By Bria Horsley, News Editor (@autobriagraphy)
If there’s anything on student’s minds this week, it’s more than likely Howard University’s sesquicentennial Homecoming. In preparation for the week’s festivities, an outline of events was shared on the official Bison Homecoming website a little over a week ago. Since the release of flyers and tickets, the most anticipated aspect of the week is who will be performing.
Steering committee changes and rumors have left students feeling in the dark about what to expect. In past years, the visible body that handled Homecoming was comprised of students who oversaw events and logistics. This year, however, the steering committee is being overseen by Development and Alumni Relations.
The Vice President and Chief Officer of Communications, Crystal Brown, described the steering committee as a partnership saying “This is more inclusive. It’s the whole entire community. I wouldn’t say that the students aren’t in leadership at all. Everyone has a seat at the table.”
The organization, 1867, which serves as an assistantship to Development and Alumni Relations has been tasked with executing the logistics behind the “NOW” themed event.
Imeirah Page, the PR intern for Homecoming 2017 and a member of 1867, says that “Essentially, they chose the students that had experience and aligned the positions with their majors. No, you don’t have to be a part of ’67. Really, to be able to work on the events, you just had to know someone.”
As far as the mystery of which artists will be coming to perform, Page says that the element of surprise is nothing new to Howard students. Each year, students are subjected to waiting on the edge of their seats to be blown away by whoever appears on the stage.
“I’m running the Twitter and the Instagram for Bison Homecoming and people are asking about the Yardfest lineup. We’re aiming to drop names between Wednesday and Thursday. I’m going to say Wednesday, but not the whole lineup. Just a hint. It’s not about keeping it a secret. It’s just that we’re waiting for it to be confirmed. We’re still getting contracts back from talent,” Page says.
Both Page and Vice President Brown said that the vetting process for artists heavily relied on 1867 students’ opinions. With a lot of concern surrounding the choices for relevant artists, the input from students will be satisfying to the student body, says Page.
Page said, “I think people are scared because they aren’t seeing student faces. We decided it wouldn’t be best to go out there if we had nothing to stand on. If we put our faces out there, we would be subjected to having to answer questions nonstop.”
In addition to the typical itinerary, there will be the first-ever HU Ideas Festival, #YouTubeBlack FanFest, and a return of the traditional Parade, which will be lead by Lala Anthony. The 5 panels will consist of the State of the University Address, Corporate Responsibility, Keeping it Real in Entertainment, Winning the Technology Revolution, and the Survival of HBCUs. The Keeping it Real in Entertainment panel will feature Nick Cannon, Laz Alonso, Lala Anthony, and Joi Brown, the SVP of Marketing and Brand Partnerships at Atlantic Records. The CEO of Ben & Jerry’s” will speak at “The Balancing Act”, which speaks to corporate responsibility.
Overall, there are plenty of surprises up the steering committee’s sleeves. Though students are anxious to see what this year’s staff is bringing to campus, there is no doubt in the minds of the Homecoming staff that it won’t be fun. Vice President Brown is confident that this will be the traditional Homecoming that it has always been.
Brown says, “My main hope is that nothing gets lost, the students are excited and Homecoming is the experience that everyone is looking forward to. That’s been our aim and goal throughout the entire process. How do we make this better than it was last year? How do we keep up the legacy of Howard Homecoming? Because this is monumental phenomenon.”
More than anything, Vice President Brown made it clear that the vision this year is to make the 150th year an occasion for everyone. The committee is dedicated to upholding the Howard legacy and having a enjoyable time. Page agrees saying that, “No matter what, everyone always has a good time at a Howard Homecoming.”