The Black Student Union (BSU) hosted its annual Harvest Ball: Natural Blessings at Montclair State University on Nov. 20. The event was held in honor of Black culture, and to give students the opportunity to decompress during the stressful time that the end of the semester brings.
The night began with hosts, Na’Dree Stewart, a senior anthropology major and the president of Daughta Speaks, alongside Sofi Nyaanga, a junior psychology major and the president of Ladies First. Stewart and Nyaanga introduced the executive board one by one as they walked down the aisle.
The Black National Anthem was then sung by Kayla Harris, the event coordinator of BSU and a sophomore educational foundations for elementary teachers major. Eyv Matthews, the president of BSU and a sophomore psychology major, then recited a speech explaining how grateful she is to be part of an organization where she can be herself, and explaining how BSU turned from friends to family.
“Starting out at Montclair State last year I felt unfulfilled,” Matthews said. “I was simply going to class, work [and] back to my dorm. But I wanted more than that. I wanted a community I could count on. And I wanted to leave this campus better than I had found it. I wanted to find a network of Black students who I was able to relate to. I’m extremely thankful for the community that I have found.”
Following Matthews’ speech, Fatoumata Amar, BSU’s previous vice president in 2022 and Montclair State alum, recited “Love Letter,” a powerful poem about her “Black King,” also known as her future husband.
The crowd was in complete awe of how Amar was able to talk about her future husband through such powerful words. The hosts then spotted different people who would qualify for a best-dressed contest. Whoever received the most applause from the crowd won.
After the best-dressed contest, Jasmine Jackson, BSU’s previous public relations chair and a Montclair State alum, performed her own song, “New Blessing.”
She explains this song is “for anyone stepping into their new self-esteem, understanding who they are, and finally figuring out what [they’re] supposed to be in life.”
As the night came to a close, people ate and listened to a sermon from Reverend Glenmore Bembry, the previous treasurer of BSU of 1978, motivating Black leaders of the future.
“If you have a vision for yourself, and you know that you can do something, you can achieve anything,” Bembry said. “Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t.”
To honor the night, Tommiana, a junior fashion studies major, gave a toast, giving thanks to the BSU executive board.
“Let them question why you do the things you do, while you do the things you do,” Tommiana said. “Have respect for your family, have respect for your friends, but most importantly have respect for yourself. And on top of that love yourself, because if you don’t do it, no one else will. I would like to give a toast to mastering it, to dreams and to Black success.”
The night ended with people dancing on the stage to Afrobeats, R&B music and a few TikTok sounds.
Ike Onyegbule, a junior business administration major and the executive assistant of BSU, said the event exceeded his expectations
“One of our purposes was really to reach out to the campus community and celebrate Black excellence,” Onyegbule said. “It’s important to appreciate the Black students we have on our campus because I don’t think we get that enough. I encourage people to come out because we need more Black representation on campus.”
Onyegbule further explained how Harvest Ball is something that is held for students to “celebrate a great semester, the year, counting your blessings, and everything that has been granted to us.”
Harris explained that the meaning behind the name “Harvest Ball” is bringing in the new year and becoming a new version of yourself. She hoped people felt “rejuvenated” because the end of the semester can be stressful.
“I know [that with] the coming of finals at the end of the semester, people may be feeling run down, but I hope that this event brings people back to life,” Harris said.
To expand on what her fellow e-board members had said, Matthews explained with this event she wanted people to relax as the semester comes to an end, at a time when it feels like you’re moving nonstop. She was happy with what she and her executive board have worked hard on.
“I think it’s important to take time to practice mindfulness and to be thankful for your surroundings and the people who you celebrate with,” Matthews said. “Being part of the e-board, sometimes it’s important to just take a moment and breathe. We also just wanted to bring Black excellence, Black joy, and just being able to enjoy each other’s company and decompress.”
BSU holds its meetings every Tuesday from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. and encourages all to attend.