The Manifestation of a King and Queen
By Auburn Mann
As evening approached on Oct. 7, the Martin Luther King Jr. Communications Art Center’s lobby was flooded with students, SGA officers, administrators, student ambassadors, campus royalty from other universities, alumni, family and friends --- all setting the stage for the coronation of Mr. and Miss Bowie State University 2012-2013, Devin Davidson and Ebony Paige. The night began when Student Government President Tyler Brock and Vice President Nick Merriman, accompanied by National Alumni Association President Dr. John Word, welcomed everyone from the stage in Samuel L. Myers Auditorium. They introduced the theme of this year’s homecoming celebration, “The Bulldog Experience.” Then the guests of honor took the stage for the first of many performances leading up to their crowning. Together Devin Denzel Davidson and Ebony Tyshera Paige recited the late Tupac Amaru Shakur’s “A Rose that Grew from the Concrete.”
Many prominent alumni from immediate and distant past classes were in the building, if not a part of the festivities themselves. The past three men to serve as Mr. Bowie State University and past women crowned Miss Bowie State University were present. Two former Student Government Association Presidents Jamin Gallman (2011-2012) and Kirk Pressley (2009-2011) were in attendance with Mr. Pressley serving as the night’s largely unseen master of ceremonies. Former campus royals from the past graced the scene.
As Matthew Riley III and Michelle McCleary, Mr. and Miss Bowie State University 2011-2012 prepared to relinquish their crowns, they described the moment as “bittersweet.” Miss Bowie State 2007-2008 Glenda Crawford and Miss Bowie State University 1968-1969 Dr. Annette Stone-Blake, a charter member of the BSU chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., attended the ceremony and were recognized from the stage.
Following the preliminary introductions, the audience witnessed an array of poetry, music and dance selections from a number of students, including the newly crowned class royals from the freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior classes, and the selections from the Mr. and Miss Black and Gold and Mr. and Miss Essence.
Paige and Davidson demonstrated their performing talents for the packed auditorium. Paige performed a monologue advocating HIV/AIDS awareness. Davidson presented his story in poetic overtones, depicting from the time he arrived on campus as a freshmen, through his numerous challenges, when he said he was on the brink of academic and social destruction, until his election as Mr. Bowie State.
The audience also witnessed the crowning of Mr. and Miss Freshmen, Travis Scarborough and Makeda Hill; Mr. and Miss Sophomore, Ezeoma Ebringa, and Clarissa Massey; Mr. and Miss Junior, Darius Gwynn, and Corinthia Jones, and Mr. and Miss Senior Brandon Jones and Tia Johnson. Mr. and Miss Essence, Juanzel Harris and Samantha Taylor, and Mr. and Miss Black and Gold, Amir Cotton and Ashley Moore, were crowned next.
Finally, it was time for the main attraction, the crowning of Mr. and Miss Bowie State University 2012-2013. The curtain abruptly and awkwardly closed and within a matter of several seconds reopened to an intricately designed plateau on the stage. Before each crowning, each queen and king individually walked down a center runway into the audience. However, Paige and Davidson walked down the runway together, signifying their new position as a couple.
BSU President Mickey L. Burnim and his wife, LaVera, offered words in tribute to the newly crowned king and queen as they were seated on their thrones. “Serve in your roles to the very best of your abilities, because you are representing the students of Bowie State University,” Burnim said. “This is coming from one royal couple to another.”
Next up was Black Male Agenda (BMA), which for the third consecutive year has an affiliate in Bowie State’s most prestigious royal position. In keeping with their longtime theme of ancient Egypt, or Kemet, BMA manifested its pride in Davidson’s ascension to his new position through five symbols: a block with the words “manhood” painted on it; a staff to represent stability; a red cape representing his inner man; and a stole, kufi and ankh, representing Negroid pride and Ancient Egypt.
Davidson received the staff from Mr. Bowie State 2010-2011 Ameer Hassan Walton. “A staff represents stability to a man’s walk, and you will learn to lead this university on a stable path with pride,” Walton said as he presented the staff. Davidson’s tribute was concluded when he was asked to shout Arumbe, which is a statement meaning “we pull together,” while simultaneously raising his right fist in the air, both seven times, which is valued as the number of completion.
Dr. Raymond Shorter, advisor to Davidson, stated “I saw you when you were a boy, I saw you when you were a man, and now, I see you when you are a king,” said Dr. Raymond Shorter, Davidson’s advisor. Ms. Tamisha Jackson, of the office of student life, spoke as Paige’s advisor. She described Miss Bowie as “the epitome of humility.”
As the final tribute, the new Royals were asked to give a personal tribute to their parents and others who helped raised and significantly supported them in some aspect of their lives.
“My mom, dad, and sister, have been my backbone for real,” Paige said. “You have been my guide to God. I can never really express how much I feel about you all.”
“Without my mom I wouldn’t be up here,” Davidson said. “God took one brother from me and he gave me thirty more,” he added, referring to the tragic death of his older brother and BMA members.
When asked of his thoughts on Matthew Riley III and Davidson’s rise to Bowie male royalty, Walton stated, “Being the First of now three BMA brothers to be Mr. Bowie State University it’s amazing to see these guys stepping up to the plate year after year to something that few people do because the spotlight is on you to lead the school. It’s really been an honor and has made me proud.”
The night concluded with on an energetic note as the Symphony of Soul marched in under the auditorium’s lights to begin the weeklong homecoming celebration that ushered in what is to many a timeless “Bulldog Experience.”