LANGSTON — Langston University students Sunday night honored Oklahoma civil rights leader Clara Luper as someone who has made history during her lifetime. The occasion, the Miss Black Langston Scholarship Pageant, ended a month of activities for Black History Month. This year marked the first time the predominately black university has celebrated with an entire month of activities. On hand were alumni, parents of students, faculty and friends of the university. "People in our age group are trying to make history. They see an African-American and a woman running (for president), that's history in the making,” said Harron Haywood, a sophomore from Detroit. "If it weren't this, if it weren't for them, we wouldn't be able to make history.” The 2008 presidential election features the first woman in U.S. history to be considered a legitimate candidate, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and the first black presidential candidate considered a legitimate contender, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. The three front-runners, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Clinton and Obama, are all viable candidates within the race. According to numerous polls of likely U.S. voters, Obama has a slight edge in the field.
Student sees hope in electionSophomore Demaundray Woolridge recently transferred to Langston to play football. Over the weekend, he crammed to stay on top of his studies. But he also took the occasional detour to read up on Obama. He has never before voted. But this year, he registered early, just to make sure he had the opportunity to cast his vote in November. "Hope, he gives everybody hope. For awhile everyone was saying he's not facing reality. And Obama said, it was hope that started this country, and it's hope that is going to save this country now,” Woolrige said. "No one's ever had the guts to try really. He's the first one that's ever really had the guts to try.” At the campus auditorium Sunday afternoon, the backstage dressing room was full. Pageant contestants were trying to sneak in a late lunch before the last rehearsal as well as putting final touches on their performances, makeup and outfits. Contestants exchanged friendly razzing over how each other would do, but when asked about the upcoming presidential election, they all expressed the mindset that not only was it exciting, but that it inspired them to believe in the potential of their own lives, regardless of race or gender. Two of the eight pageant contestants said they have voted in previous elections. None of the contestants were old enough to have voted in a presidential election. All of them said they are now registered and plan to vote in November.
Loria Jackson and other contestants break into some impromptu dancing backstage before the Miss Black Langston University pageant on Sunday. BY JOHN CLANTON, THE OKLAHOMAN