A Requiem For 2020’s Lost HBCU Homecomings


A Requiem For 2020’s Lost HBCU Homecomings

When HBCUs first began to nope out of the 2020 homecoming season, we prayed to the football gods that, like coronavirus, it wouldn’t catch on. But alas, nope.

Howard announced its schedule, but then it remembered we’re in the age of coronavirus. In July, the esteemed Washington D.C. university decided its famous homecoming celebration would be virtual, and would include a call for advocacy

“Spelhouse,” the combined Spelman and Morehouse homecoming, also virtualized its weeklong in-person party. It has even given the “Homecoming@Home” event a name: “Undaunted.” 

Over in the Carolinas, Winston-Salem State University said the 10,000 expected campus to its planned mid-September homecoming needed to stay their asses at home instead of coming. North Carolina A&T, decided its homecoming, known as “GHOE” (Greatest Halftime On Earth), was a NO-GHOE. 

And just today, The New York Times published a longread piece titled “Welcome to Homecoming,” pulling at the heartstrings of anyone who knows just what is being missed by so many cancellations. 

COVID is shutting it all down one university at a time. Will there be any escape from quarantine? Any at all?

Last year, over 25,000 people attended the Florida A&M homecoming games, and Norfolk stadiums were no emptier. Those crowds would annihilate social distancing in 10 seconds flat.

In addition to the fact that some entire states have banned large gatherings, there’s even more blocking us from touching down: football players are testing positive for COVID-19. Infections are unavoidable unless we pack all our favorite stars in their own private bubbles. 

Wait. Can we do that? Please? Because it seems like the only poppin’ tailgates will be in our driveways.

The homecoming season depends on who’s got the bank for alternative events, and the campus wealth gap is hurting all the more in a COVID-19 ecosystem. And the cultural divide is as clear as ever. 

Homecoming is an important opportunity to collect donations from alumni, and we can wave goodbye to that as well. Many events also attract critical black dollars to black businesses, so the losses are broader than you might think. 

Rich PWIs (Predominately White Institutions) have replaced cancelled alumni events with virtual and informal alternatives. Most HBCUs don’t have that option. 

From all of this, there’s at least one thing we should agree on. Social distancing is necessary. 

Homecoming cancellations aren’t fun, but they’re the socially responsible thing to do. There’s always next summer, at least if we don’t put ourselves out of the game passing the pandemic. 

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