Black tie banquet unites students together


blackTieBSU_samBy Kailee Dunn

As women strolled through the room wearing flapper dresses and pearls and men stood tall wearing tuxes and ties, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald filled the air as students were transported to a different point in history.

The EWU Black Student Union and ASEWU hosted the Black Tie Banquet in the Hargreaves Reading Room on Feb. 28 to recognize several of Eastern’s students and faculty members for their outstanding service. The theme of the event was Harlem Renaissance.

According to BSU President Satori Butler, the Harlem Renaissance was a point in the 1920s where there was a cultural movement for African-Americans. The Public Broadcasting Service’s  “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow,” describes this movement as an explosion of African-American writers, poets, musicians and scholars.

To begin, Denzel Johnson welcomed everyone and presented the first award to ASEWU President D.J. Jigre for “making a difference.” Jigre was not present at the banquet, so Johnson accepted the award on his behalf.

“This award is presented to someone who is making a difference and going against the grain,” Johnson said. “He’s such a hard worker.”

Also presented with a “Making a Difference” award was Jackie Vaughn.

“Social change is something that I’m big about, and to be recognized by my peers for this means a lot,” said Vaughn.

Two faculty members, Bayyinah Jeffries, assistant professor for the EWU Africana studies, and Lynn Burks-Herres secretary senior of the psychology department, were recognized with the “Outstanding Administration Professional” award for their exemplary work for social justice.

“It is an honor to get an award for something I just enjoy doing,” Burks-Herres said.

Other award recipients included Haite Toure and Veronica Simmons for “Most Valuable Member” in BSU, Susie Kang for “Academic Excellence,” Molly Ayers and Gabby Ryan for “Most Involved” in the community and T.J. Lee III for “Athlete of the Year.”

“I didn’t know I was going to be accepting this award tonight, so thank you,” Lee said.

Following the awards, dinner was served, courtesy of EWU Dining Services. The meal included chicken wings, meatballs, vegetables, fruit, fruit punch and red velvet and white cake with raspberry filling.

The audience had an opportunity to show off their snazzy duds on the dance floor following dinner.

In addition, there were also musical performances by Zhirsty Laulu, who sang “At Last,” and Olivia Gaghagan, who sang “Wrong Side of the Bed,” and a poetry reading done by Jannessa Durden.

Senior Jacquenette Boyd said overall the event was about bringing the school together.

“[The banquet] is just to wrap up Black History Month. It’s open to all students throughout Eastern, so can be more together and not cliquey with different races and diversity,” Boyd said.