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Black Teen Martin Folsom Perseveres Through Homelessness to the Top of His Class

In a time where Black people have so many threatening factors working against us, young people are still shining stars in academic excellence. According to ESSENCE , Jacksonville teen, Martin Folsom — a graduating senior from A. Philip Randolph Career Academies — successfully secured the title of class valedictorian despite battling homelessness through his school years. Graduating at the top of his class was no easy task, but Folsom saw it through proving there’s nothing that can stop determination. “It means a lot and it gives me a sense of all I’ve done and all I have accomplished was worth it,” Folsom said in a video addressing Duval County Public Schools’ class of 2020. “It’s been a rocky road, a lot of hardships. But seeing myself now about to graduate, about to go to college—it feels good knowing all the stuff I’ve done was worth it.” Folsom grew up living in shelters, but above it all, he was able to serve as class president from his freshman to senior year and his peers...

Njera Perkins

Jun 2, 2020

These Black Founders are Using Tech to Give Grads the Ceremony They Deserve

The global health crisis put a halt to many memorable school events that all graduating seniors look forward to. Above them all, in-person graduations have been canceled nationwide and left many graduates without a way to celebrate their accomplishments. To fill the void for graduates during this difficult time, these Black founders started Live Tassel to be the virtual solution for all commencement ceremonies. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, partners Cabral Clements and James Jackson teamed up to work on the creative production behind Live Tassel to create sufficient virtual graduation ceremonies that could still bring graduates joy. “Graduates should have the opportunity to feel special and recognized,” said Clements. “Not only did I see a need to help schools navigate virtual graduations using my media production skills, but I also needed to personally pivot as projects slowed due to COVID-19.” Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash Along with a small team of editors on staff,...

Njera Perkins

May 20, 2020

Oprah, Kevin Hart to Deliver Virtual Commencement Speeches for Class of 2020

Facebook and Instagram are giving Class of 2020 graduates the best gift: a virtual commencement featuring Oprah Winfrey. On May 15, the streaming giants will present “ #Graduation 2020: Facebook and Instagram Celebrate the Class of 2020 ,” a multi-hour virtual event set to live stream on both platforms. Along with Winfrey, Lil Nas X, Simone Biles, and more are scheduled to share encouraging words. The online ceremony is a part of a week-long program to celebrate high school seniors and college graduates. Kicking off on May 11, students can expect a digital party, custom filters, superlatives, grad-specific Music Stickers (cue “Graduation” by Vitamin C!), and messages from deans and principals across the country. Although the recent school shutdowns and graduation cancellations have put a damper on students’ final year, Facebook and Instagram hope to make it memorable. Beginning at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET, the star-studded commencement will be featured on Facebook Watch, the Facebook...

Niki McGloster

Apr 29, 2020