(TriceEdneyWire.com) – I will admit up front that I am a long time devoted fan of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) homecoming parades.
From ages 6 through 14, while growing up in Tuskegee, Alabama, me and my friends would go to Tuskegee University’s homecoming parades and march alongside the band as it marched and strutted from the campus to downtown and back. We loved not only Tuskegee’s band but those from the homecoming game opponents, especially the very creative band from Florida A&M University.
With that background in mind and knowing that Howard University was celebrating its 150th anniversary, I went to its 2017 homecoming parade expecting it to be a memorable, historic and spectacular event. I expected to see university fraternities and sororities, clubs and organizations, faculty and especially alumni, all marching with banners and/or signs proclaiming a historic celebration. It was not to be.
What I actually saw was a parade in which very few Howard alumni and students participated; one where various kinds of fancy cars were the main attraction. And not one of these had anything proclaiming Howard’s 150th anniversary.
What I also saw were students from Howard’s Residence Life Organization and others who were volunteers at the university chapel. The most disturbing thing I saw were the young ladies accompanying the bands from Howard, Eastern High School and Ballou High School wearing identical straight-hair wigs and enough make-up to sink a battleship, scantily dressed in tight-fitting, highly cut outfits. This, along with their booty-shaking dance routines, made them look like someone auditioning for a job in a Kit Kat Club.
The administrators from Howard and Eastern and Ballou high schools should be ashamed of themselves for allowing their students to display themselves in such a demeaning way.
The students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts should be thanked and saluted for their very classy performances. They looked exactly like what they are—creative black students celebrating homecoming.
Howard has too much of an illustrious history to present this kind of negative expression of a significant part of our cultural history. I speak from experience since it was at Howard that I had the life-changing experience of studying history in a class taught by the legendary Dr. Harold Lewis. I remember him saying the first day of class, “All of your lives you have studied the history of people of European descent. In this class you will be introduced to the history of the rest of the people in the world.”
That became my first delving into African American history, African history, Chinese and Japanese history and Native American history. For not providing the general public with a more mind-expanding, exciting, informative and, yes, entertaining homecoming parade, Howard University gets the grade of “F”.
A. Peter Bailey, whose latest book is Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, the Master Teacher, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.