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A virtual commencement with HBCUs helps graduates walk into the future

In partnership with 78 historically Black colleges and universities, Chase is helping 27,000 students celebrate their graduation.

Like most academic institutions around the country, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been forced to cancel or postpone graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On May 16 at 2:00 pm ET, many of the country's black leaders and entertainers are joining forces with 78 HBCUs for "Show Me Your Walk HBCU Edition," a virtual commencement to celebrate the achievements of more than 27,000 HBCU graduating students, presented by Chase.

Hosted by comedian Kevin Hart, the 2-hour event will include a special message from former President Barack Obama, as well as commencement speeches, well-wishes and performances from a host of actors, entertainers and sports stars. Featured speakers and performers include comedian Steve Harvey, NBA All-Stars Chris Paul and Vince Carter, dance legend Debbie Allen, actress Vivica A. Fox, and musical stars Anthony Hamilton, Wyclef Jean, Omari Hardwick and Doug E. Fresh.

The virtual graduation will also feature prominent black leaders, including National Urban League president Marc Morial, Chase Consumer Banking CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett, Ariel Investments Co-CEO and President Mellody Hobson, and academic leaders from participating HBCUs.

Show Me Your Walk HBCU Edition will be live-streamed on Chase's YouTube and Twitter channels, JPMorgan Chase's LinkedIn channel, and HBCU Connect's Facebook page. More information, including a list of participating schools, is available on

"Every student graduating in the Class of 2020 deserves to celebrate this moment—they earned it, even more so during a challenging year for our country and the world," says Duckett. “We are showing up for them because we recognize they are our now and our future, and the way forward is full of opportunity."

The virtual commencement for HBCU students is the brainchild of Dr. Michael Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College (PQC) and a member of JPMorgan Chase's Advancing Black Pathways (ABP) Advisory Council. “As a result of COVID-19, our students have been robbed of a moment that they and their families have earned," he explains. “I am so grateful that this coalition of partners stepped up to answer the call of the HBCU community and stand in the gap for our students and their families."

The first HBCUs were founded before the Civil War, and these institutions educated generations of African Americans during a period when other colleges and universities would not. Today, they produce 50 percent of black lawyers and 80 percent of black judges1.

HBCUs also make an economic difference. According to UNCF, an HBCU graduate can expect to earn 56 percent more than they would without their HBCU degree or certificate. That works out to an average of $927,000 more in lifetime earnings per student.

"Historically black colleges and universities remain a critical resource in educating our young people and putting them on a path to lasting and rewarding careers," says Sekou Kaalund, the Head of ABP. "We are firmly committed to supporting HBCUs and helping them continue a tradition of excellence that has helped generations of black people achieve academic and professional success."

1. "Why America Needs Its HBCUs," The Atlantic 5/16/19 
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