By Stephanie Harper,
Special to the AFRO

Baltimore City bid farewell to Black History Month in high fashion this year, with a slew of events related to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) tournament occurring at the Royal Farms Arena in Downtown Baltimore.

The event brought an influx of Black dollars to area hotels, restaurants and entertainment scenes as members of the African diaspora poured into downtown Baltimore to watch top HBCU athletes compete and party with top music industry artists.

Lincoln University #34 Joy Morton. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)
Kindred the Family Soul, CIAA Commissioner and Distinguished guest. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)
Orioles Hall of Famer Al Bumbry. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)
Mr. & Ms. WSSU. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)

Residents and visitors alike reveled in the friendly rivalry as HBCU culture was put on full display. HBCU kings and queens made appearances along with the high-spirited cheerleaders, known for their pep and acrobatic skill. Members of the Divine Nine could be seen proudly bearing their crests and organization colors at the CIAA Tournament Step Show Showdown Greeks vs. Greeks step show, a staple of HBCU gatherings.

“Step shows are a positive environment where fraternities and sororities are able to showcase their organization principles and the camaraderie within the respective organizations,” said Landon White of the Alpha Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity. “HBCUs benefit from a recruiting aspect. The youth in the stands may want to feel the thrill of one day being in a stroll line in the crowd or being on the big stage.”

The Alpha Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity. was founded on the campus of Baltimore’s prestigious Morgan State University in 1963. The men claimed the top prize at the step show, which was hosted by 92Q radio station. 

Fayetteville State Jalen Seegars. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)
Legendary Play by Play announcer Stan Lewter. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)
Greg Brooks Outstanding CIAA Athlete of the Year. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)
Livingstone University Quarter Final Player of the game JAMIAH LANE. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)
Mayor B. Scott & Rev. Heath. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)

The Alpha Chapter managed to blend traditional elements of Black Greek step culture with Baltimore’s own unique style of music and dance. The crowd gathered inside the Royal Farms Arena went wild when local celebrity Carnell Nichols, Jr. appeared to show off his signature moves.

“The students and kids get to see Baltimore dance, it means everything,” said the originator of Baltimore’s “Carnell Stomp.” “We’ve been trying to get these moves seen more [all] over the world.”

CIAA Fans (Photo by J.J. McQueen)
Play by Play Announcers (Photo by J.J. McQueen)
Clafin University & Virginia Union. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)
Game Action Shot Livingstone & Fayetteville State Women’s Game. (Photo by J.J. McQueen)

Aside from a cameo by Nichols, the centaurs of the Alpha Chapter also sent fans into a frenzy when they referenced the cult-classic series, “The Wire,” while also tastefully paying homage to slain rapper Lor Skoota by catching “Bird Flu.”

Aside from the step show, Gwynn Hilton, one of Baltimore’s most diverse artists was featured on the ZaZapalooza stage in a lineup that included the likes of multi-platinum rap artist, Jadakiss. 

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