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BSA holds second consecutive Black Ball

Event honors students with NAACP image awards

<p>Students mingle at the second consecutive Black Ball, benefitting the Black Ball scholarship fund.&nbsp;</p>

Students mingle at the second consecutive Black Ball, benefitting the Black Ball scholarship fund. 

Saturday, Feb. 13 was a big day for students of the Black Student Alliance, as their hard work culminated in the second consecutive Black Ball — a formal celebration of past and present black student achievement at the University.

“Black Ball is a black tie optional, formal event,” Khadijah Vasser, third-year College student and Chair of Black Ball planning committee, said.

The first part of the event was a mingling hour, where students had the opportunity to have their photos taken and listen to a live jazz performance. Following were the NAACP Image Awards, which recognized outstanding African-American students. The awards given out included outstanding student athlete, outstanding first-year, outstanding mentor and outstanding student leader.

“These awards are an important way to pay homage to students and their impact at U.Va. and recognize their leadership potential,” Vasser said.

Vasser became involved with Black Ball last year through her work on the BSA Finance Committee.

“I think working on the finance committee last year really made me passionate. I had never done anything with finance before, and it was a really big budget,” Vasser said. “I got closer with the BSA president, because we worked together doing finance things. Through that, I built a really strong relationship with her.”

This year, Vasser nurtured the collaborative spirit of Black Ball by training others in the event-planning process. She worked closely with first-year College student Alexis Artis, who also became involved with Black Ball through the BSA finance committee.

“Khadijah has guided me through this process by opening me up to new opportunities. She has been a great help of showing and telling me what to do with the finances and how to respond to certain occasions,” Artis said. “She has been a good example of what to follow if I wanted to maybe be in charge of Black Ball in the time to come.”

In addition to recognizing the accomplishments of current students, Black Ball provides opportunities for prospective students to attend the University.

“The proceeds [from the Ball] will go to our Black Ball scholarship fund,” Vasser said. “We're currently building the scholarship fund up still, but our goal is to award two to three Charlottesville [or] Albemarle County African-American high school students with $1,000 scholarships to U.Va. We gave one last year, and we hope to give another one this year.”

Last year marked Black Ball’s first year back at the University, but the event’s history dates much further into the past. In the 1970s, African-American students were unable to attend many of the social and formal events at the University, according to the Black Ball website.

While much has changed since Black Ball’s initial creation, it still has a significant impact on the University community.

“Events like Black Ball can help change the cultural climate by allowing people from different races to take part in something that seems so one race specific,” Artis said. “As more individuals that are of different backgrounds are brought together, those people learn and grow and in the future lead as an example of what and how we expect others to be.”