MOSAIC hosts spring 2022 Black Graduation


Anne Akpabio

Black graduates stand together on the stage at the end of the ceremony, 2022.

On May 6, 2022, the MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center hosted Black Graduation in the Akin Auditorium. The event started at 7 pm and was in honor of students who are African American, have African descent, or identify as Black. The hosts of the event were Tobi Oladipo, management and information systems senior, and Ibukun Dosumu, Black Stand Council representative. The event started with a tribute to the Kickapoo and Arapaho tribes and all the other indigenous people that once called the MSU territory their home. After this, the attendees were asked to stand and sing along with Brittany Roberts, sociology graduate, as she led the Black National Anthem. Following this was the Libation Ceremony, which was led by the rev. Marcus Jones. This ceremony paid tribute to the African ancestors and the predecessors of the current black generation who lived and died around the time of slavery.

“The Libation Ceremony is one of the moments where we bring in together the African diaspora in all the ways in which we gather. It is one of those things that solidifies for us that this is not just something for this moment, but this is historical and ancestral,” said Jones.

Jones said Black Graduation is an impactful and important event for the Black Graduates because it is a focused celebration of them and their predecessors.

“I think Black Graduation is important because it is one of the few moments in the matriculation process of the students that they will be acknowledged not just for graduating but for their cultural identity and heritage. This is one of the few times in their lives where the focus will be on them because of their achievement from a communal and ancestral place…although the main graduation is tomorrow,  tomorrow they become one of many,” said Jones.

Black graduates line up at the front seating before the start of the black graduation ceremony, 2022.
Black graduates line up at the front seating before the start of the black graduation ceremony, 2022. (Anne Akpabio)

The representative of the Black Stand Council also described this event as impactful and important for the representation of the Black community at MSU.

“Yes I do, I think black graduation is impactful to the black graduates because it is important to be represented and it is important that the university shows appreciation and shows Black students in a predominantly white institution are being recognized,” Dosumu said.

The ceremony highlighted the importance of celebrating black graduates and their achievements throughout their college life. Samuel Hodges a graduating economics student described the importance of the event and how important it was for him to be recognized.

“Black Graduation is very important to me because it shows how we go through a lot as Black American people and it feels good to be recognized,” Hodges said.

The event shed light on diversity and inclusion. Shontay Tatum, graduating in social work, described the ceremony as one that celebrates diversity and Black achievement.

“Black graduation means to me celebrating one diversity and also celebrating the hardships that have made it difficult in achieving my diploma and celebrating overcoming those hardships,”  Tatum said.

The MOSAIC center started Black Graduation back in 2019 to recognize Black graduates. In this ceremony, one of the student organizers of the first-ever Black Graduation at MSU got to participate in the ceremony as a Black graduate. Jay Surles described the moment as sentimental and meaningful.

“Black graduation is a little bit more sentimental to me than most graduates because I was a part of that first Committee that did the first Black graduation back in 2019 and so now being here graduating and getting to do the ceremony has been a very meaningful experience to me…I would describe it as a full-circle moment,” said Surles.

The graduates also got to experience an in-person ceremony this year without a mandatory mask mandate and described it as impactful and emotional.

“I am extremely excited because throughout this process you kind of got to see the smiles of everybody and a glimpse of what they have gone through and how much it has paid off,” Hodges said.

The family and friends of the graduates were present to share this celebratory and impactful moment with the graduates.

“I definitely believe it has made it more impactful to me, I am somebody who just loves to have my family with me celebrating it in real-time,” Tatum said.

The ceremony was centered on the achievements of the graduates and how their individual achievements would become a collaborative form of excellence for the Black Community. Lumiere Bisisi described the event as one that represents the Black culture and celebrates Black excellence.

“Before 2019 we didn’t have something like this but now we have something that represents the Black culture and I truly believe that it is a good thing for us to celebrate Black excellence. It is something that makes an impact on the student because some students want something that will be able to celebrate them as Black people and just be able to show their greatness,” said Bisisi.

The event ever since its inception was a learning experience for the officers of the MOSAIC Cross Cultural center. The event has grown much since its inception due to the support and assistance of MSU and the MOSAIC coordinators. Ibukun Dosumu spoke of how the event has improved over its lifespan in terms of the experience and funding.

“It’s much better now because there’s better leadership and we’re getting more input from other people to make the experience better, there’s a bigger community, there’s more funding which just improves the quality of the event in general,” Dosumu said.

Lastly, Bisisi spoke on how the MOSAIC Center contributed immensely to the growth and success of Black Graduation over its lifespan.

“When it started in 2019 we didn’t have that many people graduating and coming up to the celebration …but with advertising and a lot of help from MOSAIC we have been able to really push the event to reach a lot of black people and we believe that MOSAIC has played a huge part for this event, not just supporting us financially but supporting marketing,” Bisisi said.