Black Excellence Gala exceeds expectations

Attendees enjoy live music and catered food at the Black Excellence Gala. Photo by Rutth Mercado.

Attendees enjoy live music and catered food at the Black Excellence Gala. Photo by Rutth Mercado.

Attendees enjoy live music and catered food at the Black Excellence Gala. Photo by Rutth Mercado.

Attendees enjoy live music and catered food at the Black Excellence Gala. Photo by Rutth Mercado.

Although organizers expected 100 guests to attend, attendance at the Black Excellence Gala surpassed 117 guests. Black History Month committee members recognized faculty members at the Gala as planned, along with one student was also recognized as a last-minute decision. 

Shayla Owens, business management junior,said, “We felt this student embodied what black excellence meant. She’s worked really hard to cultivate her new up-and-coming volleyball team, so we couldn’t overlook her.”

The Black History Month committee awarded four faculty members at the Gala. Aisha Siddiqui, assistant professor of psychology, Andrea Button, sociology instructor, Tiffany Stewart, associate professor of counseling, and Nathan Jun, associate professor of philosophy. 

“I wasn’t expecting to receive an award. I was pleasantly surprised and flattered. It’s a huge honor. I’m encouraged by the work students have done on campus. This is my eight year at MSU and the first academic year where I feel there has been serious political activity and movement for social justice. It’s both heartening and exciting,” Jun said.

Several guests that attended the Gala said they enjoyed the festivities.

Alexus Moore, sociology junior, said “I enjoyed the speaker. The fact that he was our age and actively making an impact in his community is amazing. It makes me think that I could and should be doing so much more. I loved that he focused on the young adults, because when you look back in history, a lot of social change came from college students just like us.”

Amongst those guests was also Doris Smith, pastor at St. Matthew Baptist Church.

Smith said, “It was really a display of excellence throughout. From the greeters, to the food, to the students, to the speaker. It couldn’t have been done any better. I’m overjoyed and thankful. For the first time and the first year, I’m amazed at how beautiful it was with decorations, music, soloist, everything. I loved how raw the speaker was, truly full of excellence.”

The Black History Month committee members began set up around 6:30 p.m. and this first year, first time event came at a price that reflected its efforts.

According to Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs, various administrative offices provided funding for this event. Lamb said the president’s office provided most of the funding for the programming, while his office provided funding for the speaker. 

Owens said, they spent $100 for the museum attendant, $500 for giveaways, $3,500 for the speaker, $1,150 for food provided by Chartwells, $200 for promotional products, $800 for decorations and china. Amongst other expenses, the Gala’s total cost came to $8,180.