The Mr. and Ms. Black UK pageant, a homecoming week staple for over 30 years, took place Wednesday night in Memorial Hall. Described as “a chance to celebrate the minority culture and presence on campus” by the UK Alumni Association, the pageant allows African-American students to share their talents and beliefs.
The event is hosted by the Black Student Union and the Mu Epsilon chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. According to the pageant chair, junior Caitlyn McFadden, the pageant gives “minorities on campus an opportunity to embrace themselves.”
“It’s always been a big thing, especially with it being the week of homecoming,” said McFadden before the pageant. “They have the homecoming court, but it’s not actually a way that they can showcase who they are and what they like to do…This year, we have a very diverse group...so I feel like this is just a nice way for black UK to come out and show out.”
The pageant began with introductions by each of the 12 contestants, followed by a talent competition. The talents showcased included singing, monologues, spoken-word poetry and painting. Many contestants used their talents to tell stories about themselves, detailing topics such as a passion for clothing design or a struggle with chronic illness.
The pageant also included audience participation in its multiple intermissions. In keeping with the pageant’s theme, “90’s House Party,” audience members were invited to come onstage and showcase 90’s-themed outfits or answer 90’s-themed trivia questions. The intermissions also featured a performance by student-led hip-hop team Implicit Dance Crew.
A Q&A session followed the talent portion of the pageant, in which contestants explained how they would better the university if crowned Mr. or Ms. Black UK. The pageant culminated in a coronation, in which Payton Anderson was crowned Mr. Black UK, and Kennedy Brown was crowned Ms. Black UK. Brown also received the Best Female Talent award for her modern dance performance of Kelly Price’s song “Tired.” Freshman Aliyah McDaniel was named Miss Congeniality, and the Best Male Talent award went to Michael A. Williams III for his piano cover of Frank Ocean’s “At Your Best.”