(A guest post from Edrees Saied, a graduating senior from Oakland Tech, headed to San Jose State in the Fall, who walked this week at Tech’s first Black graduation, he has some other powerful work here)
Limitations only exist in the mind, so don’t get it confused.
That’s what I said as I walked the stage on Black Grad Night at Oakland Tech. I used to just think that I was a part of my school, but this event made me feel like a member of something much larger. It was one of those rare moments in school when I felt like I truly belonged. For us, the graduates, the ceremony personally meant reaching the end of dark maze after four years of confusion.
Being OUSD’s first Black Grad Night, you can see that it was no ordinary graduation. Everyone in the auditorium felt a part of this one big family. Sharing the same struggles. Working just as hard for success. And that hard work paid off big time. Black families got to see their young scholars walk that stage with their brothers and sisters with pride, dignity, and integrity.
To others, it’s just a ceremony. But to the African American community, it’s way more.
It represents unity amongst African Americans, and emphasizes an opportunity for inclusion instead of segregation, something we would otherwise see in a regular graduation.
Some feelings just can’t be into words for me to tell you. You’ll only feel it once when you’re there. Joining Black moms to cheer out loud for their young scholars. Feeling the emotion in their voice as they scream from the top of their lungs. Watching a mother walking the stage for her lost son, Davon Ellis, who would’ve graduated this year. All that is priceless. And it’s too important to ignore. One of my Black friends told me that he felt like he was “making history, for real,” in the face of his own community.
The fact that Oakland Tech was rejected several times just to have this event is absurd. Our Black Grad Night is how the African American community is confronting the hidden segregation in our schools. So I don’t know why it would be a problem.
We shouldn’t have to fight and struggle just so African Americans could hold their own graduation ceremony. We need an opportunity to be recognized. Not as high school dropouts, but as academic scholars who have risen up from the mud.