Nationwide — Meet A.J. Koto, founder and CEO of Graduation-Stoles.com, a leading supplier of graduation Kente stoles to high schools and universities across the country. Class of 2023 graduations will soon be upon us, and a growing number of graduates of African descent will be seen wearing these colorful handwoven Kente stoles imported from Ghana to celebrate their big day.
Akoto’s company has forged a way for Black graduates to stand out amidst the sea of black caps and gowns. According to a recent report in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the nationwide college graduation rate for Black students stands at 42%. This figure is 20% below the 62% rate for white students. Every step along the Black graduate’s purposeful journey is a milestone, and graduation is a time to celebrate completion in a monumental way.
Akoto comments, “The original idea of adorning Kente stoles at graduation ceremonies was for graduates of African descent to express their uniqueness, by highlighting their heritage with pride and dignity.”
However, based on feedback from past graduates and educators, Akoto believes the time has come to blend the cultural and historic significance of the Kente stole with the modern-day representation of how black graduates overcome their struggles and experiences at various academic institutions.
Graduation-Stoles.com is seizing the moment of the present, and honoring the foundation of the past, by introducing “Black Graduates Matter” patches, to brand graduation Kente stoles. Patches can be ironed or sewn on the Kente stoles as an added embellishment of this finely crafted fabric. The elements in the patch design are commemorative of Black resilience, from the map of Africa to the Black Power clenched fist salute. All indicate a people steeped in tenacity.
Considering graduation is a family affair, the website is giving away free beautifully designed “Black Graduates Matter” buttons with Kente stoles purchased off its website. The intent is for graduates to pin the buttons on parents or loved ones on graduation day. This gives every family member a chance to make a statement, while graduates display their patches on their Kente stoles.
For more details and/or to make a purchase, visit the official website at Graduation-Stoles.com