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The Big Homecoming, a new festival dedicated to HBCUs, recently announced the dates for its launch.
Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the festival will span the course of two days from June 17 to June 18. Created by executive and producer Amir Windom and music executive Maurice Slade, the Big Homecoming is meant to recreate the feeling at HBCU Homecomings and celebrate music and culture.
Throughout the festival, attendees will be given the opportunity to eat food from restaurants located in HBCU cities, interact with HBCU alumni groups and sororities as well as listen to HBCU bands. A marketplace will also be available where attendees can support Black businesses.
In addition to the festival, the creators are celebrating HBCUs through their 365 Impact Tour. With this program, they’ll be holding activities at the schools throughout the year to further pride and increase HBCUs’ reach.
During their visits, they’ll be connecting with students and speaking on topics such as business, finance, health, wellness, technology and more. The program will also increase opportunities for HBCU students by holding recruitment events and connecting them to different companies.
“The BIG Homecoming is a combination of all the best parts of each HBCUs Homecoming, creating one place for HBCU students, alumni and supporters to gather, celebrate and connect to enjoy the ultimate HBCU energy and soul that can’t be recreated,” said a statement from the organizers. “We are the first festival who’s impact goes beyond just the days of the festival. We are a 365 festival that creates impact throughout the year for HBCUs, the community and our culture.”
For more than 180 years, HBCUs have played an integral part in U.S. history. In 1837, the first HBCU, Cheyney University, was opened for Black students to learn skills such as math, reading, writing and industrial arts. Before the Civil War, only a few institutions, including Lincoln University and Wilberforce, were allowed to follow their lead as the South prohibited Black Americans from learning and the North didn’t encourage education for Black Americans.
Although some historic HBCUs such as Howard University were being created immediately after the end of the Civil War, the increase in HBCUs came after the passing of the Second Morrill Act. With this law, Black learning institutions were given land grants across the South and border states whenever land grants were given to white students with the intent of maintaining equality. While there wasn’t an equal division of land grants, 19 new HBCUs were created as a result of this law, including Tuskegee University, Langston University and Florida A&M University.
Throughout the decades, prominent figures have studied at HBCUs, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Katherine Johnson and Alice Walker.