Renaissance Ball Changes Traditions
For 48 years now Kent State University has hosted the Renaissance Ball although it wasn’t always called that. When it was created in 1968 by the Black United Students, it was originally dubbed ‘Queen Meuse Ball.’ The ball was created to give African American’s a homecoming they allowed at.
The homecoming is not a traditional dance, instead it is more pageant based with contestants. These Contestants compete for the title of king, queen, prince and princess.
This year was especially big because the production team took on new skits, unlike any other year before. Usually, the ball would drive right into the pageant but this year an entire choreographed production was done first.
“We had our own little production at the beginning,” stage manager Olivia Johnson said. “That hadn’t been done before. It was nice to add a new element to the ball.”
Pageant members and other BUS members took part in the dance that looked at African American culture throughout the decades. In between dances, one student recited poetry pertaining to the theme of the ball; ‘unapologetically black.’
For one student though, the ball meant much more than just celebrating African American culture. Sophomore JaLynn Hairston was announced to take over the position of director of programming for Black United Students at Kent.
“I never really realized what a big deal it was,” Hairston said. It wasn’t until she read a list of executive positions that she quickly realized she was now the third in charge.
While this new position yields a ton of work, both Hairston and Johnson are confident she is the right fit.
Johnson explains the amount of work she and Hairston put into the production for this year’s ball, stating that they had many “sleepless nights and early mornings.”
Hairston sees her position as the glue that holds this community together. Her position oversees event planning and drawing in the crowd. As Johnson said it’s a ‘big job for one sophomore.’