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SUNO student flexes academic muscle on Black College Quiz

4th March 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Kelly Parker
Contributing Writer

The answer: The jeopardy-like show that teases the brains of HBCU students from around the country; showcasing their knowledge and skill of African-American history, culture, literature and entertainment.

Question: What is Black College Quiz?

The 7th Annual Ford Black College Quiz Show brought together some of the nation’s brightest minds for two days of fun and competition on the campus of Spelman College in Atlanta. The competition offered a dozen gifted student players the chance to represent their schools and test their knowledge of African-American history.

Debuting as host this year was RonReaco Lee, star of the BET series “Let’s Stay Together.”

In addition to earning bragging rights for their performance, students competed for thousands of dollars for their studies. Along with Spelman; participating schools included Rust College, Stillman College, Bethune-Cook?man University, and Hampton University. Representing New Orleans was SUNO senior, Terri Simon-Coleman.

“I participate in SUNO’s quiz bowl; I’m actually the captain of our team this year, and our coordinator gave me a call and asked if I’d be interested in participating in Black College Quiz. I jumped at it before letting any of my teammates get the chance,” Coleman told The Louisiana Weekly.

The History/English major had not seen the Black quiz show, but had seen the Hispanic quiz show while channel surfing. Afterward, she learned that a few of her friends from her quiz bowl circle were actually contestants.

“So I learned more about it from then.” she says.

While prior quiz bowls touched on basic knowledge of history across the board, this event allowed Coleman; a Gentilly native, to explore an area of history a bit deeper than she had in her studies.

“The challenge was exploring (more in detail) Antebellum and Reconstruction history-That was an area I’d be exposed to before but I never delved into it much,” she says. “..So studying for the Black College Quiz competition served as catalyst to do more in dept reading work in those areas.”

“I’ve studied literature forever, but this was the first time that I actually had an excuse to make myself go onto my bookshelf and read Go Tell It On The Mountain and a couple of other (James) Baldwin pieces. And it was really enjoyable,” she added.

Also a highlight for Coleman was participating with the other contestants who shared her love of academics “It was really nice to be in the company of other students who were equally interested in the academic aspects of college life—in particular, in the academic area of Black history,” she told The Louisiana Weekly.

Taping took place in November and the shows began airing in late January (in recognition of Black History Month). Coleman has yet to see the episode in which she was a contestant; but her friends and relatives have.

“I got to see the episode with the student that participated from Spelman, but I haven’t seen myself. My in-laws did tell me my hair looked nice,” Coleman joked.

In a twist to the show’s format, every participant had an opportunity to win. Each student is awarded cash prizes based on their ranking in four rounds of competitive play. Four first-place winners, one from each show, earn a prize of $5,000, $1,000 and $500 in scholarship money is awarded to second- and third-place contestants in each half-hour episode. Coleman was a third-place winner.

“I am extremely excited about our new format for the 2013 Ford Black College Quiz series, which increased our student scholarship monies to over $25,000—the highest ever over the seven years of the program series,” said Don Jackson, executive producer and Central City Productions CEO.

Black College Quiz airs now through early March, locally, on WNOH-Ch. 20.

This article originally published in the March 4, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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