2022 NAACP Image Awards given to students, staff


Ashanti Thomas

From left, Daisha Mitchell, a sophomore pre-nursing major, Mia Smith, a sophomore pre-nursing major, and Najma Mosley-Williams, a sophomore biochemistry major, cheer for their friend, Ariel Johnson, a sophomore pre-medicine major, to win the best shoe award during The National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People’s (NAACP) Image Awards Friday night, in the Grand Ballroom of Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Katja Benz, Campus Reporter

Eastern’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, defended Black excellence at the 2022 NAACP Image Awards. 

Throughout the night, there were performances from various students and student organizations, such as Elite Elegance, Eastern’s majorette style dance team. 

Ja’la Stencil, a freshman health communication major, said that having this type of dance is vital at a school like Eastern.

“Being Black has everything to do with this kind of dance,” Stencil said. “This kind of dance is majority Black because it’s southern. You see it at a lot of HBCUs, so you don’t see it at schools like Eastern. But we’re trying to bring it here so that way there’s Black people in the community that can join if they want to.”

The group performed after multiple students and staff received awards. 

Among the staff receiving awards was Omar Solomon, an Eastern admissions counselor.

Solomon received the Thurgood Marshall Award, which is an award for Black male staff members. The male staff member that receives the award promotes diversity and inclusion across campus.

Solomon said that receiving the award was a blessing. 

“It’s always a blessing,” Solomon said. “I feel like I try to do my job as a Black man every day on this campus to set a set of standards and set the image set of students that we recruit, be a Black, brown, any personal issues, I can move forward and move forward for greatness. I think that’s the key thing about what we do here at our university. It’s helped me so much. I feel like I’m only doing my job to pay it forward and help everyone else.”

People also wanting to pay it forward should become allies with the Black community, said Sihile Mwalongo, a senior economics major.

“(People can start) being allies and honestly educating yourself and not expecting Black people to educate you,” Mwalongo said. “You doing your own research. Really just educating yourself and being respectful.”

Mona Davenport, the executive director of the Office of Inclusion and Academic Engagement, thinks something similar to Mwalongo. 

Davenport thinks that people need to understand what Black Americans go through.

“I don’t necessarily know that they can help people elevate,” Davenport said. “I just think that they need to be open. I think what they need to do is literally ask people in the United States. They have to understand what we’ve gone through as a people and how we are working to be better.”

Stencil said that it is also important for Black Americans to realize that they are enough, to stand up for what people believe in and to embrace their Black beauty.

“Being Black means being strong, being an individual standing up for what I believe in, doing what I feel is right regardless, what anybody thinks, embracing their beauty and who you are and just knowing that you’re enough.” Stencil said.

Solomon said that being Black is beautiful.

“Black is beautiful,” Solomon said. “Black is everything. I feel like being a Black man on this campus, or just being a Black man in America, is just an opportunity. Every opportunity that you have, you have to take advantage of it and I’m blessed to be here. (I’m) blessed with the opportunity to help others. But more importantly, I’m blessed to set a standard for those who are going to walk in my footprints one day, so they could be Mr. or Mrs. EIU. So, I feel like the mantle of Mr. EIU is just the mantle. But I also feel like anybody can take that mantle and run with it because that’s what I did. And hopefully one day somebody who might look like me will do the same thing.”


Katja Benz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].