Performances, awards at 2018 Black Girls Rock event

Ny'Ea Reynolds

Ferndale junior Ny'Ea Reynolds accepts her Best Dressed award at the Black Girls Rock! award gala on Feb. 11at the Bovee University Center Rotunda Room.

Central Michigan University students filled room 221 in the University Center Rotunda during the 2018 Black Girls Rock event Feb. 11. Attendees were dressed up for the event and socializing over refreshments and cake before the festivities began. 

Kicking off the night, Grand Rapids sophomore India Ambrose read a poem she wrote. She spoke about what it is like to be a woman of color in today's society. Her poem focused on the strength of women and the hardships women of color face every day. 

The award ceremony began after the conclusion of Ambrose’s poem — with 11 awards given out. The awards were all named after influential women of color throughout history. A couple examples were the Yara Shahidi Award won by Lincoln Park senior Dana Whyte and the Kerry Washington Best Dressed Award won by junior Ny’Ea Reynolds.

“This award goes out to all the people who make fun of me for getting dressed up for my morning classes,” Reynolds said.

Guest speaker Sherelle Hogan gave the keynote address. Hogan is the president and founder of the Pure Heart Foundation, which is a community base non-profit that offers therapeutic emotional learning and embraces learning experiences for children of incarcerated parents. 

Hogan spoke about her personal experiences and hardships about growing up with two incarcerated parents. Hogan shared her struggles of abuse and poverty and how she overcame those hardships within her own life. She said when she first started the Pure Heart Foundation she only had 20 patients — now she has 4,000.

“It is my responsibility to protect children from psychological damage that could appear when having incarcerated parents,” Hogan said. “The only way to solve a problem is to make noise.”

After Hogan’s address, participants performed an interpretive dance routine to the song For Women. The routine was meant to symbolize the strength of women. The women were dressed in all black and cast dancing silhouettes onto the white background behind them. 

“We are not a group, we just practice a few times to prepare for the event,” said Flint junior Danielle Horton.

Jazzies Treats, Mikki, Neesh’d and Jocelyn Sansom Photography were some of the few vendors at the event.

“The first dance was my favorite part,” said Detroit graduate student Jocelyn Sansom.

Senior Dyese Matthews won the Michelle Obama Award for excelling in and outside of the classroom while also being an outstanding role model for women.

“Do what you want on this campus,” Mathews said. “You get out what you put into your college experience.”