This weekend I took a trip to Washington, DC to visit my cousin and partake in the Howard University Homecoming festivities. I’ve been out of college for about five years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever attended another university’s homecoming outside of my own- I did party at other campuses though.
I’m not really sure what I expected, but I was totally surprised. A little back story- I went to the University of Illinois (Urbana- Champaign), which is a predominantly white institution. However, during homecoming, there was an African- American homecoming, which I attended. Definitely a great experience to fellowship with people who looked like me.
I instantly started to get excited as we drove down Georgia Avenue and seeing so many African- American people all over the streets. After finding parking, my cousin and I walked through HU’s campus, then we headed over to the tailgate.
I’m not sure, if I forgot that Howard was an HBCU (historically black college/university), but needless to say I was in shock to see so many African- American people taking over one campus. It was a really beautiful thing to be amongst so many people of the same race, that didn’t involve violence, or having to fight for justice in some kind of way. It was a celebration. There were so many generations of Howard University students, past, current and the future babies.
For a second, I almost wished I had attended an HBCU just for the experience. Seeing the black greeks at HU projected a totally different image in comparison to being at a predominantly white institution. It just seemed to fit- black greeks, black university. Not to take anything away from the black greeks at other campuses, but it’s just different. The culture just seems to run deeper.
I was literally soaking everything in. During my journey of higher education, I have never been in an institution with all African- Americans. The closest I’ve gotten to that was watching movies like Drumline and Stomp the Yard, which both had settings at HBCUs. So, up until this point, HBCUs were a distant figment of my imagination.
Seeing so many alum returning to HU really makes me wonder about the lack of connection I felt to UIUC. I have yet to return for a homecoming within the 5 years I have been an alum. Don’t get me wrong, I love UIUC for the many experiences it provided, and the great relationships I built. UIUC was where I learned how to be an entrepreneur and where I discovered my passion; but that “black experience” was always missing.
It was just refreshing to be in an environment, where black culture was celebrated versus ostracized. Being black was the norm. Race didn’t seem to be an issue. I’m sure HU has its list of pros and cons, but this particular experience for me was nice.