Coronavirus in Texas: Paul Quinn College helps organize virtual graduation for students at historically black colleges

Fred Alexander walks through the line at Souper Salad in El Paso, which recently reopened with limited capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Co (Texas Tribune)

Wednesday’s biggest developments

  • Paul Quinn president to speak at HBCU virtual graduation ceremony

Paul Quinn College helps to organize HBCU virtual graduation

[5 a.m.] A national commencement celebration for historically black colleges and universities will be livestreamed this weekend and will include speakers such as former President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell, who helped organize the event, according to media reports.

The musical guests and speakers also include Kevin Hart and Wyclef Jean. Chase will stream the two-hour virtual event, which lists Paul Quinn College and Howard University among the members of its steering committee, on Twitter and YouTube at 1 p.m. Central time Saturday.

Sorrell promoted the event Tuesday evening on Twitter, saying it — and a virtual Sunday cookout organized by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Paul Quinn College and the United Negro College Fund — would be “fire.”

The virtual commencement comes as university budgets have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with some experts forecasting historically black colleges and universities could be particularly impacted. Across the country, students have returned home, and most in-person graduation ceremonies have been canceled or postponed.

In a March commentary for The Dallas Morning News, Sorrell said that he understood why Paul Quinn students were devastated by the loss of an in-person graduation, saying, “I get why they are struggling. … It all comes back to the trauma that’s permeated many of their lives for so many years.”

An attorney and education scholar, Sorrell started at Paul Quinn in 2007. He has tried to make the school an urban work college, where students have jobs and their professional performance is incorporated into their academic studies. — Shannon Najmabadi

Texas reports 41,048 cases and 1,133 deaths

[5 a.m.] Texas officials are expected to announce the latest number of coronavirus cases Wednesday afternoon. At least 41,048 people in Texas had tested positive and 1,133 had died, as of Tuesday. See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents. — Carla Astudillo