‘Black Pride, Black Strength’ celebrated


“Black Pride. Black Strength” was the theme of the sixth annual Black Heritage Ball that took place on Saturday Feb. 27 in the UC Ballroom.

The event featured a speech by Acting General Manager for CPS, Jelynne Burley, beginning her speech with a joke: “I am the only thing standing between you and the DJ, so I am going to be brief and hopefully aspiring.”

Her speech consisted of two stories about the two most influential women in her life-her grandmother and mother.

Her grandmother, Rosalie Daste, always used to tell her, “Always do your best and don’t embarrass me.”

“In 1953, before Martin Luther King had a dream, Baton Rouge had its first bus boycott and my grandmother was a big part of it,” Burley said.

She talked about the lessons of self-determination that Daste taught her. She transitioned into a story twenty years later about her mother being the second female African-American lawyer to be accepted to the Louisiana Bar Association.

“My mother gave me the bug for public life and taught me that hard work doesn’t always guarantee success, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best,” Burley said.

Her speech ended with the quote, “Service is the price you pay for the space you occupy.”

Following the speech three students were awarded the Black Student Leadership Award. They were Brenda Anyaehie, Damaris Gutierrez and Christian Menefee.

Marlon Anderson, director of the Inclusion and Community Engagement Center (ICE), said that the ball is a way to culminate Black History Month.

“It costs about $23 per meal. The student pays $10, and we subsidize the rest,” Anderson said.

Dr. Gaige Paine said that the best thing about events like this is that it brings a sense of community to UTSA.

“We come together to learn about each other,” Paine said.

Dr. Sonja L. Lanehart, professor and Brackenridge Endowed Chair in Literature and the Humanities, was happy to see everyone gather together, but expressed concern that there was not enough equity in the race of faculty and administration.

“We are getting there, but we aren’t quite there yet. We have roughly 20 African-American faculty members and virtually no representation in the (UTSA) administration,” Lanehart said.

Following dinner, speeches and awards, Ballroom II was opened revealing a dance floor and DJ.