The History Of HBCU Homecomings

linden high school marching band in parade
Briona Lamback
November 29, 2023

The annual game was here. Spectators roared from the steel stands while the marching band and majorettes tore down the house. It was always an exciting time, so much so that folks didn’t mind bundling up and braving the crisp Thanksgiving day air. 

Howard University and Lincoln University were about to face off, but this gathering was about more than football.

It’s a fall family reunion when our folks can drop their shoulders, let go of the world’s weight, and exist, finding joy in the familiarity and community around them. In 1924, Howard University welcomed alums back for the first time, taking homecoming from a football tradition to the multi-day event it remains today.

Homecomings didn’t start on HBCU campuses, but we took the concept and made it an illustrious celebration of joy and intergenerational community. From the camaraderie of attending the game and witnessing the Halftime Show to vibing on the yard to the gospel choir taking folks to church, it’s a rich tradition uniquely ours.

Even high schools in our communities join in the celebration of pride, culture, and legacy. Homecoming is a time to honor the past, enjoy the present, and come together to build and imagine the futures we deserve.

Homecoming reminds us that we’ve always been communal people interdependent to make things happen. Embracing the spirit of homecoming year-round is necessary in our movement toward liberation.

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