Today, We Are All Howard Bison! #MissionPossible

HBCU culture needs to celebrate our collective wins — like Howard U.’s upset win over UNLV.

Photo credit: Howard University Athletics

Yesterday, the Howard University Football Team beat the pants off the University of Nevada — Las Vegas Running Rebels. Okay, a 43–40 victory may be considered nominal, but given that Howard was a 45-point underdog at UNLV in what ESPN has dubbed “the largest point-spread upset in college football history,” this a win for the ages. And, indeed, it is a win for HBCUs everywhere!

Y’all, we need to seriously relish this moment of #MissionPossible. And today, every member of HBCU culture everywhere can be at the very least an honorary Bison. We need to be wearing our institutional t-shirts as well as those of other HBCUs too — and I’m not talking about just when running out to the grocery store on the weekends.

We need to stop seeing every other HBCU as a rival and start seeing each other as allies and family — even if we’re not always friends. I can wear the gear of my alma maters, Fisk and Tennessee State universities, as proudly as I wear Kentucky State University, and as gladly as I wear the gear of any HBCU, anywhere.

We’ve had opportunities like this before, but they are too few and far between. The most recent was with the release of the Girls Trip, and before that was the movie Hidden Figures.

Hidden Figures, for example, was arguably the single best case for black college relevance in a long, long time. Black Greek-Lettered sororities and fraternities, led by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., led the charge with the challenge to BGLO members to wear their organizational paraphernalia. But HBCUs, especially West Virginia State University, dropped the proverbial ball. West Virginia State University should have led another challenge—a challenge of all HBCU graduates and supporters to proudly don their school colors en masse to theatres in support of the film.

Physicist and mathematician Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson—a West Virginia State University alumna—turned 99 on Aug. 26, might just as well have gone to the moon herself because the distance from the segregated foot hills of West Virginia to hand-calculating the the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space may have been further, having required just as much, if not more sheer will and undeniable genius.

So, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: the fate of all HBCUs is inextricably linked. While we tend to rise and we fall together, the latter is more easily achieved than the former. HBCUs cannot afford to be less unapologetically black than black cultural centers on traditionally, predominantly white college campuses.

There will be other wins. To be clear, the Bison’s season opener win against UNLV followed other spirited wins for the culture including Tennessee State’s upset over Georgia State (17–10) and Albany State beating Valdosta State (29–12), just this weekend alone.

Today, let us all be Howard U. The Capstone. The Mecca. The mission is indeed, possible. It is all of us. Weoutchea winning, and we gotta know it.

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Bahamian-born "HBCUstorian" Crystal A. deGregory, Ph.D. is director of the Atwood Institute for Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. She a dynamic professional historian and a passionate Historically Black College and University (HBCU) advocate. A graduate of the historic Fisk, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee State universities, she is the founder and executive editor of HBCUstory, convener of the HBCUstory Symposium, and editor-in-chief of The Journal of HBCU Research + Culture. A passionate believer in the historic mission and future vision for HBCUs, her primary areas of specialization are black higher education and the civil rights struggle.

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