Berkeley 'Black Graduation' under fire for bringing back 'Democrats' segregationist history'

The University of California-Berkeley’s African American Studies Department will hold a separate graduation ceremony for its students, in addition to the school's traditional commencement ceremony for all students.

One student equated the separate ceremony to the “21st century equivalent of separate but equal."

The University of California-Berkeley’s African American Studies Department announced it would be hosting its annual “Black Graduation” ceremony for students on May 19 in a virtual format.

“The Department of African American Studies plans on hosting our annual Black Graduation ceremony, which is open to all majors and degree programs across the campus,” read the announcement

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The separate ceremony for African American students appears to have started as an annual event at the public university in 2013. The graduation ceremony is separate from the main graduation ceremony, which will be held virtually on May 15. 

Megan Wang, a sophomore at UC-Berkeley told Campus Reform this decision to hold separate ceremonies is the “21st century equivalent of separate but equal.” 

She told Campus Reform that it sends the message to students that “their race fundamentally differentiates them from other students.” 

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California College Republicans Communications Director Dylan Martin told Campus Reform that this decision “furthers the division in this country.” 

“We’re disheartened to see universities like Columbia and now Berkeley veer so far to the left that they’re resurrecting Democrats’ segregationist history. Encouraging our separation into groups – saying there should be something separate and special for different races – furthers the division in this country. The solution to racism is not segregation. CCR is happy to represent all College Republicans in the state in condemning these segregationist actions,” Martin said. 

Campus Reform reached out to the Department of African American Studies as well as UC-Berkeley for further comment, but a response was not received in time for publication.

On Tuesday, Campus Reform reported that Columbia University would hold six identity-based commencement ceremonies, including, a “Native Graduation Celebration,” “Lavender Graduation Celebration” for LGBTQ students, “Asian Graduation Celebration,” “First-generation and Low-Income student Graduation Celebration,” “Latinx Graduation Celebration,” and “Black Graduation Celebration.” 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ashleyecarnhan