By: Jana Getty
On March 12, MacAfricans, in association with the President’s Advisory Committee to Building an Inclusive Community and McMaster Students Union President Chukky Ibe, hosted the first inaugural Maroon in Black formal.
Maroon in Black aimed to “create a space to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of black students, faculty, alumni, and staff” according to MacAfricans Co-President Sara Mustafa. The event issued awards to black McMaster community members who have excelled.
During the year, many events have taken place aimed to celebrate minorities on McMaster campus. However, according to Mustafa, there has never been an event at McMaster aimed at celebrating black individuals. In its inaugural year, the Maroon in Black formal filled a niche that was long overdue.
“We hoped that we created a space where we can acknowledge and celebrate one another. Many of the award recipients have achieved great things and it is important for the McMaster community to know of their achievements and it is important for us to acknowledge them,” said Mustafa. “When black people go to similar events, they are always the minority. At the Maroon in Black Formal, that was not the case and that’s what made it so unique and wonderful.”
The event follows those held at other universities, which have sought to highlight black students and their successes, such as the University of Toronto’s black graduation ceremony held in June 2017.
The event was organized to create a safe space where black students, staff and McMaster alumni could acknowledge and celebrate each other. In an environment where the voices of a minority are often lost in the crowd, this event turned the spotlight on many important achievements of the black community.
Awards of the night included the graduate academic and graduate community service award, won by Akua Pepra; undergraduate community service won by Sahra Soudi; the black aspiring physicians at McMaster for the undergraduate academic year award, won by Sebat Mohamed and Sonia Igboanugo. Awards were also issued to faculty members, such as Dr. Juliet Daniels, who won the “mom” award, an award for those who actively mentored others in the community or allies that have taken the extra task of active advocacy and support for McMaster students.
On top of awards being issued, there were also talks given by prominent black McMaster community members.
Ibe gave a speech, as did other students active in the McMaster community such as Mustafa and Jordan Lentinello. The formal also heard speeches from distinguished McMaster alumni, such as Omobola Olarewaju, Leo Johnson and Tumi Adegoroye.
MacAfricans will continue to hold events throughout the year meant to acknowledge an empower the black students on campus. Their next event is Afrofest, a large theatrical event that celebrates African culture through acting, singing, dancing and modelling.
All the content is written and performed by McMaster students and the proceeds are donated to the Empowerment Squared charity, an organization created by McMaster alumni.
In a school that prides itself on its acceptance and diversity within its population, an event that celebrates the achievements of one of it’s minority populations was long overdue. Maroon in Black was a memorable night celebrating students whose acknowledgement was well deserved.