By Ariyana Griffin,
Special to the AFRO
Thousands of Howard University alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff and supporters filled the streets and institution’s campus the weekend of Oct. 21, showing their pride as they prepared to close out homecoming festivities.
Alumni returned, as they do each year, for the internationally-known celebration of all things related to the historically Black college/university (HBCU) experience.
“I have a lot of friends and great memories here. I met my wife here, so we try to do this annually, come out and rehash where we first met. We turn it into a date night,” said Larry Flagg, class of ’80.
With similar sentiments, Miss Howard University 2005-2006, Shayna Yvonne Rudd explained that it’s a tradition she tries to withhold every year. “It’s a tradition. We come out every year. It’s a form of self-care for me. We do a lot in our work life. Howard raised us up to be great, so most of us work very hard,” she said. “When we come back home, it’s to fill up our tank to be reminded of who we are, to connect with our brothers and sisters here. So, I don’t miss homecoming.”
For many first-year students, it was their first time exposed to homecoming HBCU culture, and they were not sure what to expect. “Well, I didn’t know what homecoming was when I first got here. I thought homecoming was like prom, but everybody was like, oh, it’s like a big event. It was completely different from what I expected, and it was pretty cool meeting up with many alumni and the events. So far, it has been 10 out of 10,” said Anthony Vaughn Jr., freshman major.
This year’s theme for homecoming is Revival, according to the university, it “signifies the time to recapture the enthusiasm of the past, rekindle our flames of school pride and reconnect with the stories and memories that make Howard special.” The Mecca kicked off its homecoming on Oct. 14 with a day of service and concluded on Oct. 22 with a chapel service.
The institution, aware of the tragic events that occurred this year at Morgan State University and Bowie State during homecoming season. Howard made it clear that safety was their number one priority for visitors, students and the community. The university expressed that safety is a shared commitment and that they have a strong proactive safety plan due to several forged relationships with law enforcement.
Deyla Davis, a freshman journalism major, expressed that she felt safe at homecoming overall. “I feel like Howard has been making it their mission to protect their students. We stay in groups like I think we know what to do to stay safe,” she said. “Obviously, there’s always going to be a threat somewhere. I think there were a couple of threats, but personally, I wasn’t around them. So I feel safe around here. There’s a lot of people out here, a lot of alumni, a lot of adults, so I’m fine, and I hope everybody else is fine.”
The institution’s colors of red, white and blue flooded the campus and stadium as people showed pride wearing Howard paraphernalia. The yard was packed with Black Greek letter organizations, families and music.
The Howard University Bisons football team competed against Norfolk State’s Spartans and took home the win with a final score of 27-23.
Ariyana Griffin is an AFRO Intern from Morgan State University.