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Homecoming at an HBCU

Homecoming at an HBCU
Posted By: Kailen Olison on December 09, 2020

Kailen Olison
Homecoming Week at an HBCU

Arriving at William Exum Center on the Frankfort, Ky. campus, you will see a sea of scholars wearing Kentucky State University gear of kelly green and light gold and different colors ranging from gold,pink, or red and purple to blue representing the different organizations in the National Pan-Hellenic Council, also known as Divine 9 (D9). The new, dimly lit gym begins to reach capacity, strobe lights are flourishing in every corner. The crowd fills the basketball court on both sides; even the two- level bleachers are overflowing with excitement.

Not one institution in the United States can surpass the feeling of a homecoming experience at a Historically Black College or University. Imagine a week-long family reunion with different events on each day. It is nothing short of good laughs, good love and honestly a good time. Kentucky State University, for example, outdoes itself time and time again. In the month of October, the sun shines differently over the school on The Hill as we prepare for our beloved jointure.

“Hail to our Alma Mater, Dear is her name, and there shall be no other to surpass her fame,” you can hear us singing.

The return to The Hill brings excitement and thrills. The love The Hill gave us during our four years, six years, or even one semester, span ignites and brings us back yearly to hail our alma mater.

In 1886, Kentucky State University was established as State Normal School for Colored People with John Henry Jackson named as first president. The first building constructed on the 40 acres the city of Frankfort donated was a recitation hall (now Jackson Hall) and the institute only had 400 books and 650 pamphlets in its library. From there we’ve grown to a full-fledged university with more than 2,000 students.

However, 2020 has definitely been a year like no other. With the first case of Coronavirus being confirmed in the United States on January 20, 2020, the virus stripped alumni and students of their annual Homecoming experience.

Having to practice six -feet social distancing while wearing a mask at all times raised concerns due to HBCUs Homecoming bringing in large numbers of people from all across the United States. The concern of keeping a low number of capacities during the entire week-long event left many wondering how the school could make sure the visitors are not passing COVID-19 to ones on The Hill or risking spreading the virus back to their normal schedule lives.

Alumni always thrive on the opportunity to attend the week full of homecoming events that summarize the HBCU experience. Good memories surrounded by good people for a great time. The highlights of a normal homecoming week have to be the yard show, the step show, and the football tailgate.

Most HBCUs know that the heart of the campus is the yard. The yard is in the middle of campus where students and even locals come to socialize and ease up on life. When the sunshine is not breaking a sweat, yet glistens the melanin skin, everyone is eager to head to the yard.

The yard show welcomes alumni families and students as well to hang on the yard. Pop-up shops fill the yard ranging from Kentucky State gear to Greek paraphernalia to sun glasses and hats to food and drinks. Mainly these shops are entrepreneurs from the K-State community.

The Mighty Marching Thorobred band usually storms into the yard playing the Kentucky State classic, “That ****.”

“I told myself I wouldn't get out there and dance, but this is a tradition,” said one alumna who graduated in 2003. The K-Rettes and Silks dance to the beat of the drums.

The tailgate is one of the biggest events of the week--the cookout of the family reunion. Tents vary from sororities to fraternities, to family and friends and alumni tents. The wind carries the hickory smell of BBQ on the grill throughout Alumni Stadium. The cheerful noise of the Mighty Thorobreds Marching band and shouts and chants from fans of the Kentucky State University intrigue one to check out the game.

But not this year. There was no football and no cookout. Kentucky State University pitched ideas for a virtual Homecoming for 2020-2021 school year. The concert would be pay-per-view and held on an online streaming service. A lot of negative feedback came from that idea.

“Why would I pay to watch an artist perform when there’s such a thing as Youtube”, alumni Mariah Bailey stated.

Although there was no formal Homecoming for 2020-2021, President M. Christopher Brown promoted a mini-Homecoming at The Hill. On Oct.,7, The mini-Homecoming consisted of the Kentucky State football team having an intersquad game at Alumni Stadium along with the Mighty Marching Thorobreds Band. Surprise special guests at the event were musical artists Club Godzilla and Stunna 4 Vegas.

The memories of HBCU homecomings will forever live on. But this year, with no promises of tomorrow, we can only reminisce on the previous excitement that Homecoming did bring.
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