Laughter and cheers turned to protesting groans as Idris Olayokun teased the crowd with pause after pause before announcing Miss Black and Gold 2013.

On Saturday, Feb. 16, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity held its 12th annual Miss Black and Gold Pageant in celebration of Black History Month. The formal event is the fraternity’s main one of the spring and takes a full semester to plan, according to Andrew Bertram, president of Stony Brook University’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter, Rho Rho. The pageant is also an important tradition within the fraternity because the fraternity requires its chapters to stay active.

Just two points separated Miss Gold from Miss Black and Gold this year. Odmar Belgrave, father of contestant Quamina Coretta Belgrave, a junior multidisciplinary studies major, and his wife burst out of their seats hollering “my baby, that’s my baby,” and applauded their daughter, who won Miss Gold, the pageant’s second place prize.

“Three! Number three!” shouted the crowd from every direction, referring to contestant number three, Julissa Hall, whose spoken word performance blew the room away. By first drawing the crowd into a false sense of security with her rendition of Chrisette Michele’s “Mr. Radio,” Hall pounced on her lulled audience.

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“It was supposed to be an intimate moment. But then, he threw me against the wall and choked me!” Hall wailed, as she poetically recited the tale of a woman whose abusive lover eventually kills her. The crowd gasped at the revelation. “Males. Females. Young and old, wake up! Because it’s real,” warned Hall before departing to standing ovations.

One man moved by Hall wiped a tear from his eye as his date snuggled against him.

Olayokun announced Hall as Miss Black and Gold 2013. Sophomore biology major Natalie Fordjour won Miss Black, the third place prize. The two remaining contestants, Catherine Toletina and Esther Lauren Mutolo, left having shown their leadership skills and gaining new friends from among the other contestants, according to Bertram.

Hall was presented with the titular black and gold colored sash, a trophy and advancement to the regional pageant. The winner and two runner-ups also received a scholarship—the amount of which had not yet been decided—according to Lindsay Wyatt Jr., one of the fraternity brothers. The potential scholarship is stressed by the judges and therefore, the most points were awarded for a good GPA, according to Bertram.

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The theme of the pageant was ‘Cinderella,’ but each contestant stood for female empowerment.

“This contradicting world is troubling me. Society wants something I cannot be,” recited Esther Lauren Mutolo. “But I refuse … this world needs a woman, and that’s what I’m gonna be.”

The pageant consists of an introduction speech, swimwear portion, talent portion and a Q-and-A portion. In between each, an improvisational skit would be performed by Olayokun, who, fitting with the theme, played a king complete with a crown.

Outside the ballroom, Ian and Mercedes Hall awaited their daughter. Asked if she will be rewarded for winning, Mr. Hall joked, “Her tuition costs,” which elicited laughter. “She has plenty of love—the best gift of all.”

After an extensive photo shoot by attendees, Hall, a clinical laboratory sciences major, strolled out to her parents. Hall began singing at church choir in Barbados and said she practiced five to six hours daily since December.

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The difficult part for her was not talent. “Walking in heels that long—it was horrible,” Hall, who had at that point changed into slippers, said, wincing.

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