The National Association of Black Accountants Hosts Black Excellence Gala

Caption: Courtesy of Mousa (@flixbymoe)

By Kiara Jones-Ford

 

   To close out Black History Month of 2024, the Brooklyn College National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) hosted their second annual gala, “A Night of Black Excellence,” in the Student Center on Feb. 29. The event was a collaboration with the Black History Month Committee (BHMC) and The Black and Latino Male Initiative (BLMI).

   The Student Center’s Gold Room was decorated in shades of green with gold accents, with vases of pink flowers as centerpieces. Members of the BC community, both past and present, were glammed up for the occasion in tuxedos and gowns. Dinner consisted of sweet potatoes, oxtail, rice and peas, sweet plantains, and collard greens–foods that are commonly associated with several cultures across the Black diaspora. Outside, a photoshoot area captured the night all while a DJ played music by several Black artists.

   The name of the gala stems from the term “Black excellence.” According to USA Today,  the term is often used to recognize the accomplishments and advancements of those in the Black diaspora, especially in the face of anti-black and racist rhetoric. To the event’s MC, BC freshman Jay Perez, “Black Excellence” is more than just a term. “Black excellence to me means supporting and uplifting my community,” he told The Vanguard. “Just seeing Black leaders and knowing we’re there.” 

   The night’s theme consisted of floral arrangements, done purposefully to represent the progress of Black leadership.

   “I wanted this event to show the current generation that blossomed from the past. Our history and what it has created,” Jessica Vaivao, NABA’s president and a senior at BC, told The Vanguard. “We are the Black community and being Black or even [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] BIPOC  is to understand that we are a part of a field of flowers that’s growing through concrete, hence why there was a lot of floral imagery during this event.”

   The green color palette chosen also held significant meaning to Vaivao, made to represent the vast sources of wealth the community has. “I believe there’s a wealth of knowledge and talent with the Black community which was showcased at the gala with the awards, performances, the speeches and everything on display to show the talents of the Black and BIPOC community.”

   Students were nominated for various categories, including: education excellence, community service and outreach, music, art, and writing, and social justice activism. Winners included leadership from the Anime Club, the Women of Color Club (WOC), the Caribbean Student Union (CSU), the Korean Culture Club (KCCO), and several BC fraternity and sororities present on campus. Awards given were based on the nomination and votes of the BC student population.

   BC senior and USG senator Darla Moise was among those who were recognized for their work and impact, winning the award for Humanities & Social Science Academic Excellence. 

   “Winning the award is an acknowledgment of my impact on campus. Getting dressed up and being invited to an event such as a gala legitimizes the importance of the work I do,” Moise told The Vanguard. “It means a lot because though it’s voluntary, pushing for change and recognizing is the norm for me. So getting recognized for it is a reminder of how meaningful it is.”

   Along with the awards ceremony, several performances were shown as dinner was served. Musical performances included members of the Steel Drum Club, and BC alumni Devon “Maestro Kaiso” Webster on his violin. A short film, “Agua ‘e Panty” by BC alumni Astrid Perez, was played afterwards.

   Vaivao expressed that the event was a culmination of Black history, recognizing not just the struggles, but the beauty of all the achievements that have been brought about by Black leaders. 

   “This event–for me–represented the accumulation of our history and accomplishments as the Black and BIPOC community. I feel like there’s so much focus on the hardships and pain of the past, for valid reasons of course, but less on the achievements and moments of joy within Black History,” Vaivao said.

   NABA will be hosting financial literacy classes coming up as well as networking events with companies and firms to help students prepare for their careers. To Vaivao, the gala was part of the continued growth and success that will grow in Black leaders’ futures.

   “I wanted this event to focus on the joy,” Vaivao said. “We are the creators of the future and the products of the past, and we shall flourish to allow the next generation to blossom into something greater than us.”

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