Trinity Holds Inclusive Commencement Ceremonies | Trinity University
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Trinity Holds Inclusive Commencement Ceremonies

Tuesday, May 21, 2019
students with families at de colores and kente ceremonies

University recognizes nearly 80 students in Latina/o, Black, and LGBTQ+ communities

by Molly Mohr Bruni

Before graduating on May 18 with 450 other undergraduates, students from Trinity’s Latina/o, Black, and LGBTQ+ communities gathered in smaller ceremonies that honor their cultures and identities.

De Colores Ceremony

group picture of de colores students

In just its second year of existence, Trinity’s De Colores ceremony honored 47 students—almost double the number from last year—from the Latina/o community. Seniors invited their families, friends, and countless members of the Trinity community who have supported them throughout their time at the University. Each student chose a loved one to present them with a colorful stole.

“The colors on the stoles represent the many colors of the Latino people, the many areas we come from, and languages we speak,” said Janet Muñoz ’18 when describing the ceremony last year. “As minorities, we are always being fragmented and divided—by race, income, education, even body type—but this ceremony is a way for us to be united.”

View photos of the 2019 De Colores ceremony.

Lavender Ceremony

student carrying born this way banner on campus

Led by the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Trinity established a new ceremony this year to recognize graduating members of the LGBTQ+ community. The University became one of hundreds of colleges across the nation to participate in this tradition.

“What makes the Lavender ceremony unique is that it is often celebrated alongside a graduate's chosen family—those friends, family, faculty, and staff who were integral parts in the educational journey,” says Alli Roman, director for Diversity and Inclusion. “Some students in the LGBTQ+ community may not be out to their family, so chosen families often become those lifelines for them.”

Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian, designed the first ceremony in 1995 with the University of Michigan after she was not allowed to attend her children’s graduations because of her sexual orientation. The lavender color is significant to the LGBTQ+ community, combining the colors pink and black. In Nazi Germany, pink triangles on clothing marked gay men in concentration camps, while black triangles designated lesbians as political prisoners. The LGBTQ+ civil rights movement turned these symbols of oppression and hate into a representation of pride and community.

At Trinity, 15 students were part of the inaugural ceremony, receiving lavender cords to wear at commencement.

Kente Ceremony

group picture from kente ceremony

Throughout history, ancient kings and queens were draped with colorful “Kente” cloths, named for the iconic colors of the Akan ethnic group from south Ghana; last week, 17 Trinity students were bestowed these stoles as their time at Trinity closed. For the fourth year in a row, Black seniors gathered together to be honored by families and friends. One by one, each senior was introduced by another honoree, with introductions that explained the students’ proudest moments and accomplishments on campus.

“Traditionally, I think a lot of times in Black and African culture, you’ll see large family gatherings to honor accomplishments like this—like graduating—and that’s kind of the root of the tradition,” Khaniya Russell ’19 has said, who organized the ceremony last year.

View photos of the 2019 Kente ceremony.

Molly Mohr Bruni is the managing editor for Trinity's Department of Strategic Communications and Marketing. Reach her at mmohr [at] trinity.edu.