Finding a home in Black Lioness Alliance

Lavette Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Tailynn Taylor, Destini Beckwith and Bella Medrano (left to right) pose proudly in front of the painting they contributed for the homecoming window painting competition.

Destini Beckwith, Tailynn Taylor and Bella Medrano, who are new members of Black Lioness Alliance get together to paint the Guillot University Center windows for homecoming week.

For Taylor and Medrano, this was not their first time encountering one another but for Beckwith it was. Beckwith had a late start in joining BLA due to COVID-19 and her anxiety.

“I found out about [BLA] last year,” said Beckwith, UNA sophomore. “I think they were giving out their information to people who were passing the GUC, but I didn’t join because I was trying to follow COVID-19 guidelines.”

Beckwith said then, she did not want to get out because she was afraid that I would catch the virus.

“With the restrictions being lifted this year a little bit more, I decided to be more social,” Beckwith said. “I feel like I’ve been cooped up in my room for a year so I wanted to meet people. This is a way to get to know people who share [my] same cultural similarities.”

BLA is an organization that was started up by a student who wanted to provide a safe place for black women. Students of other races, ethnicities and genders are also welcomed to join as well.

While Beckwith attended the first meeting of the semester, it was on Zoom and many of the members had their cameras off so it was hard to connect with the members. However, after working on the mural, she was able to finally interact with some of the members.

A secondary education major, Beckwith pursues drawing and painting in her free time. So, when BLA President Aliyah McCary asked her if she wanted to work on the GUC windows, Beckwith did not hesitate.

“I just like that they allow me to express myself with the window painting,” Beckwith said. “They allowed me to use my design and [use] my artistic abilities.”

Taylor, a junior at the university, saw the homecoming activity as a bonding experience with the two other members.

She said they were outside for about three hours.

“We got to connect,” Taylor said. “That’s the important part.”

Taylor transferred from Lawson State University and joined BLA after attending one of their events. Soon after, she went from not knowing anyone to having a group of friends.

“Everyone is so welcoming and friendly,” Taylor said. “It made it feel more like home. They’re starting to become more like family.”

Medrano, a UNA junior, experienced this same warmth from Black Lioness Alliance. Medrano transferred to UNA, moving from her hometown in Nebraska. Florence, Ala. – the people, the weather – was relatively different.

Medrano said the university she attended in Nebraska had diversity, but it did not have many organizations like BLA, which was specific for those in the African-American community.

“It’s nice to get a different point of view from everybody,” Medrano said. “It’s nice to see everyone getting together.”

Painting the GUC windows gave Medrano a way to pass time but also contribute to BLA.

“It was fun,” Medrano said. “I didn’t have much planned that day so it gave me something to do, and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

While Beckwith, Taylor and Medrano’s mural did not win the window painting competition, they were rewarded in other ways – with perhaps friendship, but also sweets from McCary for all their hard work.