When Skye Lorren-Warren graduated from Spelman College this month, she gave all the praise to her mother, sharing in a post on Facebook: “If it were not for my mother, I wouldn’t be here.”
In a now-viral video, viewers watch Skye — proudly donning her cap and gown — walk as quickly as she can in her heels into the arms of her mother, before the two break down into tears, whispering to one another, and rocking back and forth. Their unfiltered joy is perfectly captured in the clip, which has since gained over 25,000 views and been liked over 9,000 times.
But there’s a reason why their story has resonated with so many. In the post caption, which was shared by the Facebook page Because of Them We Can, Skye recalls the day her mother Bonnie took her on a tour of Spelman back in 2012, and says she’ll never forget what she told her:
“After our tour at Spelman during Fall 2012, you sat me down on the bench outside of Cosby and said, ‘Kiddo, this is it. This is where you need to be. As an Irish American woman I could only raise you to be a strong woman but society sees you as far more than that. Society needs to see you as the strong black woman you are destined to be. I couldn’t provide that for you, but Spelman can. This is where I need you to be.’”
According to U.S. News and World Report, Spelman is ranked as the #1 HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). It’s also the alma mater of many noteworthy black scholars. Alice Walker — the novelist and poet best known for writing The Color Purple — attended Spelman. So did Audrey F. Manley, the former surgeon general of the United States, and Major General Marcelite J. Harris, the first African-American female general of the U.S. Air Force.
So when Skye walked the halls of Spelman as a young black woman, looking to make her mark on the world, the significance of one day attending the school was not lost on her. Nor was it lost on her white mother.
“I looked at you in awe of the fact that you could even say something of so much power and I knew that I needed to make this happen,” wrote Skye. “I doubted myself, I didn’t think that I could get into Spelman because it was a school of such high prestige. I didn’t think I was worthy enough to be a ‘Spelman Woman’ or that I could keep up with the Black Excellence I yearned to be a part of. I prayed and prayed for this dream to turn to reality.”
As the white mother of four African-American children myself, I love how authentic Bonnie was with her daughter when she encouraged Skye to apply to Spelman. Of course, a parent’s love is an important foundation in any child’s life, but children of color need to be empowered and educated by those who share their race, where cultural norms, history, and vernacular can be fostered. Bonnie recognized that she couldn’t meet all of her daughter’s needs and wanted Skye to seek opportunities to become her best.
The opportunity clearly paid off.
“And here we are, 4 years later and I’m graduating from THE Illustrious, Spelman College, Cum Laude,” reports Skye. “This dream came true … this is my reality.”
Congrats to Skye and the strong, insightful mother who stood by her side!