Black Graduation Recognition Celebration

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Every spring the Center for Black Studies proudly presents the Black Graduation Recognition Celebration. This pre-commencement event recognizes graduates who have successfully completed an undergraduate or graduate degree. There are no tickets; seating is first-come, first-served.

The event includes speeches by NIU's president, the director of the Center for Black Studies, a current student and an alumni as well as performances and a presentation of cords and awards to students. Black faculty and staff will also be present. This is a celebration for us and by us!

The 36th annual celebration will take place on May 5, 2024 (time to be announced)

If you have any questions, contact Gaylen Rivers at


If you're graduating during the calendar year, you can participate, whether you're graduating in the spring, summer, fall or winter. For example, if you're graduating in December 2023, you would participate in the spring 2024 celebration.

You don't need to have taken any Black studies courses or participated in a Center for Black Studies retention program in order to participate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this in place of the NIU commencement ceremony?

No. This event doesn't replace the NIU commencement ceremony. It's an additional celebration meant to celebrate you and your accomplishment.

What is the dress code?

Graduates are strongly encouraged to wear all-black attire (cocktail/business).

Can I get a cord if I can't attend the celebration, or if I want one in advance?

Traditionally, cords are only given out in person at the ceremony in recognition of students' participation, not as a graduation gift.

Will the Center for Black Studies be selling Kente stoles?

Yes! They will be available for purchase for $20. Quantities are limited.

2023 Award Recipients

  • Bob Starks Award: Melody Mitchell and Menelek Shaw
  • LaVerne Gyant Award: Thuwebat Adebayo and Deanna Field
  • Zike-Daniel Award: Kianna Graves
  • Transformation Impact Award: Calvin Jackson and Ransom Holmes III

View 2023 Photo Gallery

Contact Us

Center for Black Studies
815-753-9291 (fax)

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Office Hours

Monday – Thursday: 8 a.m.- 9 p.m. 
Saturday – Sunday: Closed