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Akitunde Ahmad is no stranger to Black excellence. In fact, he embodies the very idea.

He was first highlighted by media in 2014 for graduating from his Oakland, Calif., high school with a 5.0 GPA, a 2100 SAT score and acceptances to Yale University, Brown University, and Columbia University. Now the recent graduate of Yale is inspiring other Black men to follow in his footsteps with his photo series, #BlackMenOfYaleUniversity.

Ahmad told Because of Them We Can that he launched the photo series last year when he realized he and his friends hardly had any photos showing what their campus life was like.


“I think for me growing up, I didn’t have anybody who looked like me, or anyone from Oakland back home, who went to an Ivy League school,” he said. “So I started the hashtag to put it into perspective with the bold statement of #BlackMenOfYaleUniversity.”


“A lot of my friends are athletes,” he continued. “All of our pictures dealt with football or basketball, but there were no pictures of us just being students.”

“It did start raising awareness that there are people who look like myself who are at these institutions doing well,” he said. “I know following up there was a #BlackMenAtCambridgeUniversity and some people at Harvard have done it too.”

Ahmad graduated this past May and will be attending Columbia University to earn his masters in journalism and documentary film. He hopes that his journey will encourage Black students to expand their options during their college application process.

You can check out more of the photos here.

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