By Gianna Melillo
Complete with a cocktail hour and black tie attire, the College’s Black Student Union (BSU) knows how to celebrate the culmination of Black History Month in style. Members gathered on Saturday, Feb. 27, in the Decker Social Space for their annual Legacy Ball. The event celebrated “35 years of excellence” with a live band, a sit-down dinner, speeches and an air of accomplishment and festivity.
To kick off the night, senior communication studies major and BSU President David Brown announced that the goal of Black History Month was to “remind the global community of the great historical accomplishments of black people.” He added that BSU wishes to “show the TCNJ community what black culture is all about.”
Three honorees were acknowledged that night for their contributions to the College community. The first was Patrice Coleman-Boatwright, who served as the advisor for BSU for over 20 years and is a former higher education administrator. She also worked as the associate vice president of Community Relations and Special Campus events for the College and served on the College president’s cabinet in addition to other positions on campus.
Her husband, James Boatwright, was also honored at the event. Boatwright headed the New Opportunities at Hofstra University (NOAH) and worked to help underrepresented groups of university students with financial disabilities. The program earned recognition from the New York State Department of Education following the success of several NOAH’s participants. In 1986, Boatwright became the director of the Educational Opportunity Fund Program (EOF) at the College and laid the foundation for the program’s successful legacy.
Last but not least, the union celebrated the hard work of James E. Chambers, Sr., who currently serves as the liaison to the schools of Engineering and Science at the College. He formerly worked as the director of the College Bound Program, along with serving as an academic advisor for the EOF program. Chambers also served as an adjunct professor of English at the College, as well as at Mercer County Community College.
A performance of the Black National Anthem followed the ceremony, which brought about a smattering of applause. The night took off with a mix of photographs, dancing, speeches and comradery.
Lauren Dorvil, a sophomore psychology major and the vice president of Historical Affairs for BSU, helped organize this commemorative event, which held a high turnout of roughly 180 people.
“I think it’s been a tremendous Black History Month,” Dorvil said over the music and chatter. “I am humbled and grateful for the amount of diversity at all of the events we put on this month. It’s great to see students of all different backgrounds come out.”
With a goal in mind to reach out to the entire campus community throughout the month, it was clear that the union’s efforts paid off as a mix of old and young members of the College community from various backgrounds attended the ball.
Senior biology major Hailey Marr heard about the event through word of mouth. When asked about the previous events held during Black History Month, Marr said, “I went to one or two and thought they were interesting — I figured I might as well go to the rest.”
Marr also remarked on how successfully the evening came together.
“Trying to plan something to this caliber, I think they did a fabulous job,” Marr said. “There was definitely a lot of commitment and work that was put into it.”
An atmosphere of class and a genuine sense of accomplishment and contentment persisted throughout the night.
“This is my second year on the (executive board),” Dorvil said. “I had a vision of a ball. I wanted to do something special and memorable for 35 years and I didn’t want to wait until 50.”