Written by Simbiat Lugboso
Photos by Toussaint Mitchell
The lives of our people and culture are scrutinized every single day because we break the social norm without even trying. We challenge society and prove to the colonizers that although a minority, our black magic is superior. The 15th annual Black Excellence Ceremony on May 5 at SIU proved how amazing we as black people are.
The ceremony celebrated SIU students’ academic and leadership achievements. Entering the ballroom, it was impossible to miss the visions of black success and achievements assembled in all different shades. People were smiling and laughing, and the room was very busy. While some students were sitting down at the tables, other were still by the front door registering their names. mothers, fathers and SIU staff came to see their child or student walk across the stage to receive their certificate and Kente stole.
As the future comptroller of Black Affairs Council, I had the honor as serving as one of the event’s emcees, and it gave me a unique view of the entire room. Over 200 students attended the ceremony and each one was recognized for graduating. The women were looking graceful as the men looked dashing, showing off the melanin magic that shines through their skin. I stood on stage with my friend and fellow emcee, Sarah Whitehead, as we called out each name. One by one, students walked across the stage and received their certificate and stole. It gave us such satisfaction seeing the smiles on their faces. Some students even danced their way across the stage. Students like Marissa Jackson, the associate coordinator of Black Affairs Council, was inducted into the Black Affairs Council Hall of Fame, and Kayla Craig was recognized for a Black Empowerment Award.
The celebration was hosted by Black Affairs Council. More than an umbrella student organization, BAC and its on-campus office is like a second home and the people in it are like my extended family. It is like the heart of the black community on campus, a place where everyone comes to voice their problems, come up with new strategies, complete their assignments and just relax. As future comptroller of the organization, I’m excited to be more a part of a space that allows me to be unapologetically myself and express my opinions and views.
As black people, most of us were not born with a silver spoon in our mouth and each of us is going on a journey that is supposed to lead us to greatness, despite the odds that we’ve been dealt.
Five-time graduate at SIU, Dr. Johnathan Flowers explained that our academic career has been built by a system of institutionalized oppression. Our experiences and encounters here of institutionalized oppression is just practice of what we are going to face in the world we are about to enter.
We are all a part of something greater, something that our ancestors fought so hard for and risking their lives. Congratulations to all the black graduates of SIU, for rising above the systematic oppression that was built to keep us under.
The journey starts here.