The HBCU homecoming experience is truly like no other. This I know for certain.
As a undergrad at North Carolina Central, I remember waking up in my dorm room on homecoming Saturday to the smell of food cooking on grills and music blasting from tailgates. I’d put on my flyest outfit to go to the football game. Later on, my friends and I would head to the Greek Bowl, an outdoor party that would last well into the night.
Now I’m a NCCU alum, and I realize that homecoming on historically Black campuses is bigger than football games, tailgates or parties; they are a celebration of Black excellence, a moment to take pride in the beloved institutions that have nurtured our historic advancements.
Losing that experience to Covid-19 in 2020 was heartbreaking. But this year, with vaccines in arms and masks at the ready, HBCU alums are returning for those much-anticipated reunions.
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Not every HBCU is hosting a homecoming, of course. Some, such as Charlotte’s own Johnson C. Smith University, decided to cancelled again this year, citing an abundance of caution. And even those that are hosting homecoming events have scaled back their offerings.
All that said, here are three HBCU homecomings that are within an easy drive:
North Carolina A&T State University: October 24-31
In Greensboro, NC A&T has for the longest time dubbed its homecoming as the “Greatest Homecoming on Earth,” or simply GHOE. This year’s celebration has already kicked off, but without the school’s annual parade, Aggie Fan Fest, and the annual Student Activities-sponsored Greek cookout. Students, alumni and visitors will still have fun events to participate in this weekend.
- Friday, October 29: The NC A&T Homecoming Step Show, featuring the school’s fraternities and sororities, will take place at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. The show starts at 7:30.
- Saturday, October 30: The Aggies football team (3-4) will play Monmouth University (4-3) at the BB&T Stadium at 1 p.m. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Gameday purchases can be made at Sullivan Street Ticket Booth.
- Sunday, October 31: The A&T Homecoming Gospel Concert will take place at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, featuring gospel singers Fred Hampton, Koryn Hawthorne, Anthony Brown, and Pastor Hezekiah Walker. The show starts at 6 p.m.
North Carolina Central University : October 31- November 6
NCCU’s Student Activity Board has advertised this year’s homecoming as “The Return” after hosting a virtual homecoming experience last year. While the post-game Greek Bowl social has been canceled, many of the other traditional events are available.
- Sunday, October 31: NCCU’s Gospel concert will feature performances by gospel singers Le’Andria Johnson and Jonathan McReynolds at the McDougald-McLendon Arena. Showtime is 5 p.m.
- Thursday, November 4: R&B singer Jacquees and rapper Key Glock will be the featured performers at NCCU’s Hip Hop Concert. The event will be held at McDougald-McLendon Arena, beginning at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, November 6: NCCU’s football team (3-4) will play Norfolk State (5-2) at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium at 2 p.m.
Claflin University : November 13-20
Claflin, located in Orangeburg, SC, canceled its 2020 homecoming. This year, all guests must be vaccinated and show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours to participate in any of the events below.
- Thursday, November 18: Claflin’s Homecoming Concert will feature female rapper Mulatto at the Orangeburg Fairgrounds at 8 p.m. Tickets will be available on November 1. Check the school website for additional information.
- Friday, November 19: CU “Wine” Down, a social event featuring food, music and cocktails, will take place at 9 p.m. at the Garden Room located in Orangeburg Mall.
- Saturday, November 20: Because Claflin doesn’t have a football team, the school will host a Homecoming Basketball Doubleheader at the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Center’s Tullis Arena. The Lady Panthers will play Voorhees College at 1:30 p.m., and the men’s team will play Voorhees College at 3:30 p.m.
- Saturday, November 20: National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek Step Show will be held at 8 p.m. in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Center’s Tullis Arena. Ticket availability will be announced on the school’s website.
In keeping with pandemic protocols, visitors at each homecoming are asked to practice social distancing and wear face coverings.