NICOLE PECHACEK- STAFF WRITER
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic canceling many large events at Hampton, the Greer Dawson Wilson Student Leadership Program and Student Activities were able to host both the Miss Hampton University and Mr. Pirate pageants virtually. Instead of Ogden Hall’s stage, Hampton students gathered online to cheer on the pageant contestants, who competed from their homes around the country.
Inspired by Beyonce’s recent film, the “Black is King” 19th annual Mr. Pirate pageant streamed Sept. 27 on YouTube between contestants Jordan Thomas Ray and Elias James Fambro. After various segments, Ray was announced the 19th Mr. Pirate by five guest judges at the end of the video stream. Despite the lack of spotlights and cheers from students, Jordan said that he still felt the energy when he found out he was the winner of this year’s pageant.
“I worked extremely hard for this,” Ray said. “When I won, I just jumped up in excitement because it was a lifetime goal that was achieved.”
Jordan Ray, a senior liberal studies major with an emphasis in community reform, had been dreaming of winning Mr. Pirate since his first year. His Project Royalty Platform is still planned to start this year as a virtual way for students to connect and network as well as tutor to help empower black youth.
“My plans are to create a connection board with all the students through Zoom calls around two to three times a month,” Ray said. “That’s what I’m going to use to connect us, and I plan to encourage people to step out into the community and be a part of different things. I’m going to create a committee for all Hampton students as a part of a community outreach program where we’re going to go out and empower our youth by tutoring them online.”
Later on that weekend, the “Black is Queen” 63rd annual Miss Hampton University Pageant had eight contestants aiming for the crown, but Christian Peterson was the one to win it all. Peterson, a senior business management major, learned to love pageantry from her sister and was inspired to compete for herself.
“My sister is one of my biggest influences as far as pageantry goes,” Peterson said. “She’s always been very involved in pageants and dancing. A lot of people have this misconception that pageants are kind of superficial, but once you get into them, you realize that a lot of those women that compete in pageants are very educated. They’re really about what they stand for as far as their platforms go and they’re really committed to it.”
Peterson’s platform, Raising Excellence in African American Leaders, also known as R.E.A.L, is a mission to enhance leadership in college and the workforce in the Black community. She has started implementing her program in her hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, despite the pandemic’s hindrances.
“I began the R.E.A.L program at my high school, and I started talking to my old guidance counselor and people at home about it,” Peterson said. “I began with schools, churches and even small community events. I realized I could reach a wider group of people, so I began thinking of what kind of events I could do, not only for people who are coming into college but also college-aged people who are about to start going into the real world. I began thinking, OK, we can do different types of series where we highlight careers, so not only is this showing the career but it’s also showing kids out of high school you can be a young African American and still be successful in the world.”
Peterson was officially crowned the 63rd Miss Hampton University during Hampton’s Coronation ceremony Oct. 7. During this event, Peterson gave a speech where she thanked President Dr. William R. Harvey, and the first lady, Norma B. Harvey, as well as SLP and many others for allowing her to become their new Miss Hampton University.
In addition to showcasing these sacred traditions of crowning both
Mr. Pirate and Miss Hampton, these pageants show how large-scale campus events can still be done virtually and safely. Hopefully, many other campus celebrations use these events as an example to still be able to enjoy the things HU holds dear.