The coronavirus thought that it was going to come in and disrupt the ebb and flow on Black excellence, but just like much of the stuff that you hear from the White House … The Devil is a Lie! No one was going to let the graduation of the Class of 2020 go by without the extraordinary fanfare usually associated with Black colleges and universities.

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So educators, celebrities, corporations and financial services shifted their attention to this weekend, to create an experience that will be memorable.

To start off, Essence will present a virtual #ShowMeYourWalk HBCU Edition commencement with Barack Obama as their keynote speaker. But after the grads hear from one of Black America’s most celebrated voices, they will get to jam with one of Black America’s most celebrated emcees and DJ.


May 16th at 9 pm (EST), people will be encouraged to rock over to Instagram Live to D-Nice’s profile to join the #ShowMeYourWalk HBCU Grad party.

Hennessy will be celebrating HBCU students who will miss the milestone of graduation this year by powering the jam. Appearances will be made by rappers Nas and A$AP Ferg — adding their own twist on getting the celebration right.

The strict rule that only those 21 and older are invited to set at Club Quarantine will be enforced by the virtual bouncer on the set. Maybe not, but it is super responsible for the brand to make mention that this is an adult online space.

They have teamed up with the good people at the United Negro College Fund and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to flush out the experience so that attendees can truly party with a purpose. People will have the opportunity to donate to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund benefiting public Black colleges and universities while they bob in celebration of the grads.

But what we know is that recent grads, most certainly the Class of 2020, will not have that disposable income to make a sizable contribution. So the jam has opened up a little more to include the Notorious Class of 1995, who are celebrating their Silver Anniversary, 25 years after showing off their walk across the stage. These Gen Xers come to the occasion to celebrate their own milestone of a quarter decade of excellence and to model how to donate (because let’s face it you have to see that before you do it). They are also going to show these younguns how to party. Let’s face it … 1995 was the year that partying went to the next level with Bad Boy, Uptown, Def Jam, Loud, and Death Row basically dominating the Hip-Hop scene.

A perfect pairing as the Class of 2020 is most certainly A$AP friendly. They are the 20/20 class of clarity and vision. Class of 1995 would have been the class that Nas would have graduated from had he not become a teen star with Illmatic and “Live at the Bar B Que.” The thought to tie generations this way speaks to the mission of the UNCF and TMCF: Legacy building through our history, present, and future.

This is not the first time that Hennessy has partnered with Black colleges. Through their Hennessy Thurgood Marshall Fund Fellows, they are equipping the next generation of diverse C-suite leaders through financial assistance, access and experiences.  

As they enter the next phase this partnership, resources and access will be expanded to all HBCU students, including a first-ever online academy. Launching in June, the learning resource will be available to Hennessy Fellows and all HBCU students aged 21+.  The program is designed specifically for diverse candidates, the platform pulls back the curtain to C-Suite leaders, offering transparent insights and resources to help students navigate corporate America. For more information click here.

Until then, “Happy Graduation” to the Class of 2020 and Silver Anniversary to the Class of 1995.

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