HBCUs homecomings

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Homecomings are synonymous with celebratory reunions for educational institutions. A college or university homecoming can be seen as a yearly formality or a true love fest where you share and embrace the love generated by attending students, alumni, friends and the community. While all homecomings are supposed to be a coming together of people brought together because of an institution, not all homecoming gatherings are as festive and heartfelt as others.

All universities have homecomings, but as an African American, it is my experience that the reunion and festive spirit experienced at an HBCU is often more joyous and sentimental for celebrants than that which is experienced at predominately White colleges or universities.

I am sure you will find some that would beg to differ, but for African Americans attending an HBCU of their alumni, friends or the surrounding community is not debatable. There is something powerful as well as beautiful in an HBCU’s ability to bring people together—united in pride, joy and inundated with love and appreciation for that particular institution.

You have participants from all over the country coming back to the institution that made a monumental, educational impact on their lives. It initiated lifelong friendships with fellow students from other cities and states or even countries. The real beauty in an HBCU homecoming reunion is seeing your fellow classmates renewing lifelong friendships only magnified by a multiple of celebratory events.

HBCU homecomings are made more sentimental and bonding when members from sororities, fraternities, the band, and members of multiple organizations meet and rehash old memories and give updates on the blessings and happenings in their lives. There are gatherings consisting of cookouts, dances, parties, step-shows, banquets, concerts, fish-fries and parades that culminate in tailgating and the homecoming football game—with parties to follow.

While participation in some homecoming activities may vary according to age (young adults or older adults), the parade and the homecoming football game are guaranteed to bring everyone together. Having the African American population come out to support historic HBCU institutions (that came about because White colleges’ and universities’ refused to educate people of color) only resonates our perseverance and resilience in showing this country and the world that we will prevail and rise—regardless of attempts to extinguish our light.

I only wish those African Americans attending homecomings at predominately White institutions could feel just a portion of what those attending an HBCU homecoming feel. The bond and pride felt is unparalleled. HBCU homecomings rock, because they represent greatness. HBCUs are unapologetic in their mission to inspire their students to go forth and serve their communities, while others universities tend to promote an “it’s only about me attitude.” This mentality could contribute to aloofness or coldness that keeps some students from bonding—and may be reflected in a homecoming.

Nashville would like to thank Tennessee State University for being the beacon and conduit that bonds our African American community together. We love you. Homecoming is a celebration to show you how much you are loved.