Black Graduation Recognition Celebration

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.

Participants are presented with a cord during the event, which includes speeches by the NIU president, the director of the Center for Black Studies, a student and an alum, as well as awards and performances. Black faculty and staff will also be present to help out. This a celebration for us, by us!

The 34th annual celebration will take place on Saturday, May 6, 2023.

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 2023 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.


Registration is required, though it’s not open yet. We’ll provide more information online and through email and social media.

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.

2022 Award Recipients 

  • Bob Starks Award: David Seymour
  • LaVerne Gyant Award: Jessica Fullilove and Linda Dillard-Golden
  • Zike-Daniel Award: Kayla Taylor and Devlin Collins
  • Transformation Impact Award: Marsean Moore and Ambria Hughes

Contact Us

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

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Fall Hours

Monday-Thursday: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday Closed