Celebrating the “Brilliance and Resilience” of Black High School Graduates

An event tonight at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute will honor African American students from more than 30 area schools.

This evening, African American students from more than 30 schools across Puget Sound will come together to celebrate their graduation from high school and highlight the achievements of black youth in the Seattle area.

The graduation, hosted by the community group Africatown, aims to “lift up their brilliance and resilience as the most valuable asset we have,” organizer K. Wyking Garrett says.

“Black youth in the United States are the subject of many statistics that paint a bleak picture and negative outlook with respect to their place in our society,” he says, “yet the majority still continue to demonstrate tremendous resilience and move towards success.”

A recent Stanford study of student achievement in 200 of the largest schools in the U.S. found black students in Seattle are performing, on average, one-and-a-half grade levels below the national average, placing them three-and-a-half grades below the averages of Seattle’s white students. This so-called “achievement gap” has been attributed to many factors, including fewer resources at home and unfair treatment from teachers. The event at Africatown seeks to write a new narrative, one to compete with the one we all know, one which seeks to acknowledge the students who have fought hard to earn their diplomas despite the obstacles in their path, organizers say.

In conjunction with the graduation, King County Executive Dow Constantine has proclaimed June 24 to be “Black Graduation Day” in the county.

The Africatown event will feature speakers from Seattle’s black community including WELL project founder Yoli Chisholm and community organizer Willie Jimerson Jr. Also Featured will be performances by Otieno Terry and Youth Poet Laureate Leijah Farr. The celebration seeks not only to congratulate recent graduates for their accomplishments but to also mark the event as a rite of passage from youth to adulthood, as is the tradition of many African cultures.

Mara Palmer, Africatown board member and project manager, says in the future she hopes that the celebration will include scholarships for new graduates in their academic pursuits, as well as expand to include middle school and college graduates from all over the state, praising black achievement in various levels of education.

The graduation event will take place 5-9 p.m. at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Photo via Pexels
King County residents needed for first respiratory study using Apple watches

UW study to help find if devices can detect early warning signs of acute respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 and flu.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Photo courtesy of Johnson and Johnson (jnj.com)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine halted in Washington over side effect

Following federal guidance, Washington health care providers are temporarily pausing Johnson &… Continue reading

File Photo
High court ruling spurs effort to retool state’s drug laws

Meanwhile, the Blake decision has gotten people out jail, charges dismissed and possibly clemency for some.

The Monroe Correctional Complex on April 9, 2020. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Formerly incarcerated people regain right to vote in Washington

Rights restored immediately upon release.

Spring Chinook Salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Salmon update: King County wants cleaner water, more habitat

Salmon and orcas are in the spotlight once again as King County… Continue reading

Guns seized during April 7 arrests (photo credit: Dept. of Justice)
More than 20 arrested across the Puget Sound in drug distribution conspiracy

DOJ says law enforcement agencies seized over 70 guns and hundreds of thousands in cash.

T
Sheriff’s office wants help identifying Green River killer victim

Staff reports In 2003, Gary Ridgway, Washington’s notorious Green River killer, pleaded… Continue reading

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. File photo
King County needs more lawyers to attack backlog of cases

6,107 open cases is double the normal amount for King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Public Health – Seattle & King County staff administering COVID-19 vaccine to a local emergency responder. COURTESY PHOTO, Public Health-Seattle & King County
Starting April 15, everyone 16 and older is eligible for a vaccine

Gov. Inslee said an expected increase in vaccine supply enables the state to open eligibility.

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Phase Finder for vaccine eligibility to be eliminated March 31

Eligibility verification via Phase Finder no longer required for appointments, vaccinations beginning this week.

Courtesy photo
Issaquah School District settles negligence lawsuit for $4.25 million

The lawsuit alleged the district covered for a now-convicted child molester while he was a teacher.