BlackOut: Enchanted Gala Transforms Trinity College into a Magical Night

Cornelia Ehlebracht ’25

News Editor

Trinity College’s Imani Black Student Union (BSU) took center stage on Friday, March 22, 2024, as they hosted their highly anticipated event, the “BlackOut: Enchanted Gala.” The BlackOut: Enchanted Gala was a black-tie affair that aimed to celebrate and uplift Black culture, while also providing a space for students to come together and create lasting memories. The event allowed students to showcase their fashion and style, as the black-tie dress code added an air of sophistication to the event and attendees arrived in their finest attire. As guests entered the Washington Room, they were transported into a fairytale. The night was nothing short of magical, meticulous attention to detail was evident in every aspect of the event ensuring that attendees felt immersed in a truly enchanting experience. The venue was adorned with stunning floral arrangements tastefully intertwined throughout the room. The lighting was deliberately subdued, casting a soft glow and creating an intimate ambiance that perfectly complemented the theme, accented by a rich color palette of pink, emerald, blues, and greens.

The highlight of the evening was a captivating performance by the renowned and accomplished artist, Frank E. Brady. Frank E. Brady is not only an Award-Winning Poet, but also an esteemed Educational Consultant and a passionate Mental Health Advocate. According to his website, frankebrady.com, his talent has been recognized and showcased on various esteemed platforms such as BET, Soultrain.com, The Source Hip-Hop Magazine, and most recently, ABC Networks. In addition to his impressive artistic endeavors, Frank E. Brady has an unwavering commitment to the growth and development of young individuals. As a former High School Teacher, he possesses a deep passion for promoting literacy and nurturing social-emotional development among students. His mission is to “use his God-given gifts to inspire & impact people dealing with adversity”. During an in-person interview at the event, Frank E. Brady shared his personal journey, highlighting his transition from a former high school teacher to fully immersing himself in the realm of poetry and music. Reflecting on his early exposure to the art form, he revealed, “I got into poetry and performance when I was 17. My mother is a poet, and I grew up watching her practice her craft. As I grew older, I realized that poetry is a language that people can understand and communicate with.” For Brady, poetry and performance hold profound significance. He emphasized that poetry serves as a vehicle for connecting with others. He firmly believes that everyone possesses a unique story, and sharing that story can have a positive impact on yourself and those around you. He affirms, “It’s about self-expression, being able to connect with people. Everybody has a story, and when you tell your story, it’s great for mental health and overall wellness.” To ensure his performances remain relevant and engaging, Brady incorporates popular songs from artists such as Sexy Redd and Ella Mai. By infusing these well-known tracks into his work, he maintains a dynamic and captivating presence that resonates with his audience. In addition to his performances, Brady actively conducts workshops and showcases his talents at colleges, as well as working closely with younger children and teenagers. He expressed that the work he does keeps him connected to the community, allowing him to engage and interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds. He perceives these workshops and performances as opportunities to bridge cultural gaps and translate the essence of experiences. Using the medium of poetry, he translates cultural experiences into relatable narratives,  inviting individuals from all walks of life to engage, appreciate, and celebrate the diverse tapestry of human existence. During the event, Frank E. Brady affirmed that “enchantment is about flipping and reversing things,” encapsulating the transformative nature of his artistry. He conveyed a powerful message to college students, stating, “You are magical and you are enchanting just as you are,” emphasizing the innate value and uniqueness that each individual possesses.

The evening culminated with well-deserved recognition for two outstanding students, the Mr. Blackout and Mrs. Blackout awards. Mrs. Blackout was granted to Bri Andrade ’24, celebrated for her contributions to queer, black students. As a co-captain of the Elemental Dance Crew and a member of the Trinity College Black Women’s Organization, she has played a pivotal role in promoting artistic expression and fostering inclusivity. Her work at the Queer Resource Center has been particularly noteworthy, as she has created safe and welcoming spaces for queer and black students, ensuring that their voices are heard and their experiences are validated. Bri Andrade ’24 has demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication and her contributions have not gone unnoticed. During an in-person interview at the event, Andrade expressed her joy and appreciation for being recognized. Being acknowledged for her queer work held significance, “It feels really good to be recognized,” Andrade stated. “I’ve been in black organizations my whole time at Trinity College, and to be recognized for the queer work that I do is really special.” This recognition validates her efforts and dedication to promoting inclusivity and understanding within the black community. Looking ahead, Andrade expressed excitement about the future of BlackOut and the impact it can have. She shared, “After this, I’m excited for more people to come to BlackOut and keep recognizing black organizations for the work that they do.” Mr. Blackout was awarded to Ayouba Swaray ’24, honored for his contributions to theatre production. His dedication and talent were evident in his work on plays such as “Pillowman” and his exceptional management of the recent production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” In addition, he showcased his creative prowess through his thesis production titled “Tu Colo, Ca Jele Lolu Luh – Through the Woods, and Up to the Stars.” Ayouba Swaray ’24 was an active member of the BSU for three years and served as a senator for two of those. Being recognized as Mr. Blackout holds a special place in his heart, as it symbolizes the culmination of his efforts and the meaningful relationships he has cultivated on campus. It represents the fulfillment of his ultimate wish for his college experience—to be acknowledged and appreciated for his contributions to the community. Although he could not attend the event due to his attentiveness to managing “Cinderella”, Swaray commented on his achievement after the event. “Just a year ago, I was on the BSU committee, actively involved in the process of deliberating who would receive the award. Little did I know that I would soon find myself in the same position,” Swaray revealed. This realization added an extra layer of significance to his achievement, as he had firsthand experience in evaluating the exceptional individuals who were considered for the honor. Swaray expressed, “There is nothing more satisfactory than being crowned alongside my best friend, my day 1, Brianna Andrade – another outstanding, selfless pillar of our community who without, I wouldn’t have been able to survive these long 4 years.” The bond shared with Andrade underscores the power of friendship and support in overcoming obstacles during their college journey. Together, they have thrived and made a lasting impact on their community, embodying the spirit of unity and collaboration. 

The Imani BSU’s dedication to creating an inclusive and empowering environment was evident throughout the night. The Blackout: Enchanted Gala fostered a sense of unity and provided an opportunity for students to connect and engage with one another. It served as a testament to the importance of celebrating diversity and fostering a sense of community within the Trinity College campus.

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