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NAACP chapter puts on pageant

Amber Travis | Monday, January 21, 2008

A small group of Notre Dame students gathered for the third annual Mr. and Ms. Ebony ND Pageant on Saturday in Washington Hall.

The pageant is sponsored by the Notre Dame Chapter of the NAACP.

The winners of this year’s pageant were senior Milo Dodson and freshman Rachael Banks, who were each one of three males and three females competing for the title.

The pageant was founded by seniors Usi Abugo and Brittany Canty, who is also the current president of NAACP, in 2006 after they attended the Mr. ND Pageant.

“We figured that we should do a pageant that showcased the African-Americans on campus in a different light other than academic or athletic and show that they are eloquent, graceful and have more talent than people thought,” Canty said.

She also said there was a limited presence of minorities in the other campus pageants and wanted to raise awareness of this pageant in the future.

As pageant winners, Dodson and Banks received $50 gift certificates, a crown and a sash along with a year’s worth of bragging rights.

“I was really appreciative of the NAACP and everyone involved, and it really feels good to know that all of my hard work paid off,” Dodson said who participated in the pageant once before.

Banks became the first freshman to win the title of Ms. Ebony ND.

“I’m glad that I won,” she said. “I got a crown which was pretty awesome.”

She also said she liked the fact that a freshman won the title but felt that it may have also been nice if one of the upperclassmen had won since one of the other contestants was a senior.

The six contestants were judged by three individuals based on evening wear, personality, talent and a final question which touched on a variety of topics that included global warming and this year’s presidential elections.

Dodson’s talent competition included reading a poem and playing a song on his saxophone. Banks delivered a monologue before the judges.

The show began with a dance routine choreographed by Notre Dame senior Franchella Holland.

“I wanted something new that reflected royalty since it’s a pageant,” said Holland, whose choice of song and choreography was inspired by a scene from the popular film “Coming to America.”

All of the contestants were pleased with the new edition of the pageant.

“When I did the pageant my sophomore year, we didn’t have the opening number with all of the contestants dancing,” Dodson said. “That really showed how the pageant is progressing as far as creativity.”

Since the first Mr. and Ms. Ebony ND Pageant, organizers have strived to create an authentic atmosphere by judging competitors on real talents, Canty said.

Organizers and audience members noted they would like to see a larger audience in the future.

“It was a fair amount of people, but we would have liked to see all of the seats of Washington Hall filled on the same level as other cultural events so that everyone can support each other,” Dodson said. “I’m not just talking about the black community but the Notre Dame community as a whole since we are all peers.”

Canty asked the winners to wear their sashes to classes today as a way of promoting the pageant in the future.