This past Sunday, 67 African American young men took the Kaiser Center stage for the 2012 College Bound Brotherhood Graduation Celebration. This culminating event, hosted by the College Bound Brotherhood, a program of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, brought together family, friends, and community members to celebrate young brothas from across the Bay Area who are graduating from high school and matriculating to college.
The ceremony kicked-off with drumming, by Djialy Kunda Kouyate, descendants from a long line of griots, who are storytellers and historians in Senegal and Mali, West Africa. The rhythmic beating of the drums invoked a spirit of tradition among the audience and set the stage for an unforgettable rites of passage ceremony.
After an enthusiastic welcome from Cedric Brown, Kapor Foundation CEO, and myself, the Board of Directors, Mitchell Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein, Ph.D. addressed the graduates and emphasized the importance of pursuing higher education and how the future welfare of this country rests in their hands.
Charles Hudson, Venture Partner with SoftTech VC, was the evening’s keynote speaker. Mr. Hudson shared his personal story and how he came to work in the tech industry. A Stanford graduate from Detroit, Michigan, Mr. Hudson acknowledged that tech was not on his radar during his undergraduate education. However, as a result of getting good grades and building personal and professional relationships, Mr. Hudson was able to advance his career and pursue different interests. Mr. Hudson concluded with making a plea to all of the graduates: “There is a void of African Americans in tech. I encourage all of you to begin learning and exploring the various careers in tech and find your niche or carve one out for yourself.”
The recognition ceremony preceded Mr. Hudson. One by one, all 67 students took the stage and announced who they were, where they were from, and where they were attending college next fall. Mothers and fathers proudly cheered for their sons as they were each bestowed with a kente stole. In addition, all participating graduates received $100.00 stipends to help offset first semester expenses.
Again, I want to say congrats to all of the graduates for all of their hard work. Best of luck on your future endeavors. You make us proud! To see photos of the event please click here.
The Kapor Foundation would like to acknowledge Mechanics Bank and The California Endowment for their co-sponsorship .