In May of 1971 Dr. Charles Terrell graduated from the Master’s Program in African American Studies. Over forty years later, on May 18, he returned to AFAM to deliver the commencement address to the 2013 graduating class. As he addressed this year’s graduates, Richard Bailey, Shakora Fernandez, Naeemah Kitchens, and Shelby Walton, Dr. Terrell reminded the students of the value in both the journey and the accomplishment of receiving a Master’s degree in African American Studies. He also offered warm words of gratitude to program founder, Dr. Adelaide Cromwell who was in attendance at the event.

Each year the Program holds the African American Studies Alumni and Friends Essay Competition in recognition of the best graduate and undergraduate essays on the topic of African American Studies. This year Prof. Mary Anne Boelcskevy awarded the winners, Kesia Ryan-Webster (CAS BA’14) and Shelby Walton (GRS MA’13) with prizes for their outstanding essays. As Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Boelcskevy also presented the African American Studies Program’s minors, Ashley Lisenby, Hannah Sager,and Kiera Vinson, with a gift and congratulations on a job well done.

Vocalist Melissa Hall’s renditions of , “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” were well received. Prof. Allison Blakely, AFAM Program Director, presided over the ceremony, and Prof. John Thornton presented the proud students with their diplomas, and family members took photos of the smiling graduates. The ceremony concluded with a reception held by the African American Studies Department where the faculty, students, and their families mingled and expressed their congratulations to our four graduates.

The program for this year’s commencement can be found HERE.

Congratulations graduates!


(From left to right) Richard Bailey, Naeemah Kitchens, Shakora Fernandez, and Shelby Walton
From left to right: Richard Bailey, Naeemah Kitchens, Shakora Fernandez, and Shelby Walton