Virginia Tech’s Black Organizations Council will hold the annual Donning of the Kente ceremony on Thursday, May 16, at 2 p.m. at the Graduate Life Center at Donaldson-Brown.

The ceremony celebrates the current accomplishments of graduating black students as well as the history of black students' achievements at Virginia Tech. The event is free and open to the public, family, and friends are encouraged to attend as an important part of this recognition ceremony.

During the ceremony, a member of the Black Cultural Center Alumni Advisory Board will address the students and guests, and friends and family of the graduates are offered the opportunity to share remarks about the student before draping him or her in the stripes of Kente, a colorful cloth stole native to Ghana. 

Though Kente was developed in the 17th century by the Ashanti people, it has its roots in a long tradition of African weaving, dating back to about 3000 B.C. Often reserved for special occasions or royalty, the stole is a visual representation of history, philosophy, ethics, oral literature, religious beliefs, social values, and political thoughts.

The ceremony also offers community members a chance to say goodbye to students who have been a part of the community for several years.

“One of the things that makes our Donning of the Kente ceremony unique and special is that we give family and friends a chance to come on stage and share heartfelt words of love and congratulations to their graduate before donning them with a Kente stole,” said Black Organizations Council President Lauren Heming of Alexandria, Va., a senior majoring in accounting in the Pamplin College of Business. “This part of the ceremony is always emotional and fills a lot of audience members with tears of joy.”

For information on the ceremony and other multicultural programs, visit the Multicultural Programs and Services website.

Written by Tracy Price.

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