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HBCU Homecoming

For the best HBCU homecoming, it’s Spelhouse vs. Howard

Howard’s Yardfest has made hip-hop history, but Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta together are magic

As homecoming season continues, many students and alumni of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been debating on social media about who truly has the #bestHBCUHomecoming. My Rhoden Fellow colleagues have been trying their hardest to present the best argument for their respective schools, but there is no comparison here: Howard University, also known as “The Mecca,” unequivocally has the best HBCU homecoming in the land.

“Ain’t no telling where I may be/ May see me in D.C. at Howard Homecoming.” – Notorious B.I.G., “Kick In The Door”

This year, Howard will continue to celebrate its 150th year with the homecoming theme of “NOW.” After a two-year hiatus, the Howard Homecoming Parade will return Saturday morning with television personality and actress La La Anthony as the grand marshal. This year’s homecoming week has also included two new events: the first-ever #YouTubeBlack FanFest, which featured performances by more than 12 YouTube stars who collectively have more than 16 million subscribers, and the Inaugural HU Ideas Festival, an event designed, according to a Howard press release, to “present, debate, and discuss some of the most important ideas and issues facing our community in the context of Howard University’s Sesquicentennial celebration theme — The Time Is Always Now.”

“Then jump in the car and just ride for hours/ Makin’ sure I don’t miss the homecoming at Howard/ Hawaii to D.C. it’s plenty women to see.” – Ludacris, “Pimpin’ All Over The World”

In football, the Howard Bison are hoping to get their revenge Saturday against Morgan State after losing to the Bears last season during Howard’s homecoming game.

And let’s not forget about the most anticipated event that is sure to continue the legacy of Howard Homecoming: the incomparable Annual International YardFest celebration. With past headliners and surprise guests who have included Common, Faith Evans, Fabolous, Lil Uzi Vert, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Pusha T, Big Sean, T.I., Jay-Z, DMX, Slick Rick, Naughty by Nature, Wale, Kanye West, 2 Chainz and Drake (with his surprise appearance and performance possibly becoming one of the greatest moments in Howard Homecoming modern history), every year YardFest attempts to outdo itself.


Howard University, which celebrates its sesquicentennial along with eight other HBCUs this year, is known for pumping blood into today’s hip-hop culture. Many artists — past, present and future — not only reference The Mecca but also shout out its homecoming celebration. (More than 20 hip-hop songs reference Howard or Howard Homecoming).

“Met her out in D.C., homecoming, Howard U / told her I’m the sickest n—a ’round, and how are you?”Wale, Chris Brown & Fabolous, “Pretty Girls” (Remix)

Whether my colleagues like it or not, Howard Homecoming is a part of hip-hop. Howard Homecoming is blackness. Howard Homecoming is a part of the African diaspora. Whether it’s all of the black fraternities and sororities from the National Pan-Hellenic Council (in which five black Greek letter organizations have been founded at Howard) displaying their best routines in the Annual Greek Step Show, Howard students strutting down the runway during the Annual Student Fashion Show or the reunion of alumni from around the world on The Yard on a Friday afternoon, Howard Homecoming embodies the true meaning of homecoming. And no matter who headlines this year’s event (as Howard builds the suspense until the last minute), Howard Homecoming is hands down the #bestHBCUHomecoming. In the words of the late Christopher George Latore Wallace: Uh, and if you don’t know, now you know!”

Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta have them all beat

The arguments for which HBCU has the best homecoming have started to get a little redundant.

From concerts to tailgate to nonstop “lituations,” the same events have been argued ad nauseam in a weak effort to prove whose homecoming experience is the best. The deciding factor that separates Spelhouse’s homecoming from the pack is the one aspect my colleagues omitted: location.

The truth is, all HBCUs possess a similar roster of events, highlighted by a step show, tailgate and concert. Whether you prefer Cardi B and Yo Gotti over Gucci and Migos is purely a matter of taste. What can’t be ignored is simple seventh-grade geography.

“We have the best homecoming because we’re in Atlanta,” said Justin Henderson, a Morehouse senior from Lithonia, Georgia. “Other schools do the same stuff as us, but it’s not the same in Tuskegee [Alabama] or Greensboro [North Carolina] or Hampton [Virginia].”

Sure, you could travel to Greensboro for GHOE (or GWHO, as I call it), or even Baltimore for Morgan State’s homecoming. But where better to celebrate black excellence than the black mecca of the South? The Spelhouse homecoming takes place in the heart of metro Atlanta, which boasts one of the highest black populations in the country, a stone’s throw from the new home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC.

Even without homecoming, you can always find something to do in Atlanta. But this week will be jam-packed with nightly celebrations. Kimya Loder, a senior at Spelman, puts it simply: “You can’t not have the best homecoming in the largest consortium of black excellence in the world.”

And she’s right. Atlanta is home to not only the largest consortium of HBCUs in the world but also the best wings, trap music and strip clubs. The three are intertwined in ATLien culture, with strip clubs serving as tastemakers on the Atlanta hip-hop scene and serving the best wings.

While Spelman and Morehouse traditionally combine their efforts to produce a one-of-a-kind experience, Clark Atlanta University’s homecoming happens to fall during the same week. This means the shenanigans will be at an all-time high in the Atlanta University Center (AUC).

The dual aspect of the Spelhouse homecoming puts it in a category of its own. It allows the possibility of two concerts: a neo-soul concert headlined by Jacquees and a hip-hop concert featuring Travis Scott and friends. Just expect to double the attendance at the fashion show, tailgate and the rest of standard events.

It shouldn’t even be a debate which HBCU has the best homecoming experience. Just from our location and this year’s AUC homecoming trifecta, the choice is easy. For those who need more convincing, look no further than Scott’s past concerts — only a handful of artists can match his onstage energy, and Cardi B, Gucci and Migos are not among them.

C. Isaiah Smalls, II is a Rhoden Fellow and a graduate of Morehouse College from Lansing, Michigan. He studied Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies. He was Editor-in-Chief of The Maroon Tiger.

Paul Holston journalism major from Summerville, SC. He attends Howard University and served as 2016-17 editor-in-chief of The Hilltop.