Closing Remarks

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My closing remarks for the GVSU Black Graduating Class of 2016!

“You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”

–Dr. Maya Angelou

  • Thank you to all of the Black Faculty & Staff that are present.
  • Thank you to all of our non-Black allies that are present.
  • Thank you to the Black Graduation committee, ReChard, Sharalle, Brandon, and Jakia
  • Thank you to the Black Faculty Staff Association – Dr. Nikki Gaines, Takeelia Garrett, Tara Bivens, Dr. DJ Mitchell, Dr. Sherry Johnson, Brenda Mitchner, Dr. Michael Scantlebury, Dr. Louis Moore
  • Thank you to the Division of Inclusion and Equity and Dr. Jesse Bernal

“The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”

-James A. Baldwin

There are those that want to be you. They want your hair. They want your skin. They want your lips. They want your hips. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but this is not flattery-it is theft.

This is why when I am asked, “Why a Black graduation?” I say, “Because I want to have one and you don’t own me.” This is the one thing they don’t own, BLACKNESS. It is not necessary for me to tell anyone why I want to celebrate Black. Why I love being Black. Why I am in love with a Black woman. Why I love my Black children. Why I love my Black students. Why I love Black people.

Take pride in who you are, the journey you’ve taken, and the adventures you have yet to go on.

“The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.
-Marcus Garvey

When you love who you are, you celebrate who you are. So today we celebrate you Grand Valley State University Black Graduates of 2016.

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