Competition celebrates activists in honor of Black History Month


Dressed in suits and historical costumes with note cards at the ready, seven student teams made the case for their champions; a group of activists whose messages have endured the test of time. Presenting and sometimes acting out their arguments, the trios of students expounded on why their historical figure deserved their respective place in history.

Joining the ranks of figures such as Malcolm X, Corrie ten Boom and Paul Robeson, Susan B. Anthony was selected as the 2013 inductee to the Black History Month Multicultural Heroes Hall of Fame.

During the 12th Annual Black History Month Multicultural Heroes Hall of Fame Case Competition Wednesday evening, the winner was chosen from a field of nominees including Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and A. Philip Randolph.

Justin Wan / The State News
Justin Wan / The State News
Justin Wan / The State News

Presented by marketing freshman Christina Cafagna and supply chain management majors, senior Sarah McCarthy and freshman Pallavi Vadapalli, the team, “B. The Change”, was chosen over the six other groups to claim the $1,500 grand prize.

“We were looking to put a twist on a traditional presentation, but in an empowering way,” Vadapalli said. “We were really trying to do something that would make people remember that Susan B. Anthony and MLK had the same goals.”

The hall of fame is displayed November through January of each year in a showcase in Eppley Center and receives recognition at the annual MSU Excellence in Diversity Awards.

“(The competition was) created to honor heroes that exemplify the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King in terms of his mission of social justice and equal rights,” said Darrell King, associate director for Multicultural Business Programs and the competition’s founder. “We wanted to have an event that was educational and would help people recognize that there are many, many multicultural heroes from all different areas around the world.”

Paulette Granberry Russell, director of Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, has judged the competition since its first year. She said she believes the competition brings awareness to less well-known champions of human rights.

“I think too often most people associate the civil rights movement in this country to simply those that are typically represented in history books,” Granberry Russell said.

The event’s organizers see the competition’s primary goal as one of building awareness.

“Every year this program provides an educational experience for all those who attend,” said Ernest Betts, assistant dean for Multicultural Business Programs and one of the competition’s organizers. “Every year I learn a lot about those individuals around the world and within this country that have embraced the vision of Dr. King and shared his dream.”

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