Each year, K-State’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity present young, diverse women with the opportunity to represent themselves in the best possible light by competing for the title of Miss Black and Gold. Eleven contestants will compete in K-State’s 16th annual Miss Black and Gold pageant this weekend.
“The Miss Black and Gold pageant is our way of showing the intelligence, talent, excellence and unheralded beauty of African-American women on the campus of Kansas State University,” Craig Swan, senior in finance and pageant organizer, said.
Contestants are required to complete several different etiquette, resume and public speaking workshops in preparation for the pageant.
Swan said their mission is to show black women in a positive light, which is not always promoted in the news or on social media. Contestants are responsible for selling advertisements and tickets for the pageant and the title will go to the most well-rounded contestant.
“It’s a scholarship pageant, not a beauty pageant,” Swan said.
Contestant Raychel Gadson, senior in public relations, said she wanted to participate in something where she would get to know strong, motivated women because she doesn’t have a lot of female friends and she was looking to change that.
Briana Hawkins, junior in pre-journalism and another contestant, said the pageant has not only helped her gain more confidence but learn communication and etiquette skills as well.
After transferring from the University of Tampa Florida last year, Gadson had to re-adjust to being at a new school, making new friends and getting involved on a new campus.
“I had to start over with making friends and getting involved on campus and everything,” she said. “I’m pretty shy about introducing myself to people, so I’ve just been slowly trying to meet more people and get more active in campus and Black and Gold has really helped.”
Despite being shy, Gadson said she likes to push herself and competing in the competition would help get her out of her comfort zone.
“Time management, ad sales and creating my dance routine were all very challenging,” Hawkins said. “My dance piece is from a different culture so I had to learn the technique and give it my own flavor.”
Contestant Nekole Hines, freshman in pre-journalism, said she has learned just how much time management goes into preparing for the pageant.
“It’s a responsibility thing because you have to hold yourself accountable to memorize so much,” Hines said. “And then just keeping yourself up to par because you have to go to practice, school and then to work.”
Hines said one of the most challenging things is trying to balance out her personal life, school, work and Black and Gold.
“One thing I’ve learned is you’ve got to be strong, and you have to have that mindset to get fantastic grades so you can get the GPA that you want, ” she said. “And get those hours in at work so you can get that money. Black and Gold is a competition so strive for that goal to win, because I’m trying to win.”
Following the traditional pageant format, contestants have several different rounds to prepare for. First, they have their opening number, which is where they come out and introduce themselves, followed by swimsuit, talent and formal — which is their final number.
With the amount of preparation required, Hines said it’s important to realize the amount of hours you have in a day and make the most of your time.
“Just the little fifteen minutes I have for me to go to work I’ll say my introduction speech in the car, just so it’ll help me memorize it so I’m not looking at my notes in practice,” she said.
For Gadson, the pageant is about more than just competing for the title, it’s about building lasting bonds within a sisterhood.
“Black and Gold means getting to represent strong, intelligent and driven women of color at the K-State community,” she said.
When discussing what Black and Gold meant to her, Hawkins referenced a quote from one of her idols, actress and activist, Ruby Dee.
“Ruby Dee, once said, ‘The kind of beauty I want is the hard to get kind — that comes from within courage, strength and dignity,'” Hawkins said. “That’s what Black and Gold means to me — courage, strength and dignity — the beauty that is hard to get.”
Hines said, the title of Black and Gold represents sisters of success, and that just reminds her of how much time she invested in bettering herself and building a relationship with her competitors.
With the competition just days away, Gadson said as long as she gives it her best shot and maintains her integrity through the process, she would be happy.
“I’ve made some amazing friends, and that’s the most important thing,” she said.
Hines said participating in the pageant and talking and performing in front of so many people is a confidence booster for her.
expecting to be recognized by unknown faces after the pageant for my
participation in the pageant,” Hines said. “Just to open the experience from me being
in school by networking.”
Tickets can be purchased from Miss Black and Gold pageant contestants for $10. The event will be held Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. in the K-State Student Union.