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The Hilltop


Column: Historically, Who’s the Real HU?

By Brittany Webb, Sports Editor
Posted 10:50 PM EST, Thurs., Sept. 15, 2016

Over the years, many have heard of the HU vs. HU battle, but there is no battle to be won as it should have never began. It is rooted in the bitterness of, the now, Hampton University wanting to be “the Real HU” when it reality, Howard is the blueprint HU. Hampton was just an institute until they decided to be an imitation.


In the 1800s, education for slaves and persons of color was hard to come by. Laws prohibited the education of Blacks and fear kept some Blacks from secretly obtaining an education. However, freed slaves wasted little time chasing after an education.

In 1861, Mary Peake, a free Negro held her first class under an oak tree, the Emancipation Oak to be exact. That tree would later be a landmark on Hampton University’s campus.

In 1863, General Benjamin Butler founded the Butler School for Negro children, which taught Negro children how to read, write and apply the laws of mathematics. On April 1, 1868, the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute was built adjacent to Butler’s school.

According to Hampton’s website, Native Americans arrived in Hampton in 1878, forming a Native American education program that lasted more than 40 years. During the time span of their program, a trade school was built at the school that offered instruction in several fields.

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Fast forward to the 1920s, Hampton focused on altering its curriculum with hopes of becoming accredited. New programs were created and old programs enhanced to meet Hampton’s new standard.

On July 1, 1930, Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute became Hampton Institute. After years of financial instability, educational development, increasing enrollment and overall growth, Dr. Williams R. Harvey structured an M.B.A. program and expounded upon the schools established programs. With increasing enrollment and the success of students, Hampton institute finally became Hampton University in 1984.

In 1867, approximately 181 miles away, one single building would become the sole building of a legendary university. That year on March 2, General Oliver O. Howard founded Howard University, the Mecca of HBCUs. The place-making university was built during a time where there was a rush to freedom amongst Blacks. This freedom included the desire to obtain an education.

Howard served as a gateway for some traveling to the North. Over the years, administrators of the university have expanded the land upon which the university sits.

According to Howard’s website, today the university sits on more than 256 acres of land that houses 89 buildings. More than 120,000 degrees and certificates have been awarded.

So is it really a battle?

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Howard had given out more college degrees than Hampton could have dreamed of in 1984. Granted, Hampton had graduates and alumni, but they didn’t have a college degree; they were given something in between a high school diploma and an actual degree.

Howard has been a University since its conception. It was HU first. And we will always be the first.

This sense of pride has spread throughout Howard’s student body, faculty and athletics for decades and does not seem to waiver.

The same (false) pride runs through Hampton’s student body, keeping the rivalry going.

One need not worry about the rivalry though. At the end of the day, we are all about one goal, and that goal is to progress and love as a people.

Hey, Hampton, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

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