black united students’ 51st annual renaissance ball

photo by maggie harris

Champagne and lavender colored gowns sweep across the ballroom floor as guests arrive. A bite from a macaron coats the mouth in a subtle sweetness. One low-pitched thud of the bass and the music starts. All heads turn to the stage as the lavish night of performances and cultural celebration begins. This is the Black United Students Renaissance Ball. 

“A Night At The Royal Museum” was the theme for this year’s 51st annual Renaissance Ball presented by the Black United Students organization here on Kent State’s campus. The historic importance of this event dates back to 1969 and began as a way for Black students on campus to express their school pride together during a time when Black students were not welcome to participate in the homecoming celebrations with the rest of campus. The Renaissance Ball is a yearly tradition that continues to celebrate Black culture and students on campus. The Black United Students are also known for proposing a month-long celebration of Black History Month in 1970, which was later adopted nationwide. 

This year’s Renaissance Ball took place on Friday, Nov. 12. The night began with a dinner provided for all attendees. This allowed time for guests to mingle and admire each other’s formal wear, which was required for entry to the event. The formal dress code not only elevated the class of the event, but also gave participants a long-awaited opportunity to grab their favorite gown or suit from their closet after almost two years of predominantly virtual events. The ball commenced with the introduction of the night’s three hosts as well as the coordinator of the event, Taminique Blackwell.

Photo by Maggie Harris
Photo by Maggie Harris.

After this, the curtains opened to reveal the night’s ten contestants, all posed as glorious statues to tease the audience of what was to come. There were several group dances throughout the night where each of the contestants moved in tandem with one another to create a beautiful scene. After the dances came the talent portion of the evening, which included poetry, singing original songs, Vogue-worthy catwalks and an original short play written by Julian Grimes. After the talents and a few outfit changes, the night ended with a formal wear round where each contestant got to show off their best style and answer a question from a judge. Included were questions such as “Who is your role model?”, “How can you better your community?” and “How can you improve upon a weakness of your own?” The questions allowed both the judges and the audience to get to know more about each contestant and hear their thoughts on different topics. 

Malcom Mitchell performs an original rap for his talent showcase. Photo by Maggie Harris.

While being served a dessert of macarons and crème brûlée, audience members were given the opportunity to vote for their favorite contestant, and admire their peers’ style as about 30 audience members strutted the stage for the title of best dressed. After this came the crowning of fan favorite, prince, princess, king and queen. The audience’s fan favorite vote was cast for Kiara Moore, a sophomore fashion design major and one of AMag’s own stylists. Princess was given to Atira Wong, and prince was given to William Joiner. The king of the night was Julian Grimes, a freshman theatre studies major, and the reigning queen was Kiara Moore.

The evening was filled with laughter and glamour, and was a joyous celebration of the Black community on Kent’s campus. The Renaissance Ball is a great Black United Students tradition that everyone should witness during their time at Kent State.

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