The Legacy Continues

Donning of the Kente

Started in 2012, the Donning of the Kente serves as a rite of passage for students of color as they graduate from William & Mary. The Kente cloth is of Ghanian origin, and its use as an academic stole celebrates each graduate’s unique background and legacy. Graduates are “donned” by a family member, mentor, or friend of their choosing. As a whole, the ceremony serves to remind graduates that their ties to the university do not end at graduation. William & Mary will always remain their home.

At the inaugural Donning of the Kente ceremony in 2012, Dr. Carroll Hardy was donned by William & Mary alumnus, former BSO president, former HWA president, and current Associate Vice President for Development, Earl T Granger, III.

The Hulon Willis Association

Dr. Carroll Hardy’s focus was not just on supporting incoming students, but also alumni. In 1992, she helped found the Hulon Willis Association, the alumni association for William & Mary’s African American alumni. Named after William & Mary’s first African American student, the Hulon Willis Association not only serves as a community for alumni but also a support system for enrolled students. The HWA created the Hulon Willis Sr. Memorial Scholarship Endowment to support underrepresented students and co-sponsors the Donning of the Kente Ceremony every spring.

The Lemon Project & Robert Engs

When the Board of Visitors acknowledged William & Mary’s complicity in slavery, secession, and segregation in 2009, they also approved the creation of the Lemon Project: A Journey of Reconciliation. Lemon was among the many enslaved blacks owned by William & Mary throughout the 18th century.The name was proposed by the late Dr. Robert Engs, who served as founding researcher and consulting scholar for the Lemon Project. Led by Project Director and Visiting History Professor, Jody L. Allen, the Lemon Project describes itself as a program that “will focus on contributing to and encouraging scholarship on the 300-year relationship between African Americans and the College, and building bridges between the College and Williamsburg and Greater Tidewater area.” The Lemon Project hosts an annual research symposium focusing on past African American experiences, offers a Gaither-Johnson Summer Research Fellowship for underrepresented students, and serves as a co-sponsor for the Donning of the Kente Ceremony.