This year marked the 50th Pan-Afrikan week at NC State, and the only way to end it off is with a bang. This year’s Black Student Board  (BSB) committee did just that. They hosted the Shades of Melanin Brunch and it was a huge success. With a great turnout, excellent decor and an exciting lineup of guest speakers and performers it was bound to be a great time.

The entire week had been filled with a total of 18 events to mark Pan-Af week and the Shades of Melanin Brunch was nothing short of phenomenal. The event started at noon and took place in the Talley State Ballroom. It began with a buffet breakfast accompanied by hot tea, coffee, and mocktails. The different flavors of mocktails seemed to be inspired by Black culture. There were two photo backdrops to be used for pictures of those dressed in shades of melanin. While people were eating there was a slideshow displaying the events that took place over the week. It was an endearing recap of the week, as well as confirmation of the great time the Black community has when we come together. It was also a reflection of all that can be accomplished with a great committee of people dedicated to showcasing and catering to Black people on campus.

The brunch had the dress code directions in the name. (Almost) Everyone in the room followed that direction and it led to a beautiful spectrum of shades of browns and beiges. Even people’s accent colors were neutral. The cohesiveness of the event led to an aesthetically pleasing and beautiful scene. Everyone was able to put their own personal style on display which added to the representation of the range that the students here possess. The two photo backdrops complimented every shade of melanin in the room. From sneakers to heels, everyone was dressed to impress. Sundress season is definitely upon us because they were making a prominent appearance. Long figure-hugging dresses paired with heels or sandals were a great choice for the brunch. There were also a lot of silky button-down collared shirts paired with sneakers or loafers to give off a cool and light vibe during the function. 

Small but bold purses and totes are in style and they were making an appearance. Purses and clutches in an array of blacks, browns, beiges, and tans flooded the room and were great table accessory pieces (because everyone knows not to put your purse on the floor).  There were also a lot of Telfar bags in the building and they were spotted front and center in the photo areas.

In my opinion, the fried fish and the Black barbie mocktail were the best food choice and drinks of the event. Paired together, they tasted even better. BSB along with RAVE did a great job of putting the event together and preparing all of the dining options.

There was a musical performance by the Uninhibited Praise Gospel Choir. The musical selection they chose made it feel like a Sunday morning in church. Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best being serenaded by the choir. 

The keynote speech was given by Bri Elum, M.S. Bri works in the Women’s Center here on campus and she delivered some uplifting words for the occasion. Her speech included an empowering acronym of the word melanin that touched many in the audience, recognized by the occasional snap and collective “period” echoed throughout the crowd. 

There were two spoken word performances, one by Ariana Frazier, a fourth-year Interdisciplinary Studies major and another by Jaz Bryant, a fourth-year Political Science major. They vocalized two powerful pieces with different, yet both equally important, messages. One about the beauty of being Black and the other about solidarity within the Black community. 

The spoken word was followed by a performance from NCSU Code Red. They had a performance during the Stroll off that took place earlier in the week and came back for an encore. They had a stomp and shake performance before they came into the crowd to swag surf. 

These events were followed by a party. The entire event was DJ’ed by DJ Trellz and he kept the event live the whole time.

There were also conversational topics given on the event program called Brown Table Talk. Some of the topics included Black pop culture fun questions and deeper questions that explored themes related to the Black experience. 

London Tolson, a fourth-year Technology, Engineering, and Design (TED) Education student enjoyed the event, saying, “The shades of melanin brunch was a fun experience and it was amazing to see so many Black students in one space together on campus. It was nice to have an informal social event where we could just enjoy each other’s company. I mostly enjoyed seeing all of the cute, brown-tone outfits. As well as the cute mocktail bar.”

Kaylah Wilson, a third-year student majoring in Zoology said, “I thoroughly enjoyed being able to go to an event and just be unapologetically black. It was comforting to be in a room full of individuals from all different backgrounds and feel like I was supposed to be there. The spoken word artists were phenomenal and it was nice to see black individuals rewarded for the hard work they put in to make Pan-Af week come to life. I could appreciate the mix of activities: being able to celebrate others, seeing individuals showcase their talents, having fun with other black individuals, and seeing so many beautiful outfits. The Shades of Melanin brunch, all in all, was a hit and did a wonderful job of bringing together the community.”

Overall this event was a great success. It was executed amazingly by the BSB Pan-African week committee. Hopefully, this event will be a recurring one, because it seems like a lot of people enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity for the students on campus to dress up and show off their fits for the occasion.