Culture | November 14th, 2023
The Diamonds of the Season
By: Jaden Bowen
There is a rich culture associated with HBCU majorettes and dancers that was once lost on Florida A&M University’s campus.
With the Diamonds of FAMU, the return of an organization of 10 active, talented women and performers, an essence of the Rattler spirit has been brought back to the university.
Jada Strange, a junior nursing student and member of the Diamonds, says the return of the Diamonds came with a lot of hard work and preparation. As a former cheerleader, she was more than ready to take on that challenge.
“We knew the Diamonds’ comeback needed to be bold and strong this year, it was exceptional,” Strange said. “From the first game to now, I can say that we have improved tremendously. We have worked very hard to be where we are now, given that this was all of our first times performing for football season.”
Sequined, sparkled and sometimes bedazzled, the Diamonds quite literally shine a bright light from their designated space in the student section during football games.
From receiving a whole new roster of dancers in the spring term to the first football game at the start of the fall season leading up to the grand performance at homecoming at the end of October, the Diamonds have worked tirelessly doing what they love. Their coach, a FAMU alumna and former Diamond herself, Leniah Borders, reflects proudly on the students’ growth.
“The current Diamonds have come a long way from spring while still being in the process of learning the ropes of the organization,” Borders said. “There’s always room for improvement, so the only way for us is up.”
Having an experienced and trusted leader in Borders is meaningful to the current members of the Diamonds. Still, a strong sense of sisterhood is represented and maintained under the guidance of Arionne Holden, a senior animal science student who serves as their captain.
“My teammates are my sisters, and I love them to life,” Holden said. “But because I have to enforce discipline and be an authority figure, so to speak, there’s a distinction between captain that everyone has respect for. It took a lot of patience — trial and error to find that balance.”
Just as Borders leads and coaches the Diamonds’, Holden also balances that role while being one of the dancers. She says there are a lot of “sacrifices and selflessness” involved in her position, but overall, it’s a rewarding experience.
“Being a Diamond is important to me because I get to be a part of a legacy,” Borders said. “The Diamonds have been a staple at FAMU for almost a decade, and I’m happy to be part of keeping the organization alive on the campus.”
Other Diamonds share this same sentiment about the organization. They consider being a Diamond an art and an outlet.
Third-year supply chain management student Bryce Johnson uses her role as a Diamond as a form of self-expression.
“Since middle school, I dreamt of being able to dance the majorette style on the collegiate level,” Johnson said. “Now that my dreams have become reality, I use to release any emotion I feel, either good or bad.”
Now, Johnson cherishes the sisterhood and sense of community she’s gained with the Diamonds through her connection to God.
“Honestly, when I perform, I don’t think at all,” Johnson said. “I let go and trust that all the hard work we’ve done will do the talking. Game time is not the time to overthink the movements. To combat that temptation, before entering the stadium, before even getting out of bed, I pray to God for remembrance, a sound mind, and someway, somehow, may my performance bring Him glory.”
Alongside the student section decorated in orange and green, the Royal Court, and the Marching 100, the Diamonds have commanded their space and drawn many eyes, so much so that many have craved the experience of becoming one of them.
To build an even bigger reputation and welcome new dancers, the Diamonds hosted an interest meeting, advertised on Instagram, on Nov. 1 called “Diamond For a Day.”
The meeting consisted of calling upon anyone interested in becoming a Diamond to perform with the dancers and get the opportunity to experience the organization through a day-in-the-life. The selected participants received the chance to perform alongside the Diamonds at Bragg Memorial Stadium on Nov. 11, where the FAMU football team had its last regular season football game against Lincoln University before moving on to the Orlando Classic and SWAC Championship.
Senior broadcast journalism student Shari Ryant was one of the students selected to become a Diamond for a Day. Ryant recalls a more involved and rewarding experience and fulfilled her wish of performing with the organization before her graduation in the spring term.
“I had so much fun dancing with the Diamonds and all the other girls involved,” Ryant said. “We practiced for three days out of the week, and everyone was very encouraging. Performance day felt like a dream come true because I’ve always wanted to dance in the stands of a football game.”
With the end of the fall semester approaching, the Diamonds have become the epitome of sisterhood and unity. Their work ethic and dedication to their craft, previously lost on campus, have allowed them to shine and live up to their moniker.
Behind every Diamond is a woman who has taken pride in her involvement in the organization. They have a deep passion for the artistry it takes to be a dancer at an HBCU like FAMU while recognizing that they’ve gained more than people may realize.
“Being a Diamond means more to me than just dancing,” Strange said. “This organization has given me womanhood qualities, reshaped my mentality, and helped me with my teamwork skills. I know what it’s like to be poise and humble. I can’t thank my sisterhood enough.”