Missing homecoming is like missing a family reunion. It simply doesn’t happen.
However, for the first time in the school’s history, the historically Black institution Morgan State University canceled all planned activities for their annual homecoming because of gun violence that interrupted the sacred week’s events. Days later, fellow Maryland HBCU Bowie State also had to end their homecoming festivities because of the same violent act occurring on their campus.
What is Homecoming?
Homecoming at an HBCU institution is something that students, alumni, celebrities, and entire families anticipate all year long: Students guess which artists will be performing on the campus and what they’ll wear to impress their classmates. Meanwhile, alumni coordinate who will have tents for tailgating outside of the stadium for the huge football game.
I graduated from Spelman College in 2021, but was only able to attend two homecomings during my tenure. Weeks leading up to SpelHouse (Spelman/Morehouse) homecoming, I remember going to the mall, trying to find the trendiest outfits, somethings I even bought were customized for the most important weekend of the semester. I remember my classmates going to get their hair freshly done, just so that they would be the flyest person on the promenade. Professors knew their students would use their sick days or simply skip just so that they would make it to events like step shows, concerts, talent shows, and pageants. Any events that stood in the way of a homecoming event were simply skipped or canceled; you don’t miss a homecoming event unless you absolutely have to.
I remember being in contact with some of my family friends who were alumni, and them telling me where to meeting during tailgating, so I could get free food and drinks. It was like a Black family reunion. The smell of hamburgers, hotdogs, fried fish, seafood, and alcohol filled the air.
On game day, people would cheer as the school’s marching band and cheerleading alumni took to the field to perform their old routines alongside the current students. The scene was beautiful as I observed a sea of Black students and alumni moving around and looking their best.
At homecoming, we feel our best too, enjoying a few days to let all of the troubles of life fade away, which is why the events that occurred on Bowie State’s and Morgan State’s campuses are so devastating.
Homecoming is the last place you should expect violence and tragedy to occur. Nobody should be on edge about their safety during the happiest time to be on campus. Homecoming is meant to create memories for a lifetime, and it’s disappointing that violence is the memory students on Morgan State and Bowie State’s campuses last week will hold onto.