I am fortunate that I live in the same NE D.C. neighborhood and house that I was raised in. I have a son that was wise enough to buy it and hold on to it.
I did not go to Howard or any other college. My education was in Vietnam and running the streets of D.C. Both of my folks worked at Howard University in maintenance and administration for a combined 37 years. Growing up my folks and my brothers and I were at every sporting event, every Homecoming parade, every protest and all kinds of other events at the Mecca. That was our second home.
This past October, my brother and I went to the Truth and Service Classic game against Harvard University. Even though we were happy to be at the Mecca together again, we both felt like the game and the mood was not like it used to be and that it felt soulless. Totally different from when I came to the Classic versus Hampton. That was so beautiful.
I think that Kery Davis, the director of athletics, has impressive bona fides and that he has good ideas for growing the young men and women into fine student athletes. But I, and many others, have noticed that he seems obsessed with scheduling games against Ivy League schools, such as he attended and other PWI’s. This would not be so bad if it didn’t knock off the scheduled games against our sister HBCUs, including traditional rivals. It seems that Mr. Davis feels that in order for Howard U to gain status we must rub shoulders with these schools and entertain and hobnob with their students and administration. I resent that position because we are the Mecca, and all that we need to do to continue in excellence and honor is to be true to the standards and traditions that have carried us to the top of the Hill for all of these years.
Gentrification is insidious and it comes in different forms and places. Our neighborhoods, but also our institutions and traditions. Harvard will never compromise any of its traditions for Howard or any other HBCU. We should not compromise ours for Harvard or any other PWI. I fear that for the sake of money, status and the appearance of glamor that is what Mr. Davis is doing. It appears that he thinks that we need to be validated by association with these schools. That’s not to say that it’s not good to have relationships with PWIs, but our traditions should not be the price of those relationships.
Mr. Davis appears to be a great brother. But in a year or two or five, he will move on. All that we need to do is to take a look at the neighborhood around the Mecca to see that while we all shall surely move on, the evil of gentrification is that it steals away our neighborhoods, traditions and culture and then those things are gone forever.
Anthony Williams is a NE D.C. resident.
Copy edited by Jadyn Barnett