Students, faculty and staff of all races danced and dined together after first sitting at "Whites Only" and "Coloreds Only" tables at the Black and White Ball on Feb. 9. The goal of the event was to show how far society has come since the days of segregation.
The theme for the evening was "Coming of Age: Respecting Differences and the Power of Unity." The ball was designed to commemorate the life of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "The event is a reflection of the 1960s of where we have come from, where we are today and where we are headed," said Maiyah Gamble-Rivers, who coordinated the event.
The ball was co-sponsored by several Eastern organizations, including the Campus Activity Board (CAB), the Women's Center, the Intercultural Center, the Center for Community Engagement, and the Office of Housing and Residential Life. Black and White Ball committee members included Alisha Benitez (Women's Center), Derwin Hill (Housing and Residential Life), Kristina Scherber and Brittany Cava (Center for Community Engagement), Lauren Hopper (CAB) and Michael Piña (Intercultural Center).
History Professor Stacey Close, who is currently serving as an American Council of Education Fellow at Wesleyan University, was the keynote speaker. He cited Eastern's role in helping to break down Jim Crow racial barriers in higher education in the hiring of Juliette Bursterman in 1948, years before the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education ruling ending segregation in 1954. Bursterman was the first African American college professor in Connecticut, and remained at Eastern until her retirement in 1974.