For years Ebony magazine has highlighted the campus queens from HBCUs. I remember when I worked at Albany State how we always wanted to make sure the queen had a great photo for this edition, as many alums took pride in seeing their queen. But around 2010 they decided not to show all the queens and instead just pick 10.
Of course, when there is a popular vote, the advantage goes to the larger schools with larger student bodies and alumni bases. Generally one school with fewer than 1,500 students makes the cut, and since the new rules came into place Dillard has never made the cut.
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Our queen this year, Chelsea Bosley, reached out early and said she was ready to put in the work to win a spot in the top 10. So our marketing and communications team developed a strategy, a mix of video, social media, and email blasts constantly in order to build awareness of her campaign.
We needed to be creative, so that’s when my secret weapon came through. MC Lyte, the hip hop legend, is a member of our board of trustees. She’s not a trustee in name, she actually puts in work! So I sent her an email, and the next day the video was ready.
With less than a week to go we were in the top 10. On 2 schools under 1,500 students made the top 20 (Fisk at #20).
As the new semester started we pushed even harder. We were given an initial deadline, but then learned 3 days were added for additional votes. I didn’t like that much because we’ve been voting since about December 5th, so I could only guess that this was to give someone additional time to get in. So we sent e-mail blasts to our campus community to step up their voting.
Dillard University | Miss Dillard University voted one of EBONY Magazine's HBCU Campus Queens
And so we made history as our queen made the top 10 for Ebony Magazine. It was definitely an entire campus and alumni effort, and required a lot of us as a small school. But I also had another observation about the effectiveness of our campaign.
In no previous year had more than 2 Louisiana HBCU queens made the top 10 list. This year? All 5 made it- the most ever for any state. For perspective, North Carolina has 12 HBCUs and has never had more than 3 queens in the top 10. Folks in Louisiana took notice of our very organized campaign, and I personally believe it caused all the Louisiana schools to be more engaged in the process and so we all benefitted in the end.
So I guess it paid off for everyone to follow the leader!