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A Different Kind of Hoodie: UW Alumni Celebrate Masters’ Degrees with #BlackAndHooded, It Goes Viral


In the midst of graduation season two University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni created a hashtag and a movement to celebrate and give a safe space especially to Black graduate students.

Anthony Wright and Brian Allen started the hashtag #BlackandHooded to increase the visibility of Black students in higher education and create network.

“Representation is huge,” said Wright, who just earned his masters in higher education from Indiana University and has recently returned to Madison to serve as a career counselor for the UW-Madison School of Business. “A lot of black students have aspirations to go to graduate school but no one to look up to, talk to about their journey, connect with about their specific degree and university. The hashtag allows for Black graduates across the nation and world to serve as that connection and that opportunity for Black undergraduates  to see people like them pursuing their post-bachelor’s degrees.”

“Personally, when I first even thought about applying for graduate school I really didn’t understand what it was about,” said Allen, who just earned his masters in higher education from Columbia University. “I didn’t have many mentors or folks who I could reach out to who were in graduate school at the time and so even at the start of my process I think that lack of representation really limited my scope of knowledge around what a postsecondary education degree meant.”

The hashtag is also meant to combat stereotypes about Black representation and achievement.

“Imagery of Black people in hoods has been seen in a negative light,” said Wright. “What I wanted to do with the ‘hood’ concept is provide an opportunity to redefine what it means to be Black and wearing a hood.”

Students earning master’s degrees traditionally don hoods at their graduation ceremony, in addition to traditional commencement robes and stoles.

“I feel that the juxtaposition of graduation hoods and being from the ‘hood speaks to the idea that the duality of the Black academic experience is very real and legitimate and no one should think they are incapable of achieving because of where they are from or the circumstances that push them to strive for success,” added Allen.

The hashtag has since taken off with hundreds of graduates posting images along with the hashtag. The pair have created a website featuring over 200 images of Black graduate and professional students.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Wright said. “I think the hashtag has opened up some doors for more networking to occur between graduate students and undergrads as well”

Wright is now turning the hashtag into a network and is in the process of creating a directory for participants.

“We would like to make the campaign more of a resource,” said Wright.

He plans to collect contact information for graduates that can be searched by program, institution, location, etc that potential students can assess for questions and mentorship.

“I’m very excited to see how it continues to grow and hopefully it inspires folk to go out and accomplish everything that their heart desires, despite how society tries to limit and restrict us,” said Allen.