‘Black Women Rock’ Honors Successes of Black Women at Penn State

Saturday, March 18th, 2017, Penn State’s Black Student Union held their 6th annual Black Women Rock awards show, an uplifting and motivational event that was held at the Days Inn hotel downtown to celebrate black women and their amazing accomplishments.

Black Women Rock started at Penn State in 2012 and is a culmination of achieved women in their fields, a variety of student performances and a guest speaker each year. It celebrates the accomplishments, brilliance, and contributions of African American women at Penn State.

This year, actress, singer, and dancer, Jasmine Guy was the speaker. She continues to enjoy a diverse career in TV, film, and television. Guy landed the role of Whitley Gilbert on the Cosby Show spin off, A Different World.

The night began with the host, Penn State alumna Jerrie Johnson, who holds a B.A. in Theater with a focus in performance and minors in women’s and African American studies. She introduced the first set of performers and each set of following.

Award and Winners:

  • Serena Williams Award: Simone Lee
  • Maria L. Baldwin Award: Raenika Crew
  • Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler Award: Natasha Roberts
  • Patti Labelle Award: Darlyncia Nobrun
  • Maya Angelou Award: Christina Walker
  • Oprah Winfrey Award: Deanie Anyangwe
  • Ida B. Wells: Adrienne Thompson
  • Cynthia Baldwin Award: Nkenji Clarke
  • Mary McLeod Award: Dr. Stephanie Preston
  • Michelle Obama Award (Woman of the Year): Symone McCullum


Whitney Brown, president of Black Student Union, also honored that night, with an award for all the hard work she does for the organization.

Deanie Anyangwe, winner of the Oprah Winfrey award wasn’t expecting to win. She said, “It was a really good feeling and made me feel really appreciated honestly, it really made me feel empowered to keep doing the work that I’m doing”.

Natasha Roberts, winner of the Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler award was surprised that she won as well. “I didn’t think I was really well known on campus, but now that I won, I see that people are inspired by what I’m doing, so it’s more motivation to keep doing you by working hard”.

In addition to the award ceremony, a few students showcased their talents through spoken word, vocals, and dance.

  • Bana: A spoken word piece about black excellence
  • Nicole Williams: An interpretive dance
  • Maria Wirries: played the piano and sang Phenomenal Woman
  • Silent Praise Dance
  • Rose Roman and Torre: Step performance
  • Ambitions: Interpretive Dance
  • Rabiyatu Jalloh: Spoken Word

When asked about the event as a whole, Senorpe A-Hiablie, a post doctoral student said she “thought the organizers did a great job and brought in a lot of variety as far as performances, you can tell the audience really appreciated the whole show.”

Her friend, Olivenne Skinner, also a post doctoral student agreed, she thought “it was beautiful, it was so nice to see the many different black people come together and celebrate each other. It was so nice to see the different groups on campus celebrating together.”

To close the night, actress, director, singer, and dancer, Jasmine Guy came to the stage to share her “Three Cs” of knowledge. The first, curiosity by way of intelligence. She gave those in attendance wise words. After telling the crowd she had never been to college, she explained that college isn’t needed to be intelligence, “You can be educated on your own if your curious enough.”

She continued to pass great knowledge with compassion, her second C. She said ” you have to pick the person that hasn’t done you right, then try to be compassionate” as she told stories of her daughter.

She finished off her talk with her final C, commitment, stating that “you have to find who you are on your own. You have to get out of the ‘school’ mentality and take responsibility” after telling stories about attendance and projects from her dancing days.

The night ended with a question and answer question and joined the crowd in singing along to the “A Different World” theme song.

When ask how she thought the night went, Whitney Brown, senior, president of Black Student Union and a Forensic biology and African American studies double major stated that she ” thought it went really well. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of support, attendance and feedback we received”

She also thought that events like this are important. “The event is about black women uplifting one another. Its about the empowerment of womanhood and it needed anyone to affirm our existence.”

Photo Credit: Mayukh Bhowmick