UTSA Black Heritage Banquet inspires students, faculty, staff and friends

event participants

Attendees at the UTSA Black Heritage Banquet

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(March 7, 2013) -- More than 290 UTSA students, faculty and staff and community members attended the 2013 Black Heritage Banquet on Feb. 28. Sponsored by the Inclusion and Community Engagement Center, the event celebrated the conclusion of UTSA Black History Month, which included more than 15 programs throughout the month.

"It is great that the Black Heritage Banquet has been restored at UTSA after a two-year absence," said Alika Carter, who will serve on the 2014 Black History Month planning committee. "There could have been no better way to end Black History Month. The entire experience was wonderful, and I cannot wait for next year's banquet, because I can only imagine how great it will be."

Marc Lamont Hill, associate professor of education at Teachers College at Columbia University and host of the nationally syndicated television show "Our World With Black Enterprise," served as the keynote speaker for the event. Quoting Frantz Fanon's address to the Second Congress of Black Writers, "Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it," Hill encouraged students to define the mission of their generation, live up to it and lift every voice in doing so.

"The keynote address from Dr. Marc Lamont Hill was very enlivening; he was very passionate in explaining the importance of keeping African-American History alive," said Jovanna Castaneda. "It was exciting to see the amount of students and staff that came together to celebrate Black and African-American History. After being a participant of the Black Knowledge Bowl and attending the Black Heritage Banquet, I have been inspired to learn more about Black and African-American Heritage and its historical roots."

Janet Oyeteju was honored as the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Black Student Leadership Award. In 2012, Oyeteju completed more than 60 hours of service to the community in various programs and projects and serves with the Big Brother/Big Sister organization and as a mentor in the UTSA Roadrunner Connections program.

"The banquet was phenomenal," said Marcheta Evans, associate dean of the College of Education and Human Development. "The interactions, the poetry, the dance and the keynote speaker were all great, and the students were excited to be a part of it. There was a great mix of students, faculty, staff and community members, and it was great to see community members so interested in what our students are doing."

Evans was honored by several student leaders for her mentorship to UTSA students and leadership within the UTSA community.

"Being honored by our students reminded me of why I am here in the first place," Evans said. "Getting to know students as individuals and knowing their stories and showing them that they matter is really important to me. As faculty members, it's important to become mentors, supporters and sponsors of our students. They need to know that we really care about them, and that's what I try to do."

"The Black Heritage Banquet would not have been possible without the generosity of many of our partners on campus," said Yvonne Peña, assistant dean of students. "We appreciate the remarkable support shown by the University Center, African-American Studies, Student Leadership Center, Housing and Residence Life, and the Office of the Associate Dean of Students and their commitment to restoring a campus tradition and creating a more vibrant and inclusive UTSA."