by Wynona Mobley --

(Editor's note: We shared another family's story about the Kente ceremony in last week's Parent Perspective. Learn more about this mom's "extensive research.")

Trinity always had my vote during the college process. Like most mothers, I did my research – extensive research – and was pleased with what I found. A university that would challenge, encourage, and prepare my daughter for her greatest successes. But what about diversity? While the statistics I found may not have been exactly what I hoped, I understood the reality. I trusted that the low representation of diversity would be relative in relation to the overall population. I hoped.

This hope quickly turned into a confident reality. From the strength of the Black Student Union to the frequency of Diversity Dialogues, Taylor’s comfort in regard to diversity on campus eased my mind and reiterated my initial belief that Trinity was the right decision for her college experience. Each story, each experience, each moment Taylor shared with me touched my heart, but there was one moment that meant the most to me. It was the first annual Kente ceremony that took place the week of her graduation.

When Taylor initially told me that some of her fellow seniors were planning Trinity’s first Kente ceremony, I was skeptical. The Kente ceremony is a rich tradition on most campuses that recognizes African-American seniors for the successes and achievements that led them to graduation. The term Kente comes from the cloth design on the stole that is worn by graduates to act as a visual representation for reaching this milestone. The ceremony is intimate and a family member “dons” the graduate with a beautiful stole. My skepticism did not come from doubts that the students could plan an appropriate ceremony, but rather from a fear of how the university would receive it. To hold dialogues and meetings is one thing, but to support the first Kente ceremony, clearly specific to one racial group, is not only a risk but could be taken the wrong way. I am pleased to say, however, that my doubts went away the minute I arrived.

James, Taylor, and Wynona Mobley at the 2016 Kente ceremony. 
The ceremony exceeded my expectations. As I watched the event unfold, I did not feel as if I was witnessing the first Kente ceremony at Trinity, but rather one that carried on a preceding tradition. It was a proud moment to see a group of young men and women, many of whom I have witnessed grow over their college career, start a legacy that will carry on long after they are gone. Each student introduced the next recipient and invited their family member to don them with the Kente cloth. To see young students of color sing each other’s praises was a moment I won’t soon forget. The bond between them was unbreakable which suggests the environment that fostered their relationships over the past four years was a healthy one.

As an illustration of the University’s inclusiveness, the audience at the ceremony said it all. Attending were the president, the dean of students, and even coordinators of Residential Life. For them to support this ceremony put on by the Black Student Union, Black Male Leadership Initiative, and African Student Association speaks volumes of Trinity and its core values. It was in this moment that I felt my research four years ago was not only true, but it was exemplified right before my eyes. Trinity is forever growing, innovating and trying to be better. Not just academically but socially and, in the midst of it all, I believe diversity is at the forefront of the change. Trinity could have rejected this idea when it was brought to the table, but instead, it was welcomed, supported and well attended.

I am proud of my daughter for being part of this inaugural ceremony at Trinity, but I know this group of students won’t be the last group to take risks and test the limits. Whatever the situation may be, I believe Trinity will be there to offer the same support I witnessed throughout Taylor’s college career. Therefore, if you’re doing extensive research, like I was, and you’re hesitant when it comes to the diversity category, trust that Trinity will make your child feel included and valued, no matter what the statistic says.

About Wynona

Wynona and James Mobley are the parents of Taylor Mobley ’16, who was active in the Admissions Office as a Distinguished Representative, tour guide, and Admissions intern while working with Tiger TV and as a resident assistant.


(Editor's note: In observance of Black History Month, we are sharing a story about Trinity's first Kente ceremony sponsored by the Black Student Union. We will share another family's story next week.)

by Frederick M. Woods --

Kente cloth, known as Nwentoma (woven cloth) in the Ashanti language of Ghana, is a sacred colorful silk cloth worn only in times of extreme importance. The Trinity University Black Student Union (BSU) deemed, as did their parents, that graduation from college is a time of extreme importance. Therefore, to memorialize it in an African tradition warranted the wearing of Kente cloth.

So on May 13, 2016, in a separate pre-graduation ceremony attended by the graduating black students, their family, friends and Trinity University President Danny Anderson, the BSU held its "First Annual Donning of the Kente Ceremony" in Parker Chapel on the Trinity campus. My daughter, Bria M. Woods, a 2016 Trinity graduate, made sure that she and her parents attended.

Celebrating with Bria Woods '16 after the Kente ceremony is her brother Mike and parents Rhonda and Fred Woods.
As her father, it was a high honor to place the beautifully designed Kente cloth around my daughter’s neck following a reading of her bio by one of her graduating peers. It was equally an honor to listen to the bios read about of all the other graduates.

After donning their Kente cloth, there was endless picture taking and heart warming fellowship and bonding with all of the graduates and their families in the picturesque Chapel Meditation Garden. There, the graduates and their families shared stories of times past along with plans and dreams for their future.

It was an outstanding ceremony and should remain a Trinity pre-graduation ceremonial tradition. To BSU members, asante sana, which in Swahili means thank you very much.


About Frederick

Frederick E. Woods is the father of Bria M. Woods '16, who graduated with majors in communication and film studies.