The brothers of the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, held their annual Miss Black and Gold Scholarship Pageant on September 21, 2009, crowning Kateria Poe as the 2009 Miss Black and Gold. Contestants competed in 4 categories: swimsuit, talent, evening wear, and a question and answer session. The seven contestants included NCSU students Melissa Young, Jasmine Stockton, Kendra Obimah, Kateria Poe, Naomi Drake, Mia Andrews, and Shakaela Webb. The women, adorning silver dresses to match the show’s “Ice Angels” theme, introduced themselves to audience members while performing an opening dance routine to “Halo,” by Beyonce. “This is something that we do annually to provide both scholarship money and a venue for African American women on campus to show their intelligence, confidence, and beauty,” said Christopher Webley, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

The swim suit contest was the first portion of the show, and many of the contestants wore one piece suits in colors ranging from electric red to pure white. Contestants were able to showcase their creative side in the talent competition. Contestant one, Melissa Young, exhibited her vocal range by singing “Super Woman,” by Alicia Keys. Contestant two, Jasmine Stockton, performed a hip hop dance routine to “Radio” by Beyonce, which showed off her flexibility and versatility in rhythmic movement. Contestant three, Kendra Obimah, performed an African cultural dance in traditional African attire, gaining a large applause from the crowd with her “dutty wine.” Contestant four, Kateria Poe, brought the audience to its feet as she recited a powerful self-written poem entitled, “Strong Black Woman No Longer,” with the purpose of encouraging young black women to defy the stereotypes of a strong black woman and create new, more positive ones for themselves. Contestant four, Naomi Drake, demonstrated her passion for her marching band as she performed a very unique drum major routine, surprising the audience with a backbend all the way down to the floor. Wearing an all black leotard, contestant six, Mia Andrews, performed an emotional lyrical dance routine to Sara Bareille’s “Gravity.” Contestant seven, Shakaela Webb, remixed a favorite poem of many, Langston Hughes’ “Dream Deferred,” by letting the audience know about her dream to become a doctor.

Throughout the competition there were various student performances. Rakita Henry and Marquis McCullough wowed the crowded, opening the show with the singing of the Negro National Anthem. Janice Cooley delivered her poem, “Black Before I Knew It,” which discussed the struggles of being labeled as “Black” in America. A local up and coming artist known as M-Bass sang a self-written song dedicated to the beauty and strength of black women. An NCCU and former NCSU student, Heather Gavin, left the audience in awe of her vocal skills as she sang her rendition of “At Last,” by Etta James. In addition, NC State’s very own Black Finesse Modeling Troupe wrapped up the performances as they strutted around the room in all black attire, with a performance one could only describe as futuristic, grabbing the audience’s attention with triple spins and lifts on stage.

One of the major deciding factors in choosing the competition winner was the portion of the show when the contestants came out in their evening gowns and answered questions, which gave both judges and audience members a closer look at the enthusiasm, poise, and intelligence of the women. Questions ranged from ways in which the winner plans to benefit the African American community with her crown to the contestant’s opinion on universal healthcare. According to Judge Courtney Simpson, this is the portion of the show that helped determine her vote for Poe. “Overall, all the contestants did a wonderful job…One thing that stood out for me when judging Ms. Poe was the passion that she has for her school, her community, and herself,” said Simpson. “As Miss Black and Gold, her passion can help push the community to another level.”

Contestants waited anxiously as the results were read by hosts April Gaddy, crowned Miss Eta Omicron in 2008, and Kornelius Bascombe, a member of Eta Omicron. Naomi Drake was awarded the third place trophy and crowned “Miss 1971,” representing the year Eta Omicron was chartered.  The runner-up position, given the title “Miss Eta Omicron,” was awarded to Mia Andrews, and the coveted “Miss Black and Gold” crown was presented to Kateria Poe.

“I was confident that I could positively represent Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated,” said Poe. In the future, she plans to use her crown to highlight obstacles she feels the black community faces at NC State University and worldwide by hosting her own program with the brothers of Eta Omicron. The next step for Poe is to compete in the Miss Black and Gold district competition held in Durham, NC, and she hopes to bring another crown back home. Poe states, “I look forward to competing, and until then, I will be perfecting my speech, talent, and overall stage presence.”

– Crystal Clark