As Black History Month comes to a close, SMU students and alumni will celebrate the achievements of African-Americans at the 3rd Annual Black Excellence Ball Saturday night. This is the first time the Association of Black Students and Black Alumni have collaborated for this event.
“ABS created their Black Excellence Ball the same year that Black Alumni created our History Makers Reception,” Black Alumni member Lauren Driskell said. “We decided that combining our events this year would give great perspective into everyone’s experiences at SMU.”
The annual scholarship and honor event will recognize 11 Black history makers from SMU who impacted the entire campus from as early as 1971. ABS President Tyrone Davis says strides made by these alumni constitute as “Black Excellence.”
“Black Excellence is success that triumphs all adversity. It is the desire and will to not only keep going when people say you won’t make it, but to keep going and succeed,” he said. “Black Excellence is building on the founding principles of the past to create a better future.”
A special group of Black Alumni, SMU 52 Club, will also be introduced at the program. The number 52 represents the first year minority students were admitted to campus. Perkins School of Theology accepted SMU’s first black students in 1952. Club members donated to a Black scholarship fund sponsored by the alumni group. All alumni will have the chance to mingle with the students they opted to financially support.
“The reception gives alumni an opportunity to see the great work that ABS is doing and why they should be supported,” Driskell said. “We want to be in touch with SMU and its climate.”
ABS will honor students who have consistently donated their time and efforts to the organization this year. Pastor Richie Butler will deliver the keynote address. Butler helped create a 285-unit housing development in South Dallas that has spurred economic activity and improved conditions in the community. He currently serves on the SMU Board of Trustees.
“His achievements will go down in history as great accomplishments, and I can’t wait to hear what he is going to be speaking to us about,” Davis said.
Driskell, who will be honored at the event, says the award she will be receiving isn’t just for her. She acknowledged SMU history makers Anga Sanders and Fredricka Johnson. Events like the Excellence Ball, she says, are important for SMU.
“We have excelled in a variety of different areas, made our mark on the University and the world and it really is a feat,” Driskell said. “It hasn’t been 100 years since the University was integrated so the fact that there are people that endured hardships to get a degree from SMU makes me appreciate my degree that much more.”
The ball takes place in the Hughes-Trigg Ballroom Saturday at 7 p.m. The Daily Campus will publish an event recap on Monday. Follow @SMU_ABS on Twitter for live updates.