor of Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women which was devoted exclusively to the experiences of African descent.

Guy-Sheftall is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, among them a National Kellogg Fellowship; a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for dissertations in women’s studies; and Spelman’s Presidential Faculty Award for outstanding scholarship. She is a member of the Board of Trustees at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has been involved with the national women’s studies movement since its inception and provided leadership for the establishment of the first women’s studies major at a historically black college. Beyond the academy, she has been involved in a number of advocacy organizations which include the National Black Women’s Health Project, the National Council for Research on Women, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, on whose boards she serves. In her role as director of Spelman’s Women’s Center, she has also been involved with the development of student activism around misogynist images of Black women in hip hop as well as a broad range of social justice issues, including reproductive rights and violence against women. She teaches women’s studies courses, including feminist theory and global Black feminisms.

(Biography taken from The Feminist Press @ The City University of New York. For more information please see




As a registered participant you can  pick up two complimentary tickets April 19- May 9th, 2016 in 660 Barrows Hall from 9-12 and 1-4 Monday through Friday. Beginning May 10th 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 12:30 on May 21s to check in for the ceremony. We need all graduates in by 1 pm when the doors open to the public. Looking forward to seeing you all in your caps and gowns on May 21st!  Please note that the Department will be videotaping the ceremony and copies can be purchased a few weeks after the commencement ceremony, if you are interested.


Student Participation Opportunities:

There are several ways that students can participate in Black Graduation. Students can help select a theme, nominate someone for the Emerging Leader 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 15.

Emerging Leader Award Nominations: 2015 is a year in which we will give the Emerging Leader Award. This award is designed to recognize someone who is early in his or her career of doing positive work on behalf of the local African American community. The eligibility requirements are:

  • Someone who is under the age of 35 or, if older than 35, is within ten (10) years of having earned an undergraduate degree.
  • Someone who has been working in a community service capacity for at least five (5) years.

To submit nominations, please send an email to that includes the name, professional title, qualifications, and contact information of the emerging leader by April 15, 2015. The faculty in the Department of African American Studies will evaluate the nominees and select and notify an award recipient.

Speaker Auditions: We will hold auditions during RRR week (May 2-6) 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 Emerging Leader Award recipient: 1-2 minute speech introducing the recipient of this year’s Emerging Leader 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 13th.

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