Harvard University will hold a graduation ceremony exclusively for its black student population on 23 May.
More than 170 students and 530 guests have signed up to attend the Black Commencement event, the first university wide ceremony for black students.
The organisers say that the event is a celebration of "fellowship" rather than "segregation" and highlights the unique achievements of black students at an institution that has grappled with its historic ties to slavery.
Michael Huggins, a student who will receive a master's degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School at the end of this month, told The Root that the ceremony is "an opportunity to celebrate Harvard's black excellence and black brilliance."
He stressed that the event is not about segregation but about "building a community."
"This is a chance to reaffirm for each other that we enter the work world with. We are all partners," he said.
The ceremony will include speeches from students about their experiences at Harvard and musical performances. All graduates will receive a shawl made of kente cloth, a representation of their African heritage, which they will wear over their graduation robes.
In 2015, only 5% of the 7,595 Harvard degrees went to black students. Jillian Simons, incoming chair of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance, told The Boston Globe that the ceremony is a time to celebrate the success but also to reflect on the past.