UM’s NAACP chapter holds first-ever NAACP Image Awards on-campus

Students gathering around for the introduction of the 2022 NAACP Image Awards. Photo credit: Caroline Val

On April 6, the red carpet rolled out for a unique version of the NAACP Image Awards held by UMiami’s NAACP chapter for the first time in UMiami’s history.

Many students of color were celebrated by their peers and loved ones at the East Shalala Ballroom.

Students gathering around for the introduction of the 2022 NAACP Image Awards.
Students gathering around for the introduction of the 2022 NAACP Image Awards. Photo credit: Caroline Val

“We were not expecting this great feedback and turnout that we’ve been getting,” said Jordan Motley, a senior majoring in sports administration and public relations and VP of the UM NAACP.

“We just want to honor different students from all different areas on campus, from creatives to scholars, to leaders, to student organizations on campus and bring them together into this one event,” Motley continued.

The event was complete with a photo backdrop, a banquet of finger food, light refreshments and a 360° spinning photo booth.

Everyone wore semi-formal attire and musical hits by prominent black and brown artists played throughout the show.

Founded in 2019, the university’s NAACP chapter has had limited capability with establishing an in-person presence given its emergence right before the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, since Charis Pitter, a senior studying political science and public administration and Motley ran for NAACP president and vice president, they held the idea of bringing the NAACP Image Awards to UM central to their campaign.

“This was one of the major events that I ran on because I thought it would be great if we had a for our organization,” Pitter said.

“It was really just more about recognizing students of color. We have a lot of award shows already on campus, but I think a lot of them aren’t geared to recognizing people from different spheres of fields, so we wanted to recognize people from all areas,” Pitter continued.

Each nomination was carefully chosen by the chapter’s executive board as a means of highlighting the unique achievements of students and groups at UM. Some awards were also named after prominent UM figures.

These included the Harold Long, Jr. Activist of the Year Award, celebrating the ‘68 and ‘71 alumnus who founded United Black Students and the Dr. Renée Dickens Callan Women’s Empowerment Award, honoring the current assistant VP of student life and the impact of her work with other women of color at UM.

Another included the Roland Woods, Jr. Creative of the Year award, celebrating the man who founded the Miami Black Arts Council in 1969 and also in attendance on Wednesday evening.

“I’m just as excited about the turnout that we have, but also about the energy of people who have nominated their friends and all the work that students have been doing on campus,” said Nhadya Lawes, the NAACP chair of the general body and a senior studying english literature.

“My excitement is to see people honored and who wins and I feel like it’s gonna be a great night,” Lawes continued.

Presenters also included UM faculty members, prominent leaders of color in their respective industries and the original founders of the UM NAACP chapter.

Recipients were chosen based on a popular vote by their fellow peers and the voting forms were available through the UM NAACP’s Instagram page.

Several student performers also displayed their talents throughout the program, including the Hammond-Butler Gospel Choir who opened the event.

For those interested in taking part in the new annual ceremony, chances are there is much more to expect in the years to come.

“We were definitely using this year as a test to see what the interest was,” Pitter said.

“It seems like we’ve had a lot of really high interest; we’ve added extra chairs tonight because the RSVP is just through the roof. I think it’s going to be a great event and something we’ll be able to keep in the future,” Pitter continued.