The Center for African American Students’ Programs is making plans for the annual Donning of Kente Celebration of Achievement. The event will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse.
The celebration and cap-and-gown ceremony will begin with a processional that will include graduating students, university deans, faculty and President Stephen J. Kopp.
The keynote speaker will be William A. Smith, superintendent of schools in Cabell County, who is an alumnus of Marshall.
“We take pride once again to bring to our campus and community the richness of this centuries-old and unusual ceremony,” said Maurice Cooley, director of the center. “The Kente ceremonial tradition, with its roots in West Africa, recognizes an individual for his/her extraordinary accomplishments and brings to us the spirit of this event.”
The ceremony takes place each spring for African and African American students who graduated from Marshall University during the winter and those slated for graduation in May or during the coming summer school term. Cooley emphasized that all Marshall and Huntington community members are welcome to attend.
The Kente cloth, which resembles a stole and is worn with the academic regalia, is a symbol of accomplishment that has its roots in a long tradition of weaving in West African countries. Marshall instituted the tradition of presenting Kente cloths to graduating African American students several years ago, and approximately 50 students are expected to participate along with university deans, faculty and staff.
Cooley said the Donning of Kente Celebration of Achievement is one of the most prestigious and culturally significant events in which Marshall’s African and African American students can participate.
The following woven cloths will be awarded during the Donning of Kente celebration: Owia Repue for associate degrees; Babadua for bachelor’s degrees; Kyemfere for master’s degrees; and Akyem Shield for post-master’s degrees.
African music will be provided by the Marshall University African Dance and Drum ensemble, directed by James Hall. A reception will follow for all participants and those in attendance.