Black Excellence event celebrates Black achievement with theme ‘Resilience Through the Storm’

This+illustration+depicts+someone+receiving+an+award+during+the+Black+Excellence+celebration+that+will+take+place+on+Feb.+3.+The+purpose+of+this+celebration+is+to+highlight+the+achievements+of+Black+faculty%2C+students+and+staff+at+Oregon+State+University.

Alex Koetje, Illustrator

This illustration depicts someone receiving an award during the Black Excellence celebration that will take place on Feb. 3. The purpose of this celebration is to highlight the achievements of Black faculty, students and staff at Oregon State University.

Riley LeCocq, News Reporter

Oregon State University’s Black Excellence celebration, which highlights the achievements of Black faculty, students and staff, returns with a large in-person ceremony for the first time in two years. 

The event is set to take place on Feb. 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Toyota club level of Reser Stadium, welcoming students and community members to gather for awards and a catered dinner. Everyone is welcome to attend this event to support award recipients, but space is limited, so registration is required.

This event, which is the sixth to take place on OSU’s campus, is sponsored by Oregon State Athletics and the Office of Institutional Diversity.

“Those signature programs are big events that draw out a lot of attendance and the purpose is magnified,” said Terrance Harris, director of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, who incorporated the event into the center’s annual programming when he came to the university six years ago. 

Last year, though the event was conducted over Zoom, a similar celebration was still held, allowing members of the community to be recognized virtually. 

This year, organizers look forward to the in-person festivities, which include aspects not possible over Zoom such as the catered dinner and a 180-degree photo booth from Limelight, a Pacific Northwest company, complete with props and digital photos.  

“Being a part of the Black community at OSU, I see the Black Excellence celebration as a form of empowerment,” said Dorice Goune, the communication representative for the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center. 

Honorees at the event are expected to be faculty, staff and community members who have done outstanding work in the community as well as peer-nominated students. 

“It’s a way to encourage students to keep on impacting their community through actions,” Goune said. 

Past themes of Black Excellence, such as ‘Black Oscars,’ encourage high fashion and black tie attire as does this year’s theme, ‘Resilience Through the Storm’. 

Goune sees the event as a way to defy prejudice and racist ideas degrading people of the Black community by showing up to “give that image of Black excellence in the [OSU] community.”

Ella Bailey, a second-year transfer student majoring in biohealth sciences plans to attend the event after hearing about it through the LBHBCC. 

“What piques my interest about it really is that we are all going to be in a space that really celebrates Black people’s achievements, which I think is super important,” Bailey said. “I really just like the idea of getting dressed up with your friends and getting to celebrate things that have happened around you.”

Bailey, who transferred to OSU from another institution this academic year, noted how different this kind of programming is from her last university.  She said her previous school did not have similar resources on their campus.

According to Bailey, having this showcase available for connections can make a big difference.

“I think it is a really great opportunity to get some Black morale up,” Bailey said. “Especially in a predominantly white university, it is important to highlight Black excellence.”