A night to remember: The Renaissance Ball

Taminique Blackwell assists Manny Jackson in putting on his chain backstage during the formal wear portion of the Renaissance Ball on Nov. 8, 2018.

Nyla Henderson

Black United Students hosted its annual Renaissance Ball Thursday.

The Renaissance Ball started as a way for black students to celebrate homecoming in their own way.

“The Renaissance Ball was started 49 years ago in 1969, a year after BUS was created,” said JaLynn Hairston, a senior applied communications major and the Renaissance Ball director.

In the past, black students attending Kent State were not welcome to traditional homecoming events because of racial tensions, so they created their own cultural celebration.

“Black students weren’t allowed to participate in homecoming events on campus due to racism and things that black people (went) through at that time,” Hairston said. “They created a safe space for themselves and it allowed them to be great, so 49 years later it’s still going on.”

Every year, the BUS executive board chooses a theme for the ball. This year’s theme was “Reclamation.”

“Back in the day, black people couldn’t be apart of homecoming, so this is our reclamation of homecoming,” said Aren Harris, a junior exercise science major and a Renaissance Ball committee member.

The ball includes a pageant, a talent show, a scholarship giveaway and a crowning ceremony.

“I love it,” said Nicole Robinson, a parent who attended the event. “I like to watch all the kids, their talents and watching them all dress up, I like the history and watching all the kids come out and have a good time.”

Most people who attended the event saw it as an opportunity to socialize with others while revisiting their history.

“Basically it’s a socializing event,” Hairston said. “We as black people don’t have a lot of events where we can just come and socialize with each other.”

Shardai Turner, a junior biology pre-med major, said the event was “kind of like prom again” because “you get to dress up and get cute.”

“It seemed pretty well-organized for a student-planned event,” Turner said.

The Renaissance Ball is a night of historical remembrance but also a time for fun and relaxing in a safe space.

When asked what he hoped people would take away from the event, Harris was quick to answer.

“I just hope people have a good time and they understand the history of homecoming,” Harris said.

Nyla Henderson is a diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected].