Brannon Cahela, Staff Writer
JSU concluded its celebration of Black History Month with a banquet in Leon Cole Auditorium on Tuesday, February 27. The banquet was well attended by a diverse group of students, faculty, community members and special guests. The event was planned and organized by JSU Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the SGA.
The evening began with a moving performance by the JSU Gospel Choir. Afterwards, Breon Moore, Vice President of Student Government Association and Master of Ceremonies set the tone for the evening by saying, “This evening we will appreciate the past, celebrate the present and embrace the future.”
After Moore’s opening remarks President John M. Beehler gave a short speech on the importance of diversity.
“At JSU we strive for excellence in all that we do, including diversity and inclusion. Every organization at JSU is better and makes better decisions if it includes all people from all races, colors, creeds and nations,” said Beehler.
After Beehler’s short speech, President of Alpha Phi Alpha, Xi Xi Chapter, Khiry Smith presented Black History through the spoken word. The performance included a few quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dinner and entertainment for the evening included a buffet style meal featuring soul food classics like fried chicken, ribs, macaroni and cheese and collard greens. Accompanying dinner was a fashion show by Forever Young Modeling Troupe.
After dinner the highlight of the evening began as Dr. Heidi Louisy presented the 2018 Celebration of Hidden Figures. The Hidden Figure awards are a celebration of individuals currently working at JSU who contribute to the university’s growth in diversity.
Among those awarded this year included: Tracy Broom, Assistant Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator; Vinson Houston, Chief Information Officer; Cleo Lemon, Gamecocks Wide Receivers Coach; Sandra Sudduth, former instructor at JSU and current member of the Regional Medical Center Board of Directors and councilwoman for the City of Jacksonville; and Earl Warren, director of institutional development.
Following the presentation of awards, WBRC Fox 6 News Reporter and JSU alumni Jeh Jeh Pruitt gave an inspiring presentation as the event’s official keynote speaker. During Pruitt’s presentation, he spoke of the African concept “Ubuntu” meaning, “I am who I am because of who we all are.”
“We have to help each other to succeed in order for this life to be what it is,” said Pruitt. “Remember the word ‘Ubuntu’ and what it means and how you can help someone. And how it takes a village for someone to be successful. I don’t know about you, but I think Jacksonville State University is that village. I think that JSU knows the concept of Ubuntu.”
The evening concluded with closing remarks by Dr. Louisy who, along with JSU Diversity and Inclusion Committee, helped plan and organize the event.