Celebrating Black excellence
On Saturday, Feb. 25, it was an excellent day to be Black at the University of Dayton. Student organization Black Action Through Unity held its annual Black Excellence Ball. BATU students chose this year’s theme, “Harlem Nights.” It was the perfect way to end the celebration of Black History Month on campus.
As of fall 2022, enrollment at UD is 6% Black or African American. Being Black at a predominantly white university has its challenges. There can be a feeling of not having that sense of belonging, feeling isolated and not being able to find others with whom I share experiences and relate to.
While I have felt this many times, the establishment of student organizations like Black Action Through Unity and Women of Remarkable Distinction, and UD's Multi-Ethnic Education Engagement Center have helped to ease these challenges.
BATU, in particular, has served as a representative voice for Black students at the University of Dayton. In 2018, former president of BATU, Veronica Halfacre ’18, wanted to do more and helped to create the first-ever Black Excellence Ball.
Halfacre said she wanted to start this event for Black and brown students at UD to allow students of color to dress their best and celebrate their culture and history in a formal setting with no judgment.
At this year’s event, Halfacre was recognized, and I heard her give a heartwarming speech.
“In 2018, I wanted to make a contribution to the legacy of BATU,” she said, “and each and every one of you has the opportunity to contribute to anything that’s important to you. As a Black student at UD, it is imperative to make sure that you’re remembered and that you make an impact on your university.”
“As a Black student at UD, it is imperative to make sure that you’re remembered and that you make an impact on your university.”
The Harlem Nights theme was based on the hit movie released in 1989 featuring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and Richard Pryor. All attendees dressed in their finest gowns and suits with accessories that mirrored the theme.
Rhinestones, feathers and gold shone on various shades of melanin. Students came with confidence in their finest attire to show how proud they were of their background and how beautiful they felt in their skin.
Art and photography made by Black students at UD was featured in a display in The Gallery, showcasing the talent and versatility of UD’s Black students. The theme of this year’s gallery was The Hourglass Exhibit centered on Afrofuturism, a movement of art, music, literature and more featuring science fiction themes that incorporate elements of Black culture.
“There is a lot of pressure when it comes to the BATU ball because you don’t want to fail,” Ford said. “Our predecessors have done an amazing job with the (event), and we all want to make sure that we’re meeting the standards they set and even surpass them, especially because our Black community is counting on us.”
The Black Excellence Ball is an event where student can celebrate and honor what Black excellence is truly about; line dances, food, attire, culture, art and awards to those who surpass expectations of Black excellence.
Serving on the decorating committee, I loved being able to assist in making this event beautiful for the Black community on campus. Although I loved being able to get dolled up with my friends and dance all night, seeing that my creations and ideas brought others joy was the highlight of my night.
As a Black student at UD, it means a lot that my culture and background are celebrated, recognized and cherished at the University of Dayton. In a world where there is hate and discrimination, I am so lucky to be attending a school where my fellow Black students have opportunities to make a difference and can be proud of who they are.
Photography courtesy of AM Visuals by Aleighia Mayle.