BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA–For historically black colleges and universities across the country, it is homecoming week because this year, YouTube is holding a virtual homecoming celebration on Saturday at 7pm. Its a fundraiser where the proceeds will be collected by the United Negro College Fund.
It’s been a difficult year for education in general. Louisiana’s colleges have dealt with multiple hurricanes, most campuses have implemented temperature checks, virtual classrooms and mask mandates. However, in addition to the pandemic, HBCU’s are in the middle of America’s discussion on race. It’s an election year and both candidates have addressed answers on how they will help HBCU’s continue to survive; also one of the Vice Presidential candidates is a product of an HBCU, as well as a black sorority.
“A HBCU, homecoming is everything for us. It’s more than the football game. It’s the opportunity for us to reconnect. We need to celebrate and ignite conversation while there’s a highlight on HBCU’s because of Black Lives Matter, because HBCU’s are mattering more on a global campaign,” says LaQuitta Thomas the National President of the Southern University Alumni Federation.
Kedrick Taylor is the Director of Bands for Southern University’s marching band the Human Jukebox and says, “people are being creative, while going through this pandemic, not giving up and saying that we are not going to celebrate college life at all. We want to bring that Southern spirit to all of our fans around the nation.”
The Human Jukebox submitted a performance for the virtual homecoming that highlights the influence of the legendary music educator Dr. Isaac Greggs.
The virtual performance is right on time, as HBCU’s this fall are very quiet, with the SWAC holding off on a fall football season. Recently, Southern University and Grambling made the tough decision to push the Bayou Classic until the spring and it will not be in New Orleans, but in Shreveport. Thomas says, “I’d like for our beginning freshman to know that this pandemic struggle is just for a season. The best is yet to come and things will not look like this always. That’s the relationship, the culture, that’s the tradition, even in a pandemic.”
The most beautiful part of homecoming is seeing the many generations of alumni together cultivating the current matriculating students. However, in the absence of normality, YouTube’s virtual homecoming has a very unique opportunity. Everyone has the chance to attend. Though we may be socially apart, homecoming is where the heart is.