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National Black Grads Hosts Grad Night at LA County Fair

By Manny Otiko | IVN

Upland, CA – Inland Empire Black high school graduates will be honored as part of National Black Grad (NBG) Night at the LA County Fair. The event will be held on Sunday, May 21, from 4-6 p.m.

The event is a continuation of the celebration of Black high school students graduating and continuing their education journey, according to National Black Grad’s Co-Founder Jonathan Buffong. He recently staged the Inland Empire High School Black Graduation Recognition Ceremony at Cal State, San Bernardino.

The LA County Fair event will feature several activities such as a fashion show, a shadow box competition, games, a live DJ and prizes will be awarded such as laptops. Students will also be able to network with successful individuals at the event who can be future role models.

Lawrence Hardy, one of the organizers, said that the goals to celebrate and encourage African American students to pursue academic excellence. These are two issues that he is passionate about, he said.

Motivating African-American students is a major goal of the event. Buffong said that it’s important to show African-American students what their people can achieve. He recently took a group of IE high school students to Mission Bay Resort in San Diego on a motivational trip. ” Our ultimate goal is to get our kids inspired,” he said.

Dr. Alise Clouser, NBG’s Vice President of Student Engagement, said the event is a way of showing Black students that this is just the beginning of the academic journey. Clouser said she also wants to make graduating high school a succeeding academically “cool” in the Black community.

“Iwant them (Black grads) to walk away with a sense of pride and what they have accomplished,” she said.

According to data gathered from the U.S. 2020 census, about 88% of Black students graduate from high school, which is 2% below the national figure.

However, African American students are catching up. “In the last 50 years, both the Black and national average high school dropout rates declined rapidly and college enrollment increased steadily. The once significant difference in the high school dropout rate between the Black population and national average is no longer,” according to a U.S. Census Bureau article. “The national average dropout rate declined from 19% in 1968 to about 6% in 2018. The Black dropout rate fell more steeply from 33% to 5%, bringing it in linen with the national average.”

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