Students Organizing Black Graduate Photo On Old Main Steps

A Penn State graduation photo of a different sort will be held this Sunday on the Old Main steps. A black graduates picture will be taken on May 3 at 1 p.m. to celebrate the black graduates and remember a time when black students were banned from institutions of higher education.

In an e-mail, Penn State’s president for its chapter of the National Council of Negro Women, Sheryl Edmondson, invited all black graduates to join the picture.

“In honor of the plethora of Black students at Penn State that will be graduating this semester we would like to invite you all (graduating seniors) to take a group photo with your fellow grads and faculty and staff members,” it reads.

According to Edmonson, the idea came from senior Terrell Finner after a GroupMe conversation regarding the lack of a commencement ceremony specifically for black graduates despite the fact that they exist at other universities.

“It’s an opportunity for us to express our solidarity and exude such a positive image in light of all the negative media attention that blacks are consistently given,” she said. “The photo sort of reshapes the narrative of who we are as a people and what we can obtain.”

The students chose Old Main after Finner proposed the classic backdrop which, she said, represents a time when blacks weren’t allowed at the university.

“I am attending this event because I believe that it is important to highlight the black students here that are graduating, especially since there are so very few of us,” she explained. “In addition, I feel as though it is a great opportunity for all of us seniors to celebrate with one another particularly because there are so many separate commencement ceremonies.”

Attendees should have their cap and gown for the photo and are urged to arrive promptly.

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About the Author

Brandilyn Heckman

is a junior majoring in Secondary Education (English). Though she commutes to class from her home in Penns Valley, she refuses to be called a 'townie.' Along with Onward State, she currently interns with the Centre Daily Times. In her spare time, she is unafraid to show her love for Penn State, Landon Donovan, and Captain America. You can follow her on twitter at @Brandilynh or contact her via email with [email protected]


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