BLACK GRADUATION ZOOM KEYNOTE with Dr. Eileen Wilson- Oyelaran (POM ’69 and CGU ’77).

This event occurred Thurs May 14 2020 | 1-1:45pm PT and the recording appears below. 

This year’s keynote is dedicated to the life and work of Dr. Agnes Moreland Jackson (1930-2020) and the graduating class of 2020. Join us for an inspiring message from our 50th-anniversary alumni keynote, Dr. Wilson-Oyelaran. This year our virtual keynote was attended by 50 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members and we are grateful for your support in honoring the class of 2020.


                                      KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Dr. Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran 


Congratulation Videos from Claremont Colleges faculty and staff

Below are staff and faculty-submitted videos from our colleagues around The Claremont Colleges.

Vince Greer, Claremont McKenna College, Associate Dean of Students & Director of the CARE Center           

Eric Hurley, Pomona, Associate Professor of Psychology and Africana Studies

Pharalyn Crozier, Interim Director, Queer Resource Center of The Claremont Colleges

                                       Dean Avis Hinkson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Pomona College

                                       Amir Woods, Student Support Specialist, Claremont Graduate University Enrollment Services

                                       Jenn Wells, Assistant Dean of Students and Director, Scripps SCORE 

OBSA mailed 80 graduates their kente stoles, Black Graduation program and acknowledgment certificate in lieu of the in-person ceremony. Help the celebration continue and show us your stole! Join the #BLACKGRADCHALLENGE on Instagram.

Follow and tag @obsaclaremont in photos, stories and video, and join the IG challenge using #blackgradchallenge. OBSA will feature and highlight our graduates for a virtual class photo. Express yourself with your cap and gown, school gear, favorite outfit and more!



About our Keynote: Dr. Eileen B. Wilson Oyelaran (Pomona College, 1969; Claremont Graduate University, 1977)

Eileen B. Wilson-Oyelaran, President Emerita of Kalamazoo College, retired in July 2016 after serving eleven years as President. During her tenure she led the most successful fundraising campaign in the college’s history to
support scholarships, endowed professorships, capital projects, and the creation of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. President Wilson-Oyelaran greatly enhanced the representational diversity at Kalamazoo College, increasing the number of first generation, international, low-income, and domestic students of color. Working collectively with faculty and staff she led efforts to make Kalamazoo a more equitable and inclusive campus. A native of Los Angeles, Dr. Wilson-Oyelaran earned her B.A. in sociology from Pomona College. After graduation she was awarded the Thomas J. Watson Traveling Fellowship and conducted independent research in Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania. She completed her doctoral work in education at the Claremont Graduate University and began her academic career at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria (OAU), teaching in both the departments of education and psychology. OAU would be her academic home for 14 years. Dr. Wilson-Oyelaran has extensive higher education leadership experience having previously served as Vice President and Dean of the College at Salem College (North Carolina). Additionally, she has held teaching and high level administrative positions at Winston-Salem State University and North Carolina Wesleyan College. She currently serves as a Senior Consultant for the Association of Governing Boards (AGB). Her primary areas of scholarly interest are early child development and education in cultural context. Recognized for her expertise in the area of cultural diversity, Dr. Wilson-Oyelaran has worked with faculty in higher education and K-12 to improve educational outcomes for women and students from underrepresented groups.

Dr. Wilson-Oyelaran currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Pomona College where she chairs the Educational Quality Committee. Other service includes the Board of Trustees of United States International University Africa, the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and National Advisory Board of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. She is past chair of the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) Council of Presidents and the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).Prof Wilson-Oyelaran is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her work in higher education including honorary doctorates from Pomona College and Kalamazoo College, the Gender Equity Architect Award from the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, the Star Award from the Posse Foundation, and an American Council of Education Fellowship. In 1989 she was awarded the Visionary Leadership Award by the Intercollegiate Office of Black Studies for her leadership in the establishment of the Department of Black Studies at the Claremont Colleges. OBSA is delighted to welcome Dr. Wilson-Oyelaran as the 2020 Black Graduation Speaker due to her many distinctions and contributions to the field of higher education locally and globally, and we are excited for her to speak about some of her experiences at Pomona College during the founding of OBSA and IDAS.

Remembering Dr. Agnes Moreland Jackson (1930-2020)

The Annual Dr. Agnes Moreland Jackson Service awards recognize students, faculty and staff who have made a positive impact on the community. Students at all levels are nominated and recognized, so first years, sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students of all years are encouraged to attend to celebrate their peers. The awards are presented before the graduation ceremony and keynote address. Several categories are awarded based on nominations by community members. Although we are unable to provide awards this year, we dedicate our virtual keynote to her memory.

Dr. Jackson became the second Black full professor at the Claremont Colleges while continuing her involvement in civil, human and women’s rights. She also served as a community advocate for social and political justice. Retiring in 1997 after 28 years of service, Dr. Jackson remained a prominent fixture in the Claremont and Pomona communities as a charter member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Pomona Valley Alumnae Chapter, Pomona Unified School District Trustee.

On the morning of April 8th, 2020 Dr. Jackson peacefully passed away at the age of 89 after a lengthy illness. Born on December 2, 1930 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Agnes Moreland grew up with a love of history and the knack for storytelling. Agnes cared about others and believed that life was full of “acts of love” to be an example of how to treat people. Understanding the value of education, California offered a new life where Agnes attended University of Redlands graduating with a BA in 1952.

She would eventually obtain an MA from the University of Washington in 1953 and eventually a PhD from Columbia University in 1960. Dr. Jackson would go on to teach at Spellman College, Boston University, and Cal State L.A. In 1964 Dr. Agnes married Harold Andrew Jackson Jr. with whom she’d spend 56 years of love and partnership until his death on January 25, 2020. Dr. Agnes believed in respecting others, kind acts of love, and spending quality time having meaning conversations to develop long lasting relationships. Known for being blunt, people loved her ability to be honest and truthful and whatever she expected from others, is what she gave of herself.

Having a host of well-known influential friends and acquaintances such as renowned choreographer Alvin Ailey, and civil rights attorney, John Payton who was also a fellow Claremont College alum. Dr. Jackson leaves behind a legacy at the Claremont Colleges of professionalism, activism, and an enriched life full of experiences that will continue to inspire those that she leaves behind; Darius Moreland (brother), chosen daughters; Barbara Ruth Arnwine, Esq., Dr. Lucretia Peebles and Margaret Smith; chosen son Dr. Melvin Merrill; and goddaughters Ashley (Barbee) Eddington and Nancy Norman.

Dr. Jackson was one of many key figures contributing to the establishment of Black Studies and Women’s Studies at The Claremont Colleges.

Source: Margaret Smith

What is Black Graduation?

OBSA hosts the annual Dr. Agnes Moreland Jackson Service Awards and Black Graduation together to commemorate the many contributions of students, faculty and staff and to celebrate students obtaining degrees from each of The Claremont Colleges (both the graduate and undergraduate institutions). The order of events for the day traditionally includes the OBSA Dean’s welcome address, the singing of the Black National Anthem, followed by the service awards, the alumni keynote, the graduation ceremony and the closing lunch reception. Claremont Colleges Black faculty and staff are invited to wear their regalia and register to be seated onstage to cheer on and support students during the ceremony.

During the ceremony, each graduate is welcome to make a brief speech to acknowledge those who supported them in their journey. The Dr. Agnes Moreland Jackson Service Awards and Black Graduation occurs on the Friday before graduation, so that graduates, their friends and family and the community at large can attend. It does NOT serve to replace each of the colleges’ graduation ceremonies, and students are encouraged to attend both Black Graduation and their college’s event. Degrees are not conferred at Black Graduation; however all graduates receive a congratulatory certificate from OBSA signed by the Dean and Assistant Dean.

Following the tradition of hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States, Black Graduation is a unifying, community centered event that provides a sense of belonging, particularly for students of African descent attending colleges where they are few in number. Black Graduation offers space for students and their families to express joy freely and in the spirit of love, inclusion and acknowledgment.