By Taryn Finley

Huffington Post Black Voices

(Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Black students at Harvard University are getting their kente cloth stoles ready for a special graduation ceremony: an all-black commencement.

Two days before the general university graduation, black students will celebrate the obstacles they’ve overcome and the accomplishments they’ve made despite racial issues they face at their Ivy League. More than 170 students and 530 guests have confirmed their attendance to the May 23 celebration, according to The Boston Globe.

Though black students have held separate graduations at predominantly white institutions before, Black Commencement 2017 will be Harvard’s first university-wide graduation ceremony honoring students of the African diaspora. Student organizers raised more than $27,000 to pay for the ceremony and reception. Though this year’s celebration includes mostly graduate students, organizers hope to expand the event to include undergraduates next year.

At a time when students are pressuring Harvard to reckon with its role in slavery and address current racial issues on campus, they see a separate ceremony as a way to reaffirm and uplift their community.

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