As we watch 2021 come to a close, we are reminded that this year was filled with some great moments for HBCUs and the Black College community.
From politics to sports and everything else in between, we have seen HBCUs and their alumni represent and show out for the culture.
We decided to take a look back at some of the best moments that the HBCU community had to offer in 2021.
10: Chadwick Boseman gets honored at Howard
The legendary actor was honored earlier this year by his alma mater when Howard renamed their College of Fine Arts after him. Chadwick Boseman is known for his iconic roles as Black Panther, Jackie Robinson and James Brown. The Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts will serve as a way to continue the legacy of the renowned actor and Howard grad who passed away in 2020.
9: WSSU student Chris Paul makes first NBA Finals
Many people were shocked earlier this year to find out that NBA star Chris Paul was enrolled at Winston Salem State University as a student. Paul, who has been a strong advocate for HBCUs for years, finally made his first NBA Finals appearance when his Phoenix Suns met the Milwaukee Bucks in the league’s championship round. Paul and his Suns squad lost to the Bucks in 6 games but the NBA legend was able to bring a ton of attention to HBCUs during his playoff run. Paul would later orchestrate two basketball tournaments in 2021 for HBCU programs to gain more exposure for these institutions.
8: Michael B. Jordan’s HBCU Legacy Classic
Michael B. Jordan’s Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic was an event that put HBCUs on a national stage. Similar to Paul’s event, the Legacy Classic gave HBCUs a chance to be on a national platform and create an awareness and buzz around these institutions. Programs like Delaware State, North Carolina Central, North Carolina A&T and Howard were able to battle it out on the hardwood and create an opportunity for HBCUs to be seen and supported.
7: South Carolina State Upsets Jackson State in Celebration Bowl
In one of the most anticipated Black College National Championship games in history, South Carolina State dominated Deion Sanders and the Jackson State Tigers in Atlanta. It was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Celebration Bowl because of the hype surrounding Sanders and the JSU program. It was also the highest attended Celebration Bowl in history with more than 48,000 people in the stands and one of the most-watched with more than 2.5 million people tuned in at home, according to Showbuzzdaily.com.
6: JR Smith becomes a student at North Carolina A&T
Former NBA fan favorite JR Smith made headlines earlier this year when it was announced that he would enroll at the largest HBCU in the country, North Carolina A&T, and play golf for the Aggies. Smith going back to school was both an inspiring and intriguing story for HBCU culture. The former NBA guard finished his first semester with a 4.0 GPA.
5: HBCU athletes star in Olympic Games
HBCU athletes made their mark on the Olympic Games this year. Both current student-athletes and alumni were showing up and showing out on the world’s biggest stage. The North Carolina A&T Aggies alone had four track and field athletes representing their respective countries. Smaller schools like Savannah State, Johnson C. Smith, Livingstone and track and field powerhouse Saint Augustine also had athletes competing in the world games.
4: Meg Thee Stallion graduates from Texas Southern
The Hot Girl made a splash in the HBCU culture by completing her undergraduate journey at Texas Southern University. Meg Thee Stallion graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health administration. Meg is arguably the hottest rapper out right now, male or female, and seeing her graduate from an HBCU only brought positive attention to the brand of Texas Southern and the rest of the HBCU Community. She will also sponsor a full-tuition scholarship for a student at the Roc Nation School of Music, Sports, and Entertainment.
3: HBCUs cancel student debt
This was also a great year for HBCU students to get a few of their bills paid. Many HBCUs used the coronavirus relief funding given by the federal government to impact the lives of their students. More than 20 historically Black colleges and universities have used the relief to cancel out any debts that students may owe the school with no strings attached. Meharry Medical College, a historically black medical school in Tennessee, gave its students $10,000 as a Thanksgiving present to help them get through the holidays.
2: Travis Hunter chooses Jackson State
This was arguably one of the biggest developments for HBCUs all year. Travis Hunter is a high school football player widely regarded as the top college recruit in the nation. Dramatically, the 5-star prospect decided to de-commit from college football powerhouse Florida State University and sign with Deion Sanders and Jackson State. The unprecedented move caused a major stir in the college football landscape and advanced the conversation about other top Black college athletic recruits taking their skills to HBCUs.
1. Kamala Harris gets inaugurated as Vice President
We can’t forget how Howard grad Kamala Harris became the first woman, first African American and first South Asian-American to become Vice President of the United States. While Harris and President Joe Biden officially won the election in 2020 she wasn’t inaugurated and allowed to officially start her term until earlier this year. Harris broke through a glass ceiling that many people in our community only dreamed about. We have to celebrate this groundbreaking moment.