Student organization honors black women

Kayla Bryant wears her crown like a true leader after receiving the Ms. Black President award.

By Lindsey Salvatelli

Black women who go above and beyond within the community were honored and celebrated during a tribute event Thursday.

The “Tribute to Black Women,” was organized by Brothers Reaching Out To Help Enlighten and Rejuvenate Self-consciousness, or B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S, with a “Return of the Crown” theme to honor black women and their heritage.

B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S President Ibrahima Diallo said the “Tribute To Black Women” event is one of the largest occasions his organization holds each year.

“It’s the event we honor the accomplishment or achievement for the young black women on campus,” Diallo said.

DJ K.O kept the crowd moving during intermissions while B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S Vice President Brandon Smith and B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S member Kirk Gregory kept the crowd laughing with their brotherly banter.

“In this room, right now, we have some of the most educated, beautiful, and most of all, fierce women who stalk NIU’s campus,” Smith said.

Alumna Yolanda Battle delivered a speech to the young women in the audience. She encouraged them to embrace their differences and empowered them to decide who they want to be instead of allowing society and stereotypes to define what it means to be a black woman.

“There are many faces to the black woman, but who do you say who you are,” Battle said.

Each woman nominated received an award certificate, with the winner being dressed in a tiara. Awards ranged from the best dressed to those who are most involved on campus. The Ms. Black President award recipient was Kayla Bryant. Gregory compared the nominees to former First Lady Michelle Obama.

“She was true to what she believed in,” Gregory said. “Whether it was the organization she was involved in, whether it was the community she was giving back to, whether it was her own family. I think those same traits and characteristics is what these nominees have displayed not over one semester, but over the entire year.”

B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S Choice Award was given to Chavonis Black, Sisters Interacting Soulfully through Thoughts Emotions and Realisms to attain Self-awareness, or S.I.S.T.E.R.S member, for her devoted support of the organization. Gregory presented Black with a special gift to show B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S appreciation for her sister role.

“On behalf of the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S organization, Chavonis, we thank you,” Smith said “You’ve been a shoulder for us to cry on, you’ve been there when we needed [it], and you’ve definitely seen us at our worst.”

Toward the end of the tribute ceremony, B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S acknowledged Shekia Baker, daughter of La Russo Baker, one of B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S founders who passed away in August.

B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. Co-Founder Willie Doss took the stage with Shekia to speak about Baker’s vision and love for B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S.

“[Baker and I] have shared in this journey for over 30 years to try to grow young, black men into men who will be men of integrity, who you as black women will be able to know and to love and appreciate,” Doss said.