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Cheyney University’s Inaugural Kente Ceremony

May 14, 2023 12:00PM ● By Karen Warrington

Just days before its 2023 commencement Cheyney University of Pennsylvania held its inaugural Kente Ceremony Program. 

Addressing the soon-to-be graduates Cheyney President Aaron A. Walton said, “The ceremony represents and acknowledges the accomplishments you have achieved in America’s first HBCU, and legacy institution.”

In 2017, the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education adopted the creation of the Cheyney University Institute for the Contemporary African American Experience. 

The Institute is designed to concentrate on the study and impact of contemporary American race, ethnicity, and diversity issues and the impact on local, national, and international communities.

 The Kente Ceremony is an extension of the Institute‘s mission and represents “the reclaiming of Cheney’s heritage” and the tradition of Sankofa. 

A principle of the Akan people of Ghana, Sankofa, believes that “One should remember the past to make positive progress in the future.” 

Cheyney University administrators explain, “As Cheyney University re-imagines her future, let it be known that she is committed to utilizing and calling upon the best aspects of its illustrious past in answering the challenge of building a great institution for its students.”


The Kente ceremony included libation and praise of ancestors offered by Julani Ghana, Cheyney’s director of admissions. 

And the charge to the graduates was presented by Interim Provost Dr. Sharon Gramby-Sobukwe. 

She stressed that the graduates should understand the importance of their ancestral heritage and the legacy of Cheyney as they boldly step into the world and future accomplishments. 

President Walton capped off the ceremony, presenting each graduate with a Kente woven stole and a congratulatory handshake, all accompanied by traditional African drumming. 

Before being embraced by the African diaspora as a symbol of unity and cultural heritage, Kente cloth was worn exclusively by Akan royalty.

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 Karen Warrington has had a decades long career as a broadcast journalist, communications professional, performing artist, and documentary filmmaker. She has traveled extensively throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. She is committed to being a voice for the African Diaspora.

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