Revelers at the HBCU SpringComing on April 21, 2018, in Harlem.
Photo: Chuck Marcus (Kolin Mendez Photography)

Homecoming is traditionally a time for alums to return to their alma mater, kick it with old friends and pay respect to the institutions that (presumably) meant so much to them as graduates.

For the alumni who showed up at HBCU SpringComing this past weekend, it’s like they never left.

Lauren Grant and George Twopointoh are the founders of HBCU SpringComing, a three-day, New York City-based festival that started in 2015. This year SpringComing’s lineup consisted of everything from a hackathon (hosted by Twitter) to a worship service (because you’ve got to make time for the Lord).

Essentially, HBCU SpringComing is for folks who love homecoming and all that it entails but who just can’t make it back to the yard.

“People have weddings, babies are born, and you can’t always make it back for homecoming in the way that you want to,” said Twopointoh, a 2003 graduate of Morehouse College. “As opposed to doing it in the fall, when a lot of people are encumbered by other homecomings, we decided that the spring will be the perfect time to reunite this revival of spirit that we developed when we were at school.”

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Grant, who graduated in 2007 with an MBA from Florida A&M University, grew up in Columbia, S.C. Both of her parents went to predominantly white institutions, but Grant always knew that she was going to attend an HBCU because of the strong sense of community. Grant says that there’s a “homegrown heartfelt dedication that these [HBCU] students succeed that you’re just not going to get anywhere else.”

And this consciousness of community is the essence of SpringComing. Aside from the turnup (because what’s homecoming without a turnup?!), the festival pays it forward by contributing to the Puissance Scholarship, which gives money to HBCU-bound students. The SpringComing founders were also intentional about hosting many of its events at black-owned businesses.

We want to make sure that we are keeping it really as local and small-business-oriented as possible because we are small businesses,” said Grant, adding, “From a community perspective, it’s important for us to pour into [the black community] the same way it’s poured into us.”

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And while Grant and Twopointoh couldn’t agree on the best HBCU, they both believe that the HBCU culture is unmatched—their college experiences were invaluable.

Hopefully, more festivals like HBCU SpringComing can bring some of that black-school spirit to New York City.