This past weekend in the capital of African America—Atlanta—a gathering of Black Excellence took place on hallowed grounds in the city’s West End neighborhood. SpelHouse, the famed and noble portmanteau of two of Black America’s most illustrious and storied institutions—Morehouse College and Spelman College—celebrated its annual homecoming. For those of us who come every year to bask in a tradition unlike any other, it’s a time of soulful rejuvenation and spiritual replenishment. For those who have never been or only come sporadically, it’s both an opportunity to reintroduce ourselves and/or show you how we do this, son.
Since HBCU Homecoming SZN is my favorite time of the year and because, SpelHouse’s Homecoming, in particular, is (of course) my favorite, I’d like to share some reflections from this past weekend...coming all the way live from Westview Drive.
1. There’s literally no way I can do this without starting with the most obvious. I’m not saying God (or whoever you pray to) loves SpelHouse Homecoming more than any other institution’s homecoming. What I will say, though, is that God clearly loves SpelHouse’s Homecoming. For two straight years, we had rain in the forecast for our tailgate on Saturday. At SpelHouse, that’s our big thing—if you pay attention to Black Homecomings, there is no doubt you’ve seen pictures of our tailgate.
For two years, I’ve even written prayers, asking for God and Mother Nature to spare us. AND FOR TWO STRAIGHT YEARS, God came through. Every single person who was coming down had been GLUED to various weather forecasts and all of us had been holding out hope that we’d be spared; lo and behold, the rain held off until around 5 pm this Saturday and once it stopped, the whole homecoming revved ALL THE WAY BACK UP. I’m not saying that God even listens to me ‘pacifically, but errrrrrrum...you’re welcome, SpelHouse.
2. There is absolutely no feeling like that of wading through the waters in The Sea of Black Excellence that is the bazillion black folks on our campus for the tailgate. Whew, Lawd. Seeing faces of folks I barely know but I know because we spent a whole four years in the same spot together trying to make it in America is awesome. We may dap each other up or share a sincere hug once a year, but that bond can definitely get you to next October. And if that doesn’t work (and you’re not already), go on ahead and hop into that Morehouse & Spelman Facebook group that has literally become the first thing I check when I get on Facebook 60 percent of the time, every time. Point is, it feels good—and if loving homecoming is wrong then I don’t want to be right.
3. There was a time when talking with other HBCU alums about homecoming and which ones were the “best” (a long-running debate that SpelHouse often gets left out of, for some odd reason) that people said our homecoming was too “exclusive.” Basically, if you didn’t go to either Morehouse or Spelman, then you didn’t feel welcome. And you know what, maybe that was the case. I don’t understand that at all, but when you’re part of something it’s hard to see the other side.
That is clearly not the case anymore. I’ve never seen this many people at our homecoming before and I’ve never seen this many folks clearly from other schools, or the local community, there before. It wasn’t just the SpelHouse community out there on Saturday, it was the Black Community out there on Saturday. Around 4:30 pm, EVERY street was totally packed. Morehouse’s campus was packed. The scene was so thick. All the players. All the hustlers. I’m talkin’ about a black man heaven here. Point is, if we didn’t used to be a destination homecoming, we are now. I promise.
4. This year, I came in Thursday instead of Friday and boy, is that clutch. Usually, I’d fly in on Friday afternoon and make a mad dash to the liquor store, get some food, and pre-game with the homies before we head to Sepia Soul (my crew’s chosen annual must-do homecoming event). This year though, I got to hang out on campus all day Friday and go to Market Friday (I have no idea why it’s no longer “Fashion Friday,” though admittedly Market Friday makes more sense), and let me tell you something: That Friday at Spelman was like a mini-Saturday. Food trucks, TONS of vendors, so many folks, folks steppin’, DJs...it was a whole ass precursor to Saturday and I saw SO SO SO many people there. I always remember going over there, usually to make sure I revel in the gloriousness that is Spelman College, but it felt like a total party and, well, good damn job. I was very happy to be there. Thursday it is, from here on out.
5. There will be more on this later, but my nephew was present for Morehouse’s prospective student Open House and it was kind of cool to see the full court pitch and press given to students and parents. But more so, it was kind of cool to walk around campus with my nephew and show him what life looked like for me and my boys while we were students there. I walked past my freshman dorm and pointed it out to him (this was probably on Saturday, actually—White Hall 126) and showed him Kilgore. I have no idea if he’ll go to Morehouse or not (some of that is on Morehouse and that financial aid), but I’m pretty sure he saw enough to know that even if he isn’t there...he’s missing out! Also, Spelman College and Tailgate are ABSOLUTELY both Big Jokers. The poor lad’s head was on a swivel.
6. I love Morehouse and I love Spelman with my whole heart. That’s it. Just had to make sure I said this.
7. The Homecoming Challenge? Maaaan listen. Gangbusters this year. There are a whole lot of students in the AUC doing a little bit better than they were on Thursday because now they have a whole crew of big brothers and sisters (and maybe even some aunties and uncles) to call. Shouts out to the whole crew behind the cause for leveling it all the way up.
8. Words cannot accurately reflect how sad it is when homecoming is over. I should know, I’ve been searching out various thesauruses for a word more sad than “sad.” When I left my boy’s house, I actually turned around and said goodbye to his condo and it took me a few minutes to close the door because it felt so symbolically like I closed the door on the weekend. I want to say I need another day but I probably need it to last forever. When the first homie landed back in Baltimore and a text hit that said, “And like that, Homecoming is over once again.” I stared off into the AUC Heavens and reflected on the unfair favor that I’ve been given to be part of this experience. Favor may not be fair, but God loves SpelHouse Homecoming and I do, too. Won’t he do it? He said he would.
Until next year. I love us. For real.