“Miss Black and Gold” fights for civil rights

Junior Kijana Mitchell is the 2016-17 ‘Miss Black and Gold.’ “I’m really looking forward to all of the things that I will be able to do this year,” she said.

Bright lights and applause greeted junior Kijana Mitchell when she won the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. sponsored Miss Black and Gold Pageant Oct. 19.

Not only did she win the crown, but Mitchell also won a $300 scholarship.

“I’m just so honored to be 2016’s Miss Black and Gold,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to all of the things that I will be able to do this year.”

Davian Talley, president of Alpha Phi Alpha Franternity, Inc., presented the award to Mitchell.

“Kijana is very intelligent and respectful,” he said. “She’s diligent in everything she does and hardworking.”

Mitchell will have duties to fulfill as Miss Black and Gold, such as making appearances at Alpha Phi Alpha events.

“She will be helping out with our philanthropy,” Talley said. “We participate in the March of Dimes. We also have a mentoring group called Alpha Academy that Kijana will help with and other community service.”

In addition to campus involvement, Mitchell will also present herself in the Florence community by reading to children in schools and volunteering, she said.

“My job is to be a role model to people in the community,” she said. “I will be making appearances at several events, but I will also be hosting my own functions to promote my platform, which is to Know Your Rights. I will be hosting events that will increase people’s knowledge of what legal rights they have.”

The platform helps people to learn how to stand up for their rights, Mitchell said.

“I want to fight for people that everyone else has given up on,” she said. “I believe that everyone should have access to a free trial, and someone who cares about the outcome.”

Mitchell said she will participate in the district competition for Miss Black and Gold in Mobile.

Mitchell is not only the reigning Miss Black and Gold, but she is also involved with multiple organizations on campus.

Mitchell is a member of North Alabama’s Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. chapter and Student Government Association, a Resident Advisor for Mattielou Hall and president of the Diversity Student Ambassadors.

Junior Bradley Boak, Mitchell’s fellow RA in Mattielou Hall, said Mitchell is “very driven.”

“Kijana is very focused on what she wants to do,” he said. “She’s got well-founded and strong opinions. She’s someone whose mind is always turning. She’s brilliant.”

Mitchell said she is focused on obtaining her degrees in political science and history. She plans to attend Howard University in Washington D.C. to become a defense attorney.

“I care about people, and dedicating my life to fighting for others is my dream,” she said. “This has been my dream career since I was 12, and I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Boak said Mitchell is admirable.

“Kijana has very detailed dreams, and that’s something I respect,” Boak said.

Mitchell said she has little free time, but she enjoys reading when she can.

“I love to read books by Ta-Nehisi Coates, James Patterson, Michelle Alexander and John Grisham in my spare time,” she said. “I also like to draw.”

Mitchell said Coates and Alexander write about civil rights and political and social injustices, and she is passionate about these topics.

“The fact that I am passionate about certain things allows me to be so motivated,” she said. “If I weren’t passionate, I don’t know where I would be.”