BUS celebrates ‘Forthcoming’ at annual Renaissance Ball


All contestants stand with queen Ajee Smith, king Kevin White, princess Dorothy Bell and prince Andre Taylor at the 44th annual Renaissance Ball November 14. Photo by Grace Jelinek.

Madeleine Winer

Ajee Smith applied to be a contestant in the Black United Students’ 44th annual Renaissance Ball because she wanted to try something different. The first-time pageant contestant claimed the title of queen by the end of the night.

“I’ve never been in a pageant before and never won anything like this,” said Smith, freshman business administration major. “… I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could do it.”

Members of BUS joined other Kent State students in the Student Center Ballroom to watch contestants perform group dances, display individual talents and answer questions about the university. A ball followed the competition.

What you need to know:

The Renaissance Ball

  • The Black United Students Renaissance Ball was originally created because black students were not allowed to attend Kent State’s Homecoming.
  • The Renaissance Ball recognizes students from all minority groups, and the campus community is asked to participate in the annual event.
  • To be a contestant in the pageant, students fill out applications and are interviewed by the BUS president, vice president and program directors. Students who wish to participate must have a 2.5 GPA, be in good academic standing and be involved on campus.

    Information provided by Kevin Bouknight, co-director of programming for BUS.

Kevin White, senior fashion merchandising major, was named king. He said he wanted to participate in the competition before he graduates.

“I just wanted to do the Renaissance Ball because it’s my senior year and I’ve been coming to them every year,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to participate, but this is my last chance … I had to do it before I go.”

Both White and Smith said they look forward to working with BUS to spread the word about its upcoming programs like black history month and the next Renaissance ball.

“I just want to make sure I get [BUS’s] name out there and tell other students we are here to stay,” Smith said.

A panel of seven judges made of up Kent State faculty, staff and students, scored contestants and decided pageant winners. Dorothy Bell, freshman chemistry major, was crowned princess and Andre Taylor, sophomore exploratory major, was crowned prince.

Sierra Solomon, BUS vice president, said the theme for this year’s Renaissance ball was Forthcoming, a futuristic theme that symbolizes African Americans coming into their own.

“The Renaissance Ball is all about uplifting,” Solomon said. “Our themes are always set to reflect the beauty of African Americans.”

Dairia Harvin, who co-hosted the event for the evening with Steffahn Maclin, was named queen of the Renaissance Ball last year, which she said helped her become a leader on campus.

“With the title, I definitely worked hand in hand with Black United Students helping with a lot of their events,” she said. “It was motivating for me because I felt like I had to live up to a certain title.”

Contact Madeleine Winer at [email protected].