Miss Black EIU rings in 48th year Saturday

Hannah Shillo, Entertainment Reporter

The 48th annual Miss Black EIU scholarship pageant is showcasing some of the hard-working young African-American women of Eastern at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Grand Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets will be available at the door for $10 or $8 before the event.

Contestants include Mary Fleming, a junior applied engineering and technology major; Melea Burkes, a freshman neuroscience major; Latricia Booker, a sophomore pre-nursing major; Alexis Paige, a junior marketing major; and Jacqueline Williams, a freshman kinesiology and sports studies major.

Parrish Amos, a pageant assistant and co-coordinator of the pageant, said while all women are able to apply for the annual Miss Black EIU, the focus is mainly on the history of African-Americans on campus.

“There was a time when black women didn’t win homecoming queen,” he said. “(The pageant) is to help black women feel good about themselves.”

He said the pageant will begin with an introduction of the five contestants, then it will quickly move into the first session: creative expression.

In the creative expression session, Amos said the women will provide a creative way of what they feel is important to them and the African-American community, whether it be with a monologue, song or poem.

Amos said the event would then shift into the second session, where the contestants will dress in African garment pieces to show what they believe a strong African-American woman looks like.

This year, the individual talent portion will consist of three dancers, a flutist and a circus act, Amos said.

He said the pageant will move on to the fourth and final session, where the women will “wear their nice, lovely evening gowns, answer impromptu questions from the judges and prepare for the crowning.”

Amos said both he and the current reigning queen from 2018, Raven Gant, who coordinated the pageant, have been at the daily practices with the contestants as their coaches and mentors.

“I’m very excited to see all five ladies put their talent, displays, creative expression and art in front of everybody,” Amos said. “They have been working extremely hard.”

He encouraged students to attend the event, saying how rewarding it will be for everyone.

“I think it would be good to come support the ladies who have worked so hard,” he said. “It’s good for African-Americans and young women to see all of the hard work that goes into (the pageant), and this may be encouraging for you.”

Amos said some of the contestants this year applied for the pageant after being inspired by the pageant last year.

He said those who get inspired this year should be on the lookout for more information in December from the Black Student Union, and applications will be available around then as well.

“It’s a good experience,” Amos said. “On top of that, it’s Black History Month, so we want to put on as many Black History Month events as possible.”

Hannah Shillo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].