A blossoming rebirth

Regina Garcia Cano

Beauty, heritage and scholarship celebrated at Renaissance Ball

Students perform for the opening of the Renaissance Ball and Pageant held by Black United Students. David Ranucci | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Thirty-nine years after it was first celebrated, the annual Renaissance Ball and Pageant marked the rebirth of Black United Students last night.

“We are celebrating the knowledge of our past and reinventing ourselves,” BUS Programmer Ashley Morgan said. “This has been a great year for the black community; we’ve had a lot of events on campus.”

Themed Lotus Garden, the event gave nine contestants the opportunity to show their talents to a full Ballroom, as they competed for the titles of King, Queen, Prince and Princess.

Morgan said she chose the theme because it symbolizes rebirth, long life, health, honor and good luck.

BUS President Ashley Tolliver said the group created the Renaissance Ball to celebrate black beauty, heritage, scholarship and achievement in an upscale setting.

Originally named Black Ball, Morgan said the event was created because during the 1960s, black students were not allowed to attend Kent State Homecoming celebrations.

“This is like the Homecoming for black students, but everyone is welcomed,” she said.

The winners were selected based on their creativity, individuality, poise and crowd participation.

The following contestants won the awards:

&bull Princess: Chatiera Ray, fashion merchandising major

&bull Prince: Michael Stover, integrated math education major

&bull Queen: Loren Thomas, broadcast journalism major

&bull King: Payton Curtis, chemistry major

Stover said he decided to participate to gain another experience on stage.

“I’m really into music and hip-hop,” Stover said. “I’ve been dancing and performing for over two years.”

For contestant Stacie Morgan, a first year dance education major, the 39th anniversary of the ball demonstrates the stability of the organization that created it. She said the Renaissance Ball encourages black students to feel proud of where they come from.

Some students attended the event because they believe it is a tradition that should be preserved by the black community on campus.

“It’s really great that a portion of our community can get together for something positive,” said Katya Philmore, sophomore fashion merchandising major.

The event brought together different generations. Alumni and professors were also present.

Associate professor Alene Barnes said she has attended 25 Renaissance Balls during the 26 years she has worked in the department of Pan-African studies.

“It creates a sense of black unity,” Barnes said. “In the first Renaissance Balls they required African garments to contribute to their heritage.”

Barnes said she has helped some of the former contestants.

“One year a student of mine didn’t know what to do,” Barnes said. “I gave him some African music, he did some good moves and he won.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].