Celebrating Unity and Diversity: The Ebony Ball Under a “Starry Night”

February 20, 2024
Students pose during the 2024 Ebony Ball at WPU.

William Peace University’s vibrant campus came alive on Friday, February 16, as the Black Student Union (BSU) hosted the much-anticipated Ebony Ball. 

This annual event, now in its third year, has become a cornerstone in fostering unity, celebrating diversity, and creating a sense of community among WPU students during Black History Month.

Inclusivity at the Heart of Ebony Ball

Sophomore TJ Hill-Johnson, president of the BSU, highlighted the student organization’s commitment to inclusivity, making it a focal point of the annual Ebony Ball. 

“The BSU actively makes an effort to show the excellence and inclusion of the Black community at WPU. One of, if not the biggest, exemplifications of our efforts is the Ebony Ball,” says Hill-Johnson.

“When planning Ebony Ball, one of the very first things we do is ensure that there aren’t unnecessary parameters around who can and can’t attend. The last thing we want to do is be divisive, so to avoid that, we invite everyone within the WPU community and neighboring universities,” they explained. 

This intentional approach ensures that the Ebony Ball remains an inclusive and representative event for all members of the campus community.

The Essence and Evolution of Ebony Ball

“The first Ebony Ball started in 2019 as an opportunity to provide a space where Black students were able to be their authentic selves and celebrate Blackness and unity,” said Anthony Holloman, BSU Advisor.

Since then, the event has evolved into one of the largest student-attended gatherings at WPU, with a growing number of non-Black students participating each year.

Each year the Ebony Ball follows a theme, and this year’s “Starry Night” theme, inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s iconic painting, added a touch of elegance to the dazzling event held in the Main Parlor on campus. 

The event’s free admission encourages widespread participation, emphasizing the BSU’s commitment to making the Ebony Ball accessible to all.

More Than a Party: A Celebration of Black Excellence

As the vibrant lights and lively music of Ebony Ball fill the air, it becomes more than just a night of celebration—it aims to showcase the excellence and inclusion of the Black community at WPU

“The event highlights the importance and impact that Black students have at WPU and how important it is that Black students have spaces where they can unite and create a sense of community,” Holloman said. 

It’s not merely a party but a deliberate effort to create an environment where students can be themselves, fostering “fellowship and fun with the hope that their positive experience at Ebony will influence them to become more involved with the organization and help create change on campus,” Holloman said.

Sophomore Elisha Thomas, BSU Communications and Marketing Coordinator echoes this sentiment, underlining the essence of Ebony Ball as a celebration for all students. 

“This is really a celebration. We come together, we have fun. We party. This is just an overall party invited to all students on campus for the fun and blessing of the Black community,” Thomas said. 

The Ebony Ball serves as both entertainment and education, showcasing the ongoing success of BSU and laying the foundation for future achievements. 

“BSU utilizes Ebony Ball as not only a form of entertainment but also a form of education that shows how truly successful BSU is and how successful BSU will be down the line,” Hill-Johnson said. 

In this way, the event embodies the multifaceted mission of the BSU, blending celebration, education, and community-building into a night that resonates far beyond the dance floor.

A Campus-Wide Invitation

“The Ebony Ball is for everyone on campus. It’s not just a Black student thing or people of color thing. Any person can come,” Thomas said in a final call for unity and inclusion. 

As the Ebony Ball continues to evolve and leave its mark on the WPU campus, it shows how student-led initiatives can contribute to building a sense of community, celebrating diversity, and fostering unity. 

“We invite everyone to attend our meetings and events and to learn more about the Black experience at WPU and around the world. The Ebony Ball event showcases this sense of inclusivity the most,” Holloman said.

To learn more about upcoming events hosted by the BSU, visit Pacer Engage and join one of their club meetings.