During a recent interview about historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Vice President Kamala Harris waded into “the real HU” debate that pits Howard University against Hampton University in the proverbial battle for HBCU supremacy.
Harris was speaking with Get Up! Mornings With Erica Campbell touting some of the Biden-Harris Administration’s accomplishments as the two campaign for reelection next year. One of the things Harris said she was most proud of was the work the U.S. government has done on behalf of HBCUs.
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“Folks said, pay attention to our HBCUs,” Harris told Campbell. “Now you know I’m a proud graduate of an HBCU. For money into those incredible educational institutions, and because people voted in 2020, we have now put more than $5 billion into our HBCUs. These are the kinds of accomplishments we’ve made so far.”
Later in the interview, Harris offered some choice commentary about Howard University, her alma mater.
Harris said she returns “as often as possible,” pointing out how she was just there less than a month ago to deliver her first remarks since it was announced that she and Biden would be officially running for reelection.
During that speech, as an example of her pride in Howard, Harris did a familiar call-and-response after the audience at the Washington, D.C. campus shouted “H-U!” by saying in return, “You know!”
And so it was no surprise that during the interview with Campbell, Harris addressed the longstanding respectful rivalry between Howard and Hampton University in Virginia — both of which lay claim to being called “H-U.”
Sounding as if she was about to say “I love my HBCU,” Harris seemingly corrected herself before telling Campbell, “I love H-U,” prompting playful laughter from them both.
“People who went to Hampton — the other H-U,” Harris added to more laughter.
Listen to the interview below.
To the uninitiated, Howard and Hampton have one of the most contentious rivalries in all of college sports, and is perhaps the most widely referenced rivalry in the HBCU community. From academics to athletics to marching bands to Greek life to campuses and more, the schools have regularly been pitted against each other for decades in a neverending debate over who is “the real H-U.”
Harris, the shrewd politician that she is, likely knew better than to call Howard “the real H-U” and possibly alienate not only anyone with strong feelings on the topic — this writer just so happens to be a sensitive Hamptonian — but also faithful members of the greater HBCU community, which is united by the common bond of the unrivaled Black college experience.
To be sure, Hampton and Howard are consistently ranked among the top HBCUs in the country, many times competing with predominately white institutions that typically have outsized resources in comparison to the Black colleges. While “the other H-U” and “the real H-U” are terms that are bandied about loosely by alumni and others in the HBCU community, when push comes to shove, there is always a mutual and strong love between the two H-Us — regardless of what you may see and hear when they play each other in football annually.
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