The first day of Black History Month kicked off with the second annual Black Heritage Ball, a celebration of culture as vibrant as the clothes guests wore.
Co-hosted by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette NAACP and the African Student Association, the Black Heritage Ball welcomed a room full of guests in traditional clothing, speaking eagerly in flowing French and excited English.
“We’ve been doing it on the first to kick off Black History Month and a celebration of black culture,” Danielle Edwards, president of the UL NAACP, said. “It’s not just exclusive for people of African descent; however, it’s targeted at people of African descent, as well as bridging the cultures between African people and people that identify as African American or simply just as black.”
The evening began with a presentation on black identity and culture, an idea suggested by peers from the previous year’s ball, according to Edwards. The discussion yielded answers that were both heartfelt and sincere.
“My black is unapologetic,” said Mashaera Alexander, vice president of the UL NAACP. Often, she said, black people had been forced to ignore or push away their culture.
“I just feel like my black is handsome,” Lotanna Nweke said, a senior in petroleum engineering. “I know that I have faced circumstance where I hated myself, my skin complexion. I hated being so dark, but I’m happy that I’ve realized my black is handsome.”
The presentation ended with an invitation to the buffet in the next room, an area that was quickly full of guests eager to dine on an array of foods (including the best brownies I’ve ever had in my life) and make their way into the next room as music, a fusion of traditional and modern music, flowed from the speakers.
There were dance competitions, one jigging contest and one African dance contest.
“Whoever can do the African dance best will win a dashiki that was donated by One Love International,” Edwards said.
No one was free of the rhythm, and contestants gathered around Temmi Oyebola, leader for public relations for the UL Lafayette’s ASA and their dance instructor for the night.
Finance student Ebiuwa Aduwa took home a multicolored dashiki for her performance in traditional dance. Other prizes, such as a pair of watches and another dashiki, were given out for modern dancing and door prizes.
Dancing and mingling continued long into the night with the occasional performance such as the drumming done by Nweke and two friends.
“We have food and drinks and a DJ and laughter and fun and good friends,” Edwards said, “and good time.”
This event is just one of many planned for Black History Month hosted by groups such as the UL NAACP, Black Women Leadership Association and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Their events can all be found on the Office of Campus Diversity website or the UL Lafayette Calendar.