Black United Students present 40th annual Ebony Achievement Awards

Lauren Rathmell

Kent State’s Black United Students hosted its 40th annual Ebony Achievement Awards Friday night.

This year’s event entitled “Remembering the past, honoring the present and encouraging the future,” opened with a video created by freshman journalism major Christiana Ford featuring students discussing the importance of their education and what they plan to do with it once they leave Kent State.

J’Niah Davison, freshman special education major, and Emonte Wimbush, sophomore fashion merchandising, emceed the evening.

Wayne Dawson, anchor for Fox 8 news and Kent State alumni was the keynote speaker. Dawson expressed how honored he was to return to Kent State and see the impact the black community has made.

“It’s great to see that the Black United Students are still strong here,” Dawson said. “This is a wonderful organization and I applaud those who are a part of it.”

Dawson recalled his days at Kent State and his journey to success, explaining that he was the “least likely to succeed” when he started out.

“I wasn’t the smartest. I wasn’t the wittiest. I didn’t come from a wealthy family,” Dawson said. “If I can achieve my dreams, there is absolutely no reason why anyone here tonight cannot achieve their dreams.”

He credited his success with believing in himself and constantly working with his goals in mind.

“If you can see it, and you believe it, put some work to and you can achieve it—that’s the bottom line,” Dawson said. “It’s about visualizing yourself where you want to be. I did all that, and when I graduated from Kent State, I walked into channel 8 and got a job.”

Dawson challenged the students to invest in their strengths in order to grow and become successful.

“You are the head and not the tail. You are programmed for success. It is in your nature. It is in your DNA, in your destiny. You are the offspring of kings and queens of Africa,” Dawson said.

After Dawson’s speech, awards were handed out to students and faculty for their achievements and impact on the black community throughout the year.

A performance by the Barefeet Dance Tribe, who won the Primetime Organization award, closed the awards portion of the evening.

Isaac Floyd, junior nutrition major and now former BUS president, took the stage to make some closing remarks about tolerance.

“To be black is to be different, to be a different kind of beautiful. To be black is to be great, powerful, strong, intelligent,” Floyd said. “Blackness is what is shown by the media. It is not all we are, but it is what we make of it.”

Floyd encouraged students to acknowledge what makes them different, and not only tolerate those differences, but love them.

“Look beyond tolerance and demand respect,” Floyd said. “Most of all, I encourage you to redefine the black identity with your experience.”

After his speech, Floyd swore-in the new executive board members of BUS. Chynna Baldwin, a sophomore psychology major, was named the new president of BUS; Bernard Branner, a junior communication studies major, was named vice president; Samantha Durr, a junior international relations major, was named director of political affairs and grievances; Jaynell Nicholson, a junior environmental conservation biology major, was named executive secretary; Imani Reynolds, a junior human development major, was named director of community affairs and Megan Betts, a sophomore sociology major, was named director of student relations.

Baldwin closed the ceremony with her views on the future of BUS.

“The legacy of Black United Students is not over,” Baldwin said. “Our movement, our impact, our love, our ideas, our activism, is not yet finished.”

Lauren Rathmell is a diversity reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].