'Black-ish' Star Yara Shahidi to Join Malia Obama at Harvard

Shahidi has decided to attend former President Barack Obama's alma mater.

Actress Yara Shahidi will head to Cambridge, Mass., to pursue higher education.

Shahidi, 17, who plays Zoey Johnson on the Peabody Award-winning hit TV show "Black-ish," announced Tuesday she has committed to attending Harvard University. Shahidi shared a photo on Instagram of herself in a Harvard sweatshirt, along with a James Baldwin quote:

"The paradox of education is precisely this — that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated." — James Baldwin #CrimsonPride

The teen was accepted to four colleges in which applied. In addition to Shahidi's achievements shown in her academic transcripts, she also received a letter of recommendation from former First Lady Michelle Obama.

"She is very amazing and such a supporter, which is something very surreal to say," Shahidi said in an interview with W Magazine.

The former first lady has appeared on stages alongside Shahidi, including Glamour Magazine's International Day of the Girl event in October. Shahidi has said she believes her portrayal of "Black-ish" character Zoey is "activism through art."

The eldest daughter of the former first couple, Malia Obama, will begin classes at Harvard in the fall after taking a gap year between high school and college. Obama was criticized by some for her decision, and even subjected to racist responses.

In May 2016, Fox News had to disable the comments section of a brief article about Obama taking off a year from school. Readers inundated the post with racist comments such as calling her an "ape" or "monkey." Fox News readers also posted racist comments about the former first lady.

In an interview with People magazine in October, Shahidi said she is also "planning on deferring at least a year."

"I know when Malia Obama announced [she was deferring], she got a lot of slack, but I feel like what's interesting is I know so many people that are deferring," she said.

"It's more than to just roam around or just sit down and stare at a wall, but it will also give me an opportunity to work.

'I've been working more than half of my life and that's always been balanced with school and all of the other responsibilities, so to have a year to focus on work and to focus on specified interests will be nice before I pick a career and choose what I want to study and my life path."

Talk of Shahidi and Obama attending Harvard together was abuzz on Twitter:

Last month, Harvard's first Black Commencement took place two days before the school's traditional graduation events.

"We really wanted an opportunity to give voice to the voiceless at Harvard," Michael Huggins, president of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance told CBS News. "So many students identify with the African diaspora but don't necessarily feel welcome as part of the larger community, and they don't feel like their stories are being shared."

Participants said the ceremony is "a way of celebrating their shared experience as a group, and not a rejection of official college graduations, which they also attend," according to The New York Times.

Harvard has also made headlines for taking an increasingly tough tone on racism, sex assault and harassment.

The university has revoked its acceptance of at least 10 applicants to its incoming freshman class after learning the group traded sexually explicit and sometimes racist images in a private online message group.

On Sunday, the Harvard Crimson report, the student newspaper, reported that the messages, exchanged on a private Facebook group, at times joked about sexual assault, ethnic groups and the Holocaust, and referred to child abuse as sexually arousing. One message referred to the hanging of a Mexican child as "pinata time," the newspaper reported.

University officials notified the students in April that their admission offers had been revoked, the Crimson said.

In late January, The Harvard Law Review, which has been in existence for 130 years, named student Imelme A. Umana its president. Umana makes history as she serves as the law review's first Black woman president.

Umana follows in the footsteps of former President Barack Obama, who in 1990 became the first Black man elected as president of the law review.

Harvard Law School faced controversy in 2016 over its seal that had ties to Boston-area slave owners. After a student group's campaign, one of the university's governing boards agreed to retire the seal. The law school was tasked with proposing a new symbol that better represents its values.

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