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.
I attended Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi from 2007 to 2010. I started in the spring semester and, during the second week of classes, the entire college went to see Stomp The Yard together.
I don’t remember much about that evening but I do remember the parking lot transformed into an outdoor party which included, of course, step shows and various line dances. I remember Chris Brown’s “Poppin” playing loudly. I remember being surrounded by unspeakable beauty. And I remember quite a few of us sleepwalking to our various 8am classes the next day.
Those classes had broken windows and chipping paint but the professors taught like it didn’t matter. The power of Black colleges resides in its ability to create an imperfect paradise. It has the ability to slowly usher you into adulthood without being as harsh as the outside world. It can make your classmates new cousins and your professors—overworked and underpaid as they are—your seers.
Dr. Jamall A. Calloway is an Assistant Professor in The Department of Theology and Religious Studies at University of San Diego