Grace, beauty and spirit were the themes of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.’s Miss Black and Gold Pageant on Friday night.
The pageant was hosted by the organization’s Omicron Pi and Alpha Theta chapters, which are seated at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, respectively. The pageant featured three contestants, including two active members of the Iowa State community.
Johnnie Campbell, freshman admissions counselor at Iowa State and member of Alpha Phi Alpha, said this was the first pageant the Omicron Pi chapter has had in a decade.
“This is basically a philanthropy event for the organization as a whole,” Campbell said. “It started in the early '70s as a way to pay homage and to uplift women, particularly women of color, but we open up the event to any woman who is a student at the institution.”
The pageant was sub-headed “Visions of Nefertiti: Grace, Beauty and Spirit” in reference to Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, an Egyptian queen. It took place in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union. Paintings of Queen Nefertiti’s profile and silhouette stood on easels placed on both sides of a stage. Several members of the organization came to support the event, as well as individuals from other Greek organizations.
After a short introduction from the emcee, the contestants stepped onto the stage wearing black pants and black shirts with gold writing, matching the fraternity’s representative colors, old gold and black.
To kick off the event, the contestants performed a choreographed dance to “Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson. They danced perfectly in sync, not missing a beat.
It was later stated that the song was chosen because it was performed in an Egyptian-themed music video, matching one of the themes of the pageant.
The three contestants of the pageant were: Amber Abogunrin, junior in apparel merchandising at Iowa State; Deshauna Carter, sophomore studying psychology at Drake University; and Alia Jamison, senior in kinesiology with a focus in pre-medical studies at Iowa State. Each contestant carried highly-decorated résumés.
Each contestant was judged on attire, presence and speaking ability. The winner of the pageant would have been granted the opportunity to compete in a regional pageant, which would precede a national pageant for the winner.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Campbell said. “I'm proud to be a brother of this fraternity.”
Campbell served as a judge for the event alongside Kenyatta Shamburger, assistant dean of students, director of multicultural student affairs and member of Alpha Phi Alpha.
The pageant was composed of four events: a display of casual wear, a showcase of talent, a display of formal wear and an interview.
To showcase her talent, Abogunrin performed spoken word poetry on her experience as a student of color at a predominantly white university. Carter performed an original rendition of recording artist Tina Turner’s “Rolling Down the River” with help from two backup dancers. Jamison emotionally performed “Flaws and All” by Beyonce.
Before the interview portion, Campbell stepped onto the stage to perform “A House is Not a Home” by Luther Vandross, a performance met by awe and immense applause.
During the interview portion, the contestants were asked who the most influential woman was to them. All three said their mothers were their biggest influences. Jamison would go on to win the pageant, earning the title of 2017 Miss Black and Gold.
Chandler Wilkins, senior in community and regional planning and president of the Omicron Pi chapter, was happy with the event.
“I’m very pleased with the turnout we had,” Wilkins said. “The energy was great, and I was very proud of the event overall.”