BY KORE SEVERANCE – STAFF WRITER
Photographs of black female students are displayed across campus, featuring quotes from influential, black female role models. These pictures are part of the Phenomenal Women Campaign, launched at the end of February by Sister to Sister, an organization on campus created in 2016 by senior Oyin Aderoba that aims to provide an affinity group for black women on Centre College’s campus.
Vice President of Sister to Sister, junior Je’Coiya Moore, is the mastermind behind the Phenomenal Women Campaign. “I was inspired to do the Phenomenal Women Campaign as soon as Sister to Sister began. I wanted to let Centre know that there are phenomenal black women on this campus who are inspiring, creative, funny, lovable, and more,” she said.
Moore feels that oftentimes black women are seen as horrible caricatures, and the Phenomenal Women Campaign was a way to debunk preconceived notions that may be held about black women at Centre or in the world as a whole.
Sister to Sister means love, laughter, authenticity, and sisterhood. “Ever since this club has been running, I have felt an overwhelming sense of support from other black women on this campus. As a small percentage of Centre’s student body, it is important for us to have a space where we can uplift, support, and empower one another to continue to strive for excellence,” Moore said.
The phenomenal women campaign had two goals: celebrate and embrace the identities of black women, and inspire other women. The launch date of the campaign was intentional, as black history month was ending (February) and leading into women’s history month (March).
There was an activity planned for every day of the week the campaign launched. Monday kicked off the campaign, as the photos taken by sophomore Rai Utomo were posted across campus. Tuesday, there was a slideshow shown in Cowan during lunch and dinner honoring several notable black women, including Centre’s very own Dr. Andrea Abrams, Kiana Fields, Chantell Limerick, and more. An Empowerment Mic was hosted Wednesday, where anyone was able to read empowering poems in the Campus Center. Thursday, flowers were handed out to women across campus to celebrate the beginning of National Women’s History Month. Finally, to conclude the campaign on Friday, there was a Cowan table where the Centre community could send free cookie-grams to women they admired on campus.
Abby Akrong, a sophomore depicted in the phenomenal women pictures and a member of Sister to Sister, spoke on how the campaign made her feel: “This campaign made me feel like I could truly be beautiful simply because I am me.”
Akrong does not feel that American society encourages women of color to believe in their own beauty within themselves. “It reminded me that even though we are often treated as if we are towards, if not at the bottom of the social totem pole, we are still amazing, and no one can deny that,” she said.
Sophomore Dahabo Kerow, also a member of Sister to Sister and depicted in the pictures, explained how Sister to Sister has created a support system for her. She feels that this organization is a place of validation and belonging that shines more light on the beauty and diversity that exists within the black identity and womanhood experience.
“This campaign defied the odds and showed women of color in a new light!” Kerow said, bringing up the scrutinization black women face in the everyday world as they battle labels and societal norms. “This scrutiny that women of color face is also visible on Centre’s campus. Sister to Sister shows us that we are more than our labels and that we all have a sense of individuality and leadership that makes us unique and beautiful!”