Pageants a vital part of the culture at HBCUs

If you are on the campus of Florida A&M University, you are no stranger to pageantry.

It’s an aspect of campus life that we have become accustomed to.

Fresh off spring break, this is the time when most Famuans relax, knowing they have come to the end of pageant season on campus.

From January to the early part of March, organizations start the search for their courts. They post flyers of interest meetings for women and men to run for “Mr. or Misses” along with the two or three runner ups that didn’t quite get the gold but whose pageant performance still qualified as exemplary.

“Pageant life has become a staple in the FAMU community. There are now pageants and positions for almost all organizations on campus,” said Darias Bowers, a political science major at FAMU.

The pageant bug may be an activity that Famuans love, but it may not be solely confined to the home of the Rattlers. Maybe it’s an HBCU thing.

Hampton University student Janai McKissick shares what she observed from pageants on her campus. “There are a lot of pageants at Hampton, most of the pageants are for the fraternities and the nniversity ‘Misses,’ ” said McKissick.

It’s no secret that pageants are a great form of entertainment to those who are watching, but what about those who are participating?

“It’s a way of putting yourself out there … letting the campus know who you are and what you plan on doing throughout your academic career,” said Kayla Gallego, former FAMU freshman attendant.

Onlookers see the beautiful dresses, pretty white smiles and hear the doctored responses. These very attributes have turned pageant loathers away since its genesis.

People want to know who the real contestant is. Are you here for the responsibility or the recognition? Maybe it’s neither. Maybe the contestant may just be trying something new.

“Preparing for a pageant is fun and stressful at the same time, especially if it’s your first time. I love to compete not just to win but it’s a very encouraging atmosphere to be amongst women with bright futures,” said Gallego.

Yes, pageants are wonderful for those who win and those who watch. But could they bring together a university?

“HBCUs have a unique way of involving their campuses in pageants, allowing their students to play a significant role in helping their peers through events, campaigns, social media outreach, and many other projects and outlets of support,”  McKissick said.

As FAMU pageant season comes to an end, maybe we should view it differently in the spring of 2019.

Some may be annoyed by the many pageants that their friends and peers are involved in. But that may be the time to show your support for the pageant culture in which HBCUs are extremely proud.

Take that time to view the future leaders of your campus and possibly learn a thing or two about what pageant life looks like.

Although people use pageants just to be seen, often they are meant to be a positive representation of your HBCU.