Black Women Task Force to honor empowered women on campus

By Clair Cowley, Staff Writer

Women of color are being nominated to receive recognition for their impacts on the university in an annual award ceremony called Black Girl Rock, Shades of Beauty on Feb. 28.

The ceremony will be held in the Student Center Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. by Black Women Task Force.

Three years ago, BWTF created the event to recognize not only teachers and staff but also university students.


BWTF President Mykhal Suide said former President Taylor Johnson founded the idea of celebrating black women and the group has continued it.

“If we get more people to come out and embrace black women on this campus, and say ‘hey we’re here, this is the talent we have, what jobs we hold,’” Suide said.

Black Girls Rock has two groups of participants. The first group is for participants who auditioned to perform and would like to perform in the ceremony.

The second is for people that were nominated, which automatically earns them an award.

“We want people to know about the women on this campus. They’re not necessarily a lot of us, so we need to show love,” Suide said. “That’s why we’re doing shades of beauty. We’re trying to have as many different shades of minority [represented] there…So we can show them appreciation as well as black women.”

“University students can be exposed to empowered women who promote being strong and successful in what they do,” Suide said.

BWTF Historian Kala Toliver said President of Project Love, a community project, Saivia McDaniel was nominated for being most involved in community service on campus and being a continuous leader for her organization.


McDaniel started Project Love in her first year of high school at Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory in St. Louis.

Project Love has been on SIU’s campus for about a year and a half now.

“When I first started it, its name was love blankets. We would just distribute blankets that were hand-stitched and a small group, myself, two friends and two of my cousins would visit nursing homes and hand them out that way,” McDaniel said.

After her mother became sick and money became tight, McDaniel stopped serving her community.

But, when she came to college and saw a need at SIU for people to be more active in the community she said she felt like Project Love could be brought back.

“I think it’s important for incoming freshmen and sophomores to know that it’s never too early to get involved on campus and the community. That’s why we’re starting to target and market to more freshmen, so that can be something they do throughout their college career,” McDaniel said.

Jessena Fields is also nominated for being an entrepreneur that owns her own beauty service business, Sena Selections, that sells eyelashes, sunglasses and bundles of hair extensions.

“It actually feels pretty good to see that people think about me when it comes to the business aspect,” Fields said.

When one has a vision, they must stick to it Fields said.

“Not everything works the first go round. I have fallen down so many times, but I know this is what I want and will get it. You have to spend money to make money, so don’t be afraid to invest in yourself,” Fields said.

She said a quote she lives by is, “Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game,” by Babe Ruth.

Staff writer Clair Cowley can be reached at [email protected].

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