Black Ball event returns to campus

Students Association for Black Unity honor alumni at Black Ball event


Faith E. Pinho

Washington and Lee is a school known for its traditions and the Students Association for Black Unity revived an old one this past Saturday. Students, faculty and alumni came together to celebrate SABU’s Black Ball—an event that the W&L community hadn’t seen since the 1980s.

The Black Ball showcased live musical entertainment from Upscale Band, a soul and R&B ensemble from Roanoke, Virginia. Attendees enjoyed the music as well as delicious appetizers and drinks, courtesy of Evans Dining Hall.

SABU alumni from 1970-1985 were the honored guests and main attraction for the evening. Current SABU President Trevin Ivory ’16 recognized each of the past members and invited them on stage for pictures.

“Thank you for breaking the color barrier,” Ivory said to them during his short speech.

The 2015 Black Ball was designed to mirror the past events that SABU hosted in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

SABU 4-1Robert Ford, a journalism major at W&L from the class of 1974 served as SABU’s first chairman. He came to the Black Ball from Baltimore, Maryland.

“We didn’t have a lot of money,” Ford said, remembering past Black Balls. “When the ball was over, we took off our tuxedo jackets and cleaned [Evans].”

Ford said that the Black Ball was an alternative to Fancy Dress, a school-wide dance that traditionally takes place in March. In addition to W&L students, parents and students from other universities were invited to the Black Ball back then as well.

“We tried to make it a community event as well as a university event,” Eugene Perry ‘78L said.

Perry said that 90 percent of Black Ball attendees in the past were black. Ivory said that he wanted to promote the message of inclusivity for the Black Ball.

“I want this to go well just for the sake of…recognition across campus,” Ivory said. “And the message that anyone can come participate in our organization and not feel weird about it.”

SABU 2-1

Ivory also said he hopes that the Black Ball will be an opportunity to foster relationships between SABU alumni and current members.

“For the alums, I want them to make contact with the students who are here and just bestow their knowledge and experiences on us,” Ivory said.

Saturday afternoon, SABU alumni and current SABU members met for a luncheon sponsored by Alumni Affairs. President Ruscio and Provost Wubah were also in attendance for this lunch SABU alumni were eager to offer advice to current W&L students.

“Persevere, celebrate your differences and embrace where you are from, because it will benefit you in the future,” Reginald Wright ‘83L, from Raleigh, North Carolina, said.

The alumni all agreed on their favorite part of returning to W&L for the weekend.

“The best thing…is seeing the alumni and being able to talk with them and share experiences and getting respect for what we did at W&L,” Wright said.