THE GRADUATES” is a depiction of the African American experience starting from our being
Kings and Queens of Africa to the present day struggles in America.  The
S on the end of
S is enlarged to show the inclusion and gratitude of all who fought and died  to
make graduating a possibility.  Their sacrifices have left eternal fingerprints on the success of
all graduates.  Noone succeeds alone.  All who paved the way, graduate with you & they
succeed when you succeed.  Their fingerprints on the diploma shows that our ancestors have
left their mark on completing your goal.
 The curtain shows the following pictorial view of
African American History to present day events:

We began as Kings & Queens of Africa; 1619 - the first enslaved Africans were taken to North
America through the middle passage; Harriet Tubman “Moses”- the conductor of the
underground railroad leading slaves to freedom; 3/5 Compromise – which stated that 3 out of
5 slaves were counted as people (not humans). Counting slaves as people increased the
population which in turn increased the power to have more legislatures in the South than in
the North, giving the South more power in the House of Representatives to dictate law; Martin
Luther King, Jr. Lead the Civil Rights Movement; Emmett Till – brutally murdered by racist
white men who accused 14 year old Emmett of whistling at a white woman; 16th Street Baptist
Church Bombing – killed 4 little Black girls; Rosa Parks, sitting for justice; Tommy Smith,
John Carlos -  during the award ceremony of the 1968 Olympics, raised their gloved fist during
the star spangled banner. The demonstration is regarded as one of the most overtly political
statements in the history of the modern Olympics; Strange Fruit (lynching), Bloody Sunday
(Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Al); the greenbook created by Victor Hugo Green was an
annual guidebook from 1936-1966 made for African Americans "Negros" who traveled to
know what hotels & diners they were welcomed at.  Columbine Shooting; President #43,
George W. Bush; smoke from the Twin Towers from 911; Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans;
President #44, Barak H. Obama; Obamacare; Sandy Hook Shooting; Charleston, S.C.
Shooting; Black Lives Matter Movement (Travon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, etc.); Unjust
laws - Stand Your Ground, Stop and Frisk; President #45, Donald Trump; Parkland Shooting;
Me Too Movement; Immigrant Children taken from their parents; Media attack – Fake News;
Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico; Russian Election Interference; Meghan, Duchess of Sussex –
We’ve come full circle back to royalty, But, we can’t allow This cycle to repeat itself!  

All graduates have a responsibility to build on the sacrifices and pain of our ancestors so that
their struggle is not in vain. I celebrate all graduates from kindergarten to post graduate
school as well as GED, Cosmetology, Barber school, etc.  and I humbly honor those who
paved the way.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, Nelson

                                                       “THE GRADUATE
                                                     Artist: Daniel L. Hodges
20" x 30"