Photo by Alexis House / Contributing Photographer
Story by Shorin Estell / Contributing Writer and Marissa Gaston / Lifestyles Editor
Students and community members packed in the Student Union ballroom Friday night for MTSU’s first annual Black History Month fashion show, “Color of the Runway,” which was completely conceptualized and organized by a team of students headed up by MTSU sophomore BréYhana Johnson.
“As a freshman, I didn’t really know my history,” says Johnson about what inspired her to create the event. “As I began to learn about it, it really opened my eyes, and it helped me to get more in tune with myself so I figured everyone should have that opportunity as well.”
Johnson also said that the show helped her to merge two passions together into one: fashion and black history.
Going back as far as 1865 when slavery was abolished after the 13th Amendment was ratified into the Constitution, the fashion show showcased fashion looks that dominated black culture throughout the decades leading up until today.
Before each decade hit the runway, the emcees talked about the influences and growth that pervaded black culture during those times.
The show began with Samuel King’s poem, “What I Wasn’t Taught in School.” King’s powerful speech fell heavy over a quiet room, with the exception of the occasional “Mmm” of agreement. The poem set the tone of the night and gave attendees a peek at what was in store.
Next, Charity Cole and Hannah McKinney delivered a powerful and moving rendition of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The room united under the melody of the girls’ voices.
Lúso Chithambo and Debria Tyler, the poetry duo better known as “Soul Fools,” delivered poems throughout the night, covering subject matter from black culture, the beauty of black women and police brutality, that took the room by storm. Tyler even pulled double-duty, modeling ’50s attire as she delivered a poem about black youth.
“When I hit the stage I instantly knew that we would need cough drops after the show because of the size of the crowd, but mostly I was hoping that people would actually get the message,” says Chithambo.
Members of MTSU Performing Arts Company also introduced the eras with dance routines to the times’ biggest hits, such as Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” for the ’80s and New Edition’s “Poison” for the ’90s, managing intricate choreography on the small runway and hyping up the crowd.
However, the models and performers onstage weren’t grabbing all the attention. Attendees arrived at the fashion show, modeling their own unique looks. They were greeted by red carpet correspondents from MT10, Bruceann Owen and Mares Burke, who asked them about their outfits, personal style inspiration and what they were looking forward to seeing in the show.
“I’m wearing a silk rose gold trench with an all-black lace up body suit from Nordstrom,” explains Danielle Bowden about what she was wearing. She joked that she got her outfit during New York Fashion Week. Her friend Zaria Walker said that she was “balling on a budget.”
Walker looked great in her outfit that she said she got from Agaci and Charlotte Russe.
At the end of the night, Johnson took the stage with her co-coordinators to thank the crowd for their support and attendance. Before anyone was free to go, though, she held up her phone and asked the crowd to tell her Snapchat followers, in unison, that they should’ve been there.
See below for a full photo recap of “Color of the Runway.” Click on any one photo to open the gallery.