Awards spotlight minority excellence

On Thursday night as part of a nationwide celebration of NAACP week, the Northern Kentucky University chapter of the NAACP hosted its third annual Image Awards in the Student Union Ballroom. The theme for this year’s ceremony was “Building on Our Future, Reflecting on Our Past.”

Deborah Strahorn, coordinator for NKU’s African American Student Affairs was the emcee for the event. She said the event was created as a way of honoring minority students and faculty “who have demonstrated excellence in the aspects of education, leadership and community.”

During the two-hour long event, the crowd was entertained and enlightened by students from the NAACP chapter. One moment in particular included a poem written by senior Terrence McCrady titled “Everything Happens for a Reason,” in which McCrady made a reference to the murder of Trayvon Martin. The crowd was also treated with musical performances by students Danielle Lauderdale and Taylor Staples.

NKU student Christopher Walters, recipient of the Barack Obama Social Justice Award, said during his acceptance speech that the NAACP has changed him, and he encouraged the audience to join the NAACP as a way of doing something for the community.

“I joined the NAACP because I wanted to become more empowered and more involved with my community,” Walters said. “I encourage all of you who have the heart and the willingness to do some for the community to join.”

A touching moment occurred when NKU senior and NAACP Student President Yunina Barbour-Payne stepped to the stage and paid tribute to all of the award winners and guests in attendance.
“I am so humbled, so happy, so proud, so blessed to have everybody in this room,” Payne said, “not only for our members of the NAACP, but to the faculty, teachers and students who have supported us in and out of the classroom and this university.”

Payne also honored members of the student affairs, including advisor Dannie Moore, assistant director Tracy Stokes and Strahorn. Payne grew emotional when she spoke about student affairs’ administrative assistant Gloria Golden. “This woman has been my rock throughout my time here,” Payne said as she fought back tears.

NAACP Vice President Nina Slaughter presented Payne with a thank-you card for all she has done with the organization and expressed her sadness for Payne’s pending graduation in May. “I don’t know what I’m going to do next semester, next year,” Slaughter told the audience.

The awards show concluded with Strahorn imparting the message to the crowd that she hopes the audience will leave the Image Awards feeling informed and wanting to do something for both NKU and the Northern Kentucky community.

“You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been,” Strahorn said.