With the mentality to engage, empower and educate, the University of Dayton’s Office of Multicultural Affairs sponsored this year’s annual Black History Month programming on campus in February. Black Action Through Unity, BATU, sponsored a number of events throughout the month, including the Black Excellence Ball.
Darius Beckham, BATU’s president, took pride in organizing some of this year’s programming. He has experience planning previous BATU focused events, including Black Alumni Weekend last year. Despite some bumps in the road, Beckham expressed the event’s huge success and how excited he was to work on this year’s celebration. The message and theme BATU hoped to convey through their programming was black excellence.
“It was really just making people feel like their best self,” Beckham said.
“From academics to extracurriculars and social gatherings, we wanted to really allow people to feel like the best version of themselves and be comfortable.”
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Events throughout the month included discussion-focused dinners, film screenings, a game night and a fashion showcase.
Beckham organized the screening of the “Agents of Change” documentary, a film about black students protesting on predominantly white campuses and the discussion that followed. He first saw this documentary back in October at a conference hosted by the Association for the Study of African American History and Life (ASALH) in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Beckham says BATU’s most anticipated and biggest event was the Black Excellence Ball in Kennedy Union Ballroom on Feb. 10.
For Beckham, the ball was intended for students to look their best, while at the same time, mitigate comparisons between Black Student Unions (BSUs) at historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and predominantly white institutions.
“One of the things that is touched on during those conversations is HBCUs have homecomings, HBCUs have formals, HBCUs have celebrations of black people and black history,” Beckham said.
“We took up upon ourselves, here at the University of Dayton, being the BSU, to organize something that would be a celebration of our history, of us.”
He added that the Black Excellence Ball was going to be ratified into BATU’s constitution because it was successful and enjoyable for many.
BATU sold $800 in ticket sales, and students from other universities attended. University of Dayton staff and BATU advisors took part in the event as well.
Jenea Adams, BATU’s secretary, was pleased with the turnout for the ball.
“We showcased local art, supported a fellow Flyer and their business, and overall gave people the opportunity to look their best and come out to celebrate one another,” Adams said.
BATU’s Black History Month celebration came to a close on Feb. 27 with their annual soul food potluck in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Moving forward, BATU has already begun their planning process for next year, according to Adams. Beckham and the BATU executive board want to shift their attention on professional development events for their members.
Photos Courtesy Jenea Adams