Howard University is a major point on my journey from Brooklyn to the world. Nine years ago I moved to Washington, D.C., to continue my education at the greatest historically black university (lol, what did you expect for me to say? It’s lonely at the top.)
At the time, I had no idea how the experience would change me. I had no idea how being part of the HBCU network would open so many doors for me.
On our freshman move-in day, new students from all over the Black diaspora attend a pinning ceremony. It is there we are told “welcome home” and are officially made part of the Howard family. At graduation we crossed another milestone and were given the responsibility of reaching back and pulling forward other alumni.
This past weekend I joined my class #TWENTY11 in celebrating our five-year reunion. Shout out to the planning committee for putting together an amazing weekend and for my class raising 10K towards scholarships and services at our alma mater!
When I graduated from Howard, I thought the connections would be lost. But older alumni assured me it was only the beginning. And sure enough all of the love and support we were promised at our pinning ceremony has manifested in so many ways.
If it wasn’t for my Howard network and wider HBCU family, I don’t know how I’d survive the monster that is the post-grad world.
Many of my friends are all over the states now: Los Angeles, Milwaukee, D.C., Atlanta, etc.. When we link up it’s a special occasion because we don’t know when we’ll see each other again. But the love is still the same.
Homecoming allows us a moment to return to where it all started. It’s where some of us met our future spouses, best men, best women, business partners, future colleagues and future best friends for life. It’s where we learned major gems to catapult us into greatness. Our ties to Howard are forever and it grows stronger every year.
On Friday, I walked on Georgia avenue and saw all the changes happening due to gentrification (U street and Georgia was barely recognizable!). When I walked up 6th street to the Hilltop, the rain was pouring down. But none of that bothered me. The magnetic energy of the Bison spirit I felt on my first visit Spring 2007 was still the same.
Some people ask do HBCUs matter? Can you get the historically black college experience just by going to a PWI and hanging with some black folk?
Anyone who has the nerve to ask these questions doesn’t understand the history of these spaces, why they were formed and the unique culture that has formed because of it. Whether you’re alumni or a Black individual who visits to be part of the experience, you know these spaces can’t be taken for granted.
As I get closer to my third decade, I know too well the burdens that comes with being Black in America. We spend a lot of time enraged and rightly so. Some of us have become numb. We are people who have survived so much. But unfortunately, so many of us haven’t survived the marginalization.
To have HBCUs, black sororities and fraternities, black student groups at PWIs, etc. is so critical. Integration changed the law in the 1960s, but as we see in our current election cycle, the hearts of so many are still stuck in those times.
The weekend came and went so fast, but I documented as many moments as I could.
For my curious creatives, I used a 24m-105m lens. I’m still getting comfortable using my camera, but I see so much progress in this past year alone. I also used by go-to VSCO filter and did some additional editing to the photo’s exposure and contrast. Much of these photos were shot in the late afternoon, so it provided the perfect lighting.
Although cell phone cameras would have done a great job taking these photos for social media, I want to blow these up and turn them into a photo book commemorating the special weekend so that my friends and I can have them as a keepsake.
This year I’ve been all over the world, but there is no place like home. I’m currently having serious Homecoming withdrawal and I will be taking all the loving energy with me as I finish out the year strong.
Follow me on Instagram to check out more photos from my visual diary this past weekend.
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