Black students recognized for their activism, leadership in annual pageant
Students of color took the stage Friday night in the auditorium of the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center to show off their brains, talent and passions in hope of being crowned the next Mr. and Miss Black MSU.
The pageant, which is designed to highlight the excellence within the black community at MSU, has been taking place since the early 2000s.
Originally the pageant featured only male students, but in 2012 the “Miss” portion was added in order to provide a male and female face for the black community at MSU.
According to history senior and Black Student Alliance Vice President Patrice Wright, the winner of the pageant should be “someone who embodies a well-rounded person.”
“So someone who is social, someone who’s intelligent, someone who can talk about issues in the community and someone who can work good under pressure,” Wright explained.
While the event runs much like a typical pageant with four rounds, multiple contestants and a panel of judges, this one stands out in that it is not rooted in beauty, but rather on community activism.
“All of our contestants look good tonight, but it’s about what do you have in your brain, are you an intellectual, do you care about your community, do you really service your community,” Wright said. “You have (do) more than just look good. You have to really have a heart for the community and you have to know what you’re talking about.”
This idea was highlighted during the community awareness portion of the pageant, in which each contestant spoke about an important issue in the black community. Topics included issues like child abuse, misrepresentation of black history in education, and mass incarceration of people of color in the U.S.
Marketing sophomore and Political Affairs Director of the BSA Kelsi Horn said that this increased cultural awareness is one of the pageant’s main goals.
“A lot of the things the contestants were saying, people aren’t knowledgeable about, and that’s one thing as black students we’re knowledgeable about our history,” Horn said.
Wright said the pageant is a way that leadership is fostered among black students.
“I’ve seen a lot of people grow from this pageant, a lot of people grow to be the president of the organization, so it’s just really a way to build up leaders in our community,” she said.