Homecoming is once again upon us.
A Howard University tradition that dates back to 1924 marks the return of thousands of bison to their esteemed alma mater. What makes this homecoming special, is its welcoming of in-person alumni participation for the first time in three years.
Since our last fully in-person homecoming, Howard University has been met with numerous extraordinary events– a global pandemic, a 34-day historic protest, cyber attacks and bomb threats, to name a few. It seems as though the word that our community has heard the most during this time is “unprecedented.”
However, amid our challenges, we have also witnessed this university excel. During Howard Pride month, the Howard University Student Association executive branch hosted the first ever Howard Pride Fest, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Two weeks ago, dozens of Howard alumni once again returned to the Mecca to celebrate the accomplishments and the significance of Black writing, as the Moorland Spingarn Research Center hosted the International Black Writers Festival. Earlier this school year, the university announced its 20-year partnership with Jordan Brand, bringing a fresh look for students on campus. We have also come together in new ways, such as the #HUCares event hosted on the yard, calling for community and love in the face of adversity.
For many of us, this homecoming brings a completely new experience. As anticipation for the week full of events approached, conversations of what homecoming was like in the past filled the dorm rooms, hallways and classrooms of eager students. Conversations often centered around “old Howard” versus “new Howard,” a phrase many students have used to describe the difference in campus culture as a result of remote learning due to the pandemic.
One can not deny that there is a new cultural presence here at the university. There is only one class at Howard currently who has experienced a homecoming prior to the pandemic. However, rather than reject this change, the Howard community should embrace the cultivation of what can be a more inclusive and inviting atmosphere for everyone on campus.
Homecoming is a time for Howard to reflect on our unique history, while coming together to celebrate our journeys at the university that connects us. During this week, we must remember that there is no “new Howard” or “old Howard,” but one continuous community of talented individuals committed to truth and service.