In this multipart series, HBCU alums share their favorite moments from their alma mater as a testament to what these institutions have meant to them.
The year was 2003 and it was the centennial Homecoming celebration of The UNSINKABLE Albany State University. And the turn up was real! Everybody was blasting Speakerboxx/The Love Below. Tom Joyner was on the yard and at the Civic Center for his legendary sky show. The “Heat of the Night” Party, the on-campus party for students that starts towards the midnight hour, was not to be missed. A sophomore at the time, I didn’t sleep for three days because I didn’t want to miss anything!
Homecoming at Black colleges are a sacred affair. They bring the colleges and communities surrounding them together like nothing we’ve ever seen. From the parties to the community events to the step show to the parade to the game itself but—more important than that—to the tailgating, Homecoming is a spiritual experience. It’s a sacred moment in time where we get to come together and just have fun. It’s about the joy of the achievements we’ve accomplished, friendships made and families created-all because we dared to choose the universities we did.
A third generation graduate of Albany State, it was amazing to see the generations of alumni—including my daddy and grandparents—on the yard for our 100th year celebrating our perseverance as an institution of higher learning. ASU is in southwest Georgia and has seen its fair share of challenges and triumphs. It was something else to see us come back to the yard to support us. It was seeing us, Black folks fellowshipping and supporting each other, that really let me know I made the right choice to attend an HBCU.
Among the many lessons I learned at Albany State and during that historic weekend, I learned that nobody truly sees me like other Black folks. It was being seen and celebrated by older alumni that made Centennial ever more exciting and celebratory. The power of Black colleges is that we are not just culturally bound- we are ancestrally, culturally and spiritually favored. Never underestimate our spirit. It’s the strongest currency Black folks got!
Dr. Regina Bradley is writer and associate professor of English and African Diaspora Studies, Kennesaw State University.