JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – This year’s Homecoming will be a special one for Jackson State’s Prancing J-Settes, because they’re celebrating 50 years.
“We didn’t know we were groundbreaking. We were just doing what we loved from someone who directed us,” said Sheila Evers-Blackmon, one of the first members of the J-Settes.
In 1971, Jackson State’s team of majorettes officially became the Prancing J-Settes. Fifty years later, they’re gearing up to take the field again.
Organizers said it took nearly two years of planning to get more than 180 alumni J-Settes back together from across the country for the 50 year celebration.
“Seeing the young ladies out there now, it’s like, wow. Some I haven’t seen in ages. They’re all like my daughters,” said Kathryn Worthy, who graduated in 1980.
As the ladies prepare to dance with the Sonic Boom of the South for the Homecoming game on Saturday, they have been reflecting on some of their favorite memories.
“Us going to Cincinnati, Ohio, performing for the Cincinnati Bengals; being the first Historically Black College to be invited in 1972,” stated Evers-Blackmon.
While many of the women said the J-Settes helped made them successful women, they said being on the team was far from easy.
“We practiced every day, three to four hours a day. Sometimes until 1:00 in the morning,” said Leonese Spann, who graduated in 1989.
“There was never a guaranteed spot. We had to always try out, and the competition was always tough. You had to make sure your weight and height was in proportion,” said Gloria Tatum, who graduated in 1975.
The alumni network with each other and work together to help the current members of the team.
“It’s important for us to come back to give back, and we have been able to do that through our scholarships. We’re going to be able to give $54,000 this year, so that’s going to mean a lot to the young ladies moving forward,” explained Mia Threvillion-Barney, who graduated in 1991.
Overall, the bonds they have made have stuck with them for years.