You know how black folks are at a graduation ceremony: we want to celebrate. The announcer usually says, “Please hold all applause until the end.” But then Black families usually give the look like this:
It’s one thing for one person to graduate, but what happens when you have five people in one family graduate? That really calls for a celebration!
And what a celebration it will be for LaWanda Flennoy and her family this month! The grandmother’s two older daughters graduated from college this month, her youngest finished high school and her granddaughter graduated from kindergarten. But the Flennoy was also celebrating her own college graduation too!
Photographer Darryl Hammond captured the three generations of graduates together in the photo above.
“The photo makes me feel proud, for a couple of reasons,” Flennoy told HuffPost. “First, that I have been a role model for these ladies and second, that they have set out and accomplished their goals. Graduating was not an easy task for any of us, as we’ve all had setbacks and feelings of uncertainty. But this year, we’ve conquered them all.”
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All of the ladies’ hard work has paid off. Flennoy’s daughter Amari graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in industrial engineering and has accepted a position with Ford Motor Company. Her daughter Paris graduated from Chicago State University with a degree in public relations and will go on to work for Apple.
After high school graduation, her daughter Jade will attend Illinois State University to study criminal justice, and her granddaughter Brooklyn is a proud kindergarten graduate.
Flennoy said Paris was the original mastermind behind the graduation photo shoot and insisted she take part in some photos. The grandmother is set to graduate from South Suburban College with a degree in psychology later this month.
She said looking at the group picture makes her feel great. “These ladies are awesome, and I’m so proud of them!”
The photo appeared on Facebook and quickly went viral with thousands of likes, shares and comments.
“I have always taught my girls that they can be whatever they want to be. A solid education and
unwavering belief in themselves are great foundations for success,” Flennoy told HuffPost. “I hope people realize that with determination, focus and a good support system, anyone can meet their potential.”
Hammond said he hopes people are inspired by the group photo.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for one person to graduate, let alone five total AND three generations,” he explained. “I want parents to encourage their kids to stay in school, continue their education and never give up WHILE doing the same thing. Everyone loved this photo; I want everyone to see this photo and say, ‘This photo is an inspiration; this is a beautiful family.’”
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Flennoy will graduate with her associate’s degree from South Suburban College, daughter Paris graduated from Chicago State University with a degree in public relations and daughter Amari graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Daughter Jade, who graduates high school this year, plans to attend Illinois State University.
Way to go family