Black United Students hosts 39th annual Ebony Achievement Awards


Sophomore Kyndall Echols hugs host Marcus Donaldson while accepting the female Rising Star Award during the 39th Annual Ebony Achievement awards on Sunday, April 19, 2015. The Ebony Achievement Awards recognize students, faculty and staff who have had a significant impact in Kent State’s black community.

Daisha Overstreet

The Kent State Black United Students presented the 39th Annual Ebony Achievement Awards titled “The Revolutionary Act: Fists High, Heads Higher” Sunday night in the Kent State Student Center Ballroom. 

The Ebony Achievement Awards honored several students, faculty and organizations for their accomplishments this academic year.

BUS members Savanna McCarthy, sophomore journalism major, and Doneisha Hawkins, junior construction management major, presented a video titled “What is a Revolution?” that kicked off the awards ceremony.

“Revolution looks like a lot of things on campus. Sometimes we think a revolution is giving a speech at the Ebony Achievement Awards or writing a huge piece in the newspaper,” senior psychology major Leia Belt said in the video. “But I think a revolutionary act is sometimes just being in class, or sometimes choosing to be a biology major or a pre-med major knowing you’re going to be the only person that looks like you in the classroom.”

Keynote speaker and Kent State alumnus Lafayette Tolliver spoke to the audience about the purpose of a revolution and the influence individuals can have in starting a revolution. 

“Being a revolutionary is more than talk. It’s action. Be it grand scales or small scales, each and every person has a role or a task that you can perform. All of us have a role,” Tolliver said. “Every person here can do something that makes a difference in your life or someone around you.”

He said he was a member when the organization was founded at Kent State in May 1968.

“We (BUS) were involved in shutting down the university, taking on the administration’s building; we even had a walkout on campus where hundreds of students left the campus in protest of what was happening on the university,” Tolliver said.

Renaissance Ball winners Jakim Harvey, sophomore exercise science major, and Kyndall Echols, sophomore fashion merchandising major, presented several awards including the Rising Star Award, Student Leader Award, Advisor of the Year Award and Organization of the Year award to students and faculty.

Matthew Thompson, now former BUS president and senior sports administration major, was awarded Student Leader of the Year. After he accepted his award, he gave some final remarks and comments on the graduating seniors and the executive board of BUS. He then swore in the executive board for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Isaac Floyd, sophomore exercise science major and the new president of BUS, closed the ceremony as he was officially sworn in.

“The time is now. The responsibility of our people does not lie in the hands of the privileged few. The responsibility of our people does not lie in the hands of officers or administration. It lies in us. We are strong,” Floyd said.

He said he hopes people feel comfortable speaking out and telling the truth. By voicing an opinion, uncomfortable situations can be addressed.

“The responsibility does not belong to Obama or Spike Lee or Malcom X or Martin Luther King Jr. or Assata Shakur,” he said. “It is up to us here in this room today.” 

Contact Daisha Overstreet at [email protected].