Kente and De Colores ceremonies celebrate honor, community, and connections for Black and Latino Tigers
by Jeremy Gerlach
Black, green, red, yellow, and purple: These are iconic colors of the Akan ethnic group from south Ghana, draped through woven cloths called “Kente” stoles and bestowed throughout history on ancient kings and queens.
At Trinity, Khaniya Russell ’19 and the Black Student Union have given the Kente cloth a place of equal joy: an annual graduation ceremony where seniors are honored by their peers in front of their families and friends and are each conferred with a unique stole.
“This symbolizes the honor they’re receiving by going through commencement,” says Russell, who organized the ceremony. “It’s a ceremony that comes from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and it’s so important to us that we’ve turned this into an annual event at Trinity, too.”
At the event, loved ones and family members bestow their graduates with the graduation stoles. One by one, each honored individual is introduced by another chosen honoree. These introductions break down the degree, organizations, and roles each member has played during their four years on campus. Students also explain their proudest moments and accomplishments at Trinity.
Trinity’s De Colores ceremony is another opportunity for students to reflect on their proudest moments at Trinity while celebrating their culture.
At De Colores—a unique celebration of Trinity’s graduating Latina/o seniors that takes its name from the Spanish term for “in colors”—24 Tigers, including Janett Muñoz ’18, headed to Trinity’s Parker Chapel. Seniors invited their families, friends, and countless members of the Trinity community who’ve supported them in school, and each selected a loved one to present them with a colorful stole in honor of their graduation.
“The colors on the stoles represent the many colors of the Latino people, the many areas we come from and languages we speak,” Muñoz says. “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.”