On Saturday, the Binghamton University chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held its fifth-annual Image Awards in the Mandela Room of the University Union. The black tie affair’s theme was Afrofuturism, a term that celebrates the triumphs in black history and imagines a future filled with arts and technology seen through a black lens.
The event featured a jam-packed program filled with guest speakers, vocal performances, dances and a performance by the X-Fact’r Step Team. The two guest speakers were BU alumnus Daniel Adeyanju, ‘13, and community activist Erica Ford, and the BU Gospel Choir, Dzidefo Africa Choir, Quimbamba Latin Dance Team, Black Dance Repertoire and Uyai Nnua African Dance Team brought energy to the event through their performances.
Adeyanju was the first guest speaker of the night. He used humor and his passion for technology to encourage the attendees to seek challenges and pursue innovation, leaving attendees with three statements to live by.
“Always be connected,” Adeyanju said. “Always be building. Always be learning.”
Along with motivating attendees to put these three ideas into practice, the Image Awards honored students already doing so. La Vos Magazine, a student publication affiliated with BU’s Latin American Student Union (LASU) that works to give a voice to minorities, received the Crisis Magazine Award. The Soaring Humanitarian Award was given to Natalie Munoz, a senior majoring in Latin American and Caribbean Area studies, for her role in helping bridge language barriers for migrant women and children at the Texas border, while Laquan Garvey, a junior majoring in human development, received the Humanitarian Award for his work through church programs, Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Habitat for Humanity.
Garvey said the NAACP has greatly impacted his time at BU and reflected on the importance of pushing back against racism in the collegiate setting.
“NAACP has shown me through their actions what it means to take a stand against discrimination in a higher education setting and provides students with the opportunity to truly make a difference,” Garvey said.
The Soaring Entrepreneur Award went to Jada Greene, a senior majoring in art and design, who runs her own hair extension and mink eyelash business, and Susan Obatola, a junior majoring in economics who built her own hair extension brand called Adunni Angel Extensions, received the Entrepreneur Award.
“The event definitely inspired me to continue doing the work I do for women, people of color and as a change agent on this campus and the rest of the world,” Obatola said.
Kendra Gourgue, a sophomore majoring in English who created inclusive orientation programming at BU and planned the Black Student Union’s first Black Museum, received the Soaring Game-changer of the Year Award. The Black Museum, hosted on Feb. 12, showcased art and photography from black students at BU. The final award of the night was the Game-changer of the Year Award, which was given to Khaleel James, the Student Association’s vice president of multicultural affairs and a junior double-majoring in economics and human development. James emphasized that the awards ceremony brings important recognition to students in BU’s multicultural community.
“The NAACP Image Awards allows students in the multicultural [community] to be acknowledged for the hard work they do for the community,” James said. “The multicultural students of [BU] are students that deserve recognition and I am glad NAACP presented them with that recognition.”
Ford encouraged all attendees, including those who won awards, to continue pushing themselves every day, noting that tomorrow isn’t promised.
“If we wanna make a change in this world, we gotta do it right now,” she said.