The Bestowing of the Kente has been revived at Alverno College and will take place May 19 at 4 p.m. in the college’s Wehr Auditorium immediately following the Alverno undergraduate graduation ceremony. During the ceremony African American women graduates receive African Kente clothes from the people who gave significant support to their journey toward graduation.
After several years of not having the ceremony, it was revived by the Cultural Education Center following the December 2011 graduation. The first ceremony was held in December of 1994 at the urging of Sherlyn Brown and Caryl Davis who were seeking some way of marking the occasion of graduation special by honoring their unique history and heritage as African American women. The two women received the support of Austin Doherty and Dawn Balistreri in their endeavor.
The Alverno ceremony was crafted by Karron Caulker who ran the Multicultural office at the time. The Kente cloth of the Ashanti/Asante of Ghana is a woven cloth with special symbols, colors and designs that tell the world something about the person who is wearing the cloth.
Depending on the region, it is usually reserved for royalty, high officials, people of high social status and/or great wealth, or someone who has done something outstanding or received a high honor.
For African American women graduates, the Kente ceremony exemplifies the characteristics of resourcefulness, improvement, endurance, perseverance and achievement.
The Kente symbolizes the women’s rite of passage and celebrates their graduation. The May 2012 recipients are: Melissa Howard, Lindsay Jefferson, Angela Lewis, Cheryl Means, Juliet Nakayiza, Azuree Nichols, Michelle Smith, Niesha Spencer, Leah-Taylor Gross and Cimesha Williams.