Pageant focuses on minority accomplishments

By Brenden Walz

Athough there is only one Miss Black NIU, the four runners-up in last Saturday’s Seventh Miss Black NIU Cultural Pageant will not go away in tears because of not placing first.

Instead, they will be working together to organize next year’s pageant.

The teamwork and camaraderie between the five contestants adds a different spin to the traditional idea of a beauty pageant.

“It’s more like a coming together as one,” said Tawanna Daniels, who was selected as this year’s Miss Black NIU.

First runner-up Dionna Walker agreed.

“It’s not based on beauty,” Walker said. “I joined because they judge you based on what’s inside you.”

“You know the saying, ‘looks are deceiving?’ One of our purposes is to set an example for minorities, especially for black women,” Walker said. “We cannot set an example by just being beautiful.”

As part of their pageant titles, the three finalists will have duties during the next year. Daniels will be responsible for promoting education and understanding of black culture, while Walker will be next year’s pageant coordinator.

Patricia Montgomery was declared second runner-up. Her duties will include fundraising and advertising.

LaTonya Seanior, 1991 Miss Black NIU, said the mind of the woman ranks over body in the pageant.

Instead of focusing on good looks, Seanior said judging was based on each contestant’s intellectual ability, especially their understanding of black history and politics.

Before the pageant was held, all of the contestants attended a series of workshops to learn about the rules and format of the pageant, along with discussions of black history, the role of black women and other subjects.

Also during the pageant, various aspects of African culture were presented including a recital of the “African pledge” by Program Coordinator for the Center for Black Studies, Van Amos.

Also, a presentation of African garments and dramatizations by each of the contestants was presented.

Certificates of appreciation were presented to a number of faculty and staff members in recognition of their contributions to NIU and the black community.

Several black women at NIU were also recognized with awards honoring their contributions. Among those recognized were Maria Waller, Black Student Union president; Barbara Henley, vice president for Student Affairs and Artila Mims, editor of the black student publication, LifeLine.