Pink Ties for Progress:
Douglass Black Students Congress Raise Breast Cancer Awareness
Written by Justin Hockaday
Rutgers University students and distinguished guests arrived dressed to impress for a good cause, April 5th, 2014 for the 2nd Annual “Pink Tie Affair” hosted by the Douglass Black Students Congress (D.B.S.C.). In an effort to raise Breast Cancer awareness, the banquet featured guest speakers, spoken word performances, as well as a luminary ceremony which honored those past and present who have been afflicted by the disease. “The preparation for Pink Tie, without a doubt, was a group effort…” offered D.B.S.C. historian and public relations chair Egypt Pringley, “We work hard to keep our reputation as an organization that hosts good, quality events.” Jimi Gbadamosi, Public Relations chair for TWESE, the Rutgers University organization for African students and friends of Africa, appreciated their commitment, “I like the fact that as young, African-American college students, we’re able to come together and do something to support a cause rather then just spending money to go to a party in the student center. Positive events like these speak volumes for our community.”
Furthermore, as guest speakers Dorothy Reed and Lareatha Payne’s words resonated with the audience, one could see why D.B.S.C.’s reputation of quality has been maintained. Reed, a Sisters Network representative, works within her Central New Jersey network to bolster awareness in the African American community about the devastating impacts of Breast Cancer, while providing assistance to patients across the tri-state area. “For 14 years we have educated the community, and we have educated ourselves… A woman should not die because she does not have money for a mammogram.” Affirming the importance of education, early detection, and prevention, Reed addressed the statistics regarding AfAfrican-American women and Breast Cancer, and explained the ongoing solutions that Sisters Network is striving for. However, it was the humorous yet strong words that followed by Breast Cancer survivor Lareatha Payne that set the tone of hope and renewal for the remainder of the evening, “We always think of cancer as being a death sentence… Well, that was 16 years ago and I still look pretty good don’t I?”
Payne spoke candidly about her experience and struggles, including a time in which she went “symptom free” for 7 years after her original Breast Cancer diagnosis, only to wake up one day feeling “off” and becoming informed that the cancer had spread. It was in that moment where Payne said she made a decision, in the face of death, “I decided that I was going to live… I was going to
deal with this in a fighting, healing mode… I had to forgive, I was inspired by the story of Job and how after his affliction God held promise…I took on a tone of laughter.” Her resilience reflected a courageous attitude few are capable of in the face of such adverse circumstances, but Payne noted how she was not alone in her fight.
The Sisters Network provided her with the support she needed to overcome Breast Cancer. Similarly, D.B.S.C. President Siobhan Barrington echoed these sentiments of sisterhood. “As the President I feel like I can only lead if I have a supportive army behind me, and that is exactly what I have, an army of strong women standing next to me making things happen…” The future is bright for the well established Douglass Black Students Congress, and while Barrington is not exactly sure of what event might come next, she added with a smirk that whatever it may be, “These are all the sisters that I never asked for, but couldn’t be any more proud to have.”