By Ron Taylor
Scuttling homecoming at an historically Black college or university is like canceling a flight on the Concorde or pushing back a U.S. presidential inauguration a week or two.
And if such events are postponed to clean up carnage from a petty dispute over drugs, sex or hurt feelings, well, someone has to pay.
The gatherings shutdown this week affected not just college students, alumni and college wanna-bees. When homecoming was shut down, it squeezed the faucet on a flow of money that HBCUs can’t afford to lose.
Homecoming week accounts for $5 million to $15 million to most schools, according to the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. And that flow from hotel bookings, restaurants,gift shops, car rental agencies and clubs takes a big hit when bullets fly– not to mention the scores of parents who descend on campus to collect their children, remove belongings and return home.
At a homecoming celebration ten years ago on the campus of Morehouse College, where the first documented homecoming celebration at an HBCU occurred in 1924, fellowship was flowing, good feelings were blooming when the stirrings of fight emerged. A middle-aged man got between the two young men and said, “Not here. Not today.” Others stepped in to separate the warring parties and whatever was about to happen was over before it began.
This time could be a seminal moment in the rocky relationship the Black community has with crime. The shootings last week in Baltimore and Bowie were not from Ku Klux Klansmen or Proud Boys. It was people of color at war with themselves and the victims were homecomings at Morgan State and Bowie universities. Who is going to yield–college students and their parents? Or the misguided men and women who, as they dress for an evening out– at a historically Black institution no less–, say, “Where’s my gun?”