Missouri State Celebrates Black Love

Couple Destiny Minor and James Barnes Photo Credit: Angela Agaen

Couple Destiny Minor and James Barnes
Photo Credit: Angela Agaen

Myesha Smith, The Black Bear – Love is in the air, a day earlier than Valentine’s Day. Black Love Day, celebrated on Feb. 13,  is recognized as the third nationally observed African-American holiday. The Black Bear’s Myesha Smith caught up with a few couples around campus to share their thoughts on love; black love.

Cadarrius Dotson and his fiancé Keyontae Lacey have been together for four years, three years long distance. So what’s their secret?

“Don’t be afraid to love and to be loved, I think it is important to let a person know that you love them and care about them, it promotes a healthy relationship,” Dotson said.

Dotson encourages everyone to always express your appreciation.

“I need to say it and they need to hear and feel it, and vice versa, it’s good for the heart, WE LOVE YOU, WE LOVE YOU ALL,” Dotson said.

Black Love Day is more than chocolates and roses for the one you care about. This year marks Black Love Day’s 22nd celebration of showing “5 Tenets towards, the Creator, for self, for the Family, within the Black community, and for the Black Race.”

Keyontae Lacey, MSU alumni and Dotson’s fiancé, weighs in on self-love.

“Giving back is your time to develop new skills and make social connections; giving back is self-love. If you love yourself, you can branch that love and energy off,” Lacey said.

Ayo Handy Kendi is the founder and director of African American Holiday Association. She hosts ceremonies all around the world, including St. Louis, Mo., Richmond, Va., Los Angeles, and West Africa.

Black Love Relationship ceremonies have been hosted by AAHA in Washington D.C. annually since 1993 according to African American Holidays website.

Francine Pratt, executive director of the multicultural center, believes the significance for this holiday is to “learn how to find the positive in people and lift them up. Face each day showing love and giving love to anyone, it can be a smile, a kind word or helping someone through a challenging time.”

Courtesy of Francine and Wes Pratt

Courtesy of Francine and Wes Pratt

James Barnes and Destiny Minor, who will be celebrating their two year anniversary soon, said that BLD for them is expressing emotion; “love is the language of the world.”

“Celebrate love every day in some way, reflection and embracing each other,” Minor said.

Another couple on campus, Micah Baggett and Donae Barnes agreed “it takes both sides, working together” to operate smoothly and comfortably for a healthy relationship.

The African-centered holiday is an alternative to the original Valentine’s Day encouraging these three goals, 1) black self-love instead of self-hatred, 2) racial healing to stop White supremacy, and 3) a return to love for increased peace to stop violence.

Director of Institutional Equity and Compliance, Wes Pratt, gave insight on how men can show love and affection for loved ones, “To show love and do love, we often must show ourselves to be vulnerable to our feelings and that is difficult for many men. We don’t feel that we can trust other people….whomever may be close to us; and that’s a difficult way to live a full life.”

Mr. and Mrs. Pratt have been together since 2003. She said love means “for someone to be so in tune with you that they are considerate of your every need.”

A few ways you can celebrate BLD is by using the greeting “Nya Akoma” (N-yah-AH-Coma) which means “get a heart, be patient,” personal love rituals, couple love-ins or community relationship ceremonies and supporting black businesses. There is also a book on the holiday called The Black Love Book written by Ayo Handy-Kendi.


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  1. Black Love At Missouri State University – Inform. Connect. Develop.

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