As the second quarter ends, the crowd’s attention makes its way to the 50-yard
–line as the band, dance team and drum majors make their way to provide an experience of a lifetime. HBCU football classic are more than merely an annual game to be played. It’s a tradition and an experience like no other.
The Turkey Day Classic, Bayou Classic and Tuskegee-Morehouse Football Classic are just a few of the numerous HBCU football classics that take place. However, the most popular HBCU event is the Magic City Classic between Alabama State and Alabama A&M which first began in 1924 and has been played uninterrupted since 1945.
This “game” is filled with a week of numerous events: concerts, parades, tailgates, marching bands, football and so much more. But regardless of the year, HBCU classics — and specifically the Magic City Classic — all have one thing in common: the connection with tradition, family and culture. It has been an important part of these games and universities for over a hundred years.
The numerous events, players and experiences come together to continue a tradition that stems from the 19th century, creating a sense of community nationwide is a vital part of the Black experience. These games are a place where thousands of individuals from similar backgrounds have a sense of belonging and are represented through their athletics, art, music and culture.
HBCUs were created in the wake of emancipation to educate Black students who were not allowed to attend the numerous public and private institutions throughout the nation. During segregation, these universities were the only opportunity for many African American students to receive higher education and were the home to numerous civil rights activists who fought for equality during this time.
Today, these universities connect Black students with an exceptionally diverse community that is typically unavailable at many universities throughout the nation. HBCUs allow for a sense of belonging and community, where students from numerous diverse backgrounds can collaborate and thrive. This is why these football classics are such an important part of these universities and the Black community.
For such a long time, football was considered to be a white male sport and a symbol of the elite, white universities across the nation that excluded Black athletes. HBCU football allowed for these talented black athletes to have their own platform to perform
, as well as uplift their communities while showing the same pride and sportsmanship as the white universities. These games were more than football. They were an example of resilience and leadership that could only occur at these universities as a result of the racial climate at the time.
I have attended several of these HBCU football classics and they are an experience like no other. In my experience, one of the most important aspects of the Magic City Classic is the band. Seeing the dance team and drum major’s performances as you watch the band play is one of the most amazing parts of the experience. In fact, it’s one of the biggest driving forces for people to come.
Another major aspect is the community. Regardless of your team alignment, you will feel welcomed almost as though you were a member of an extended family. I have been to quite a few sporting events, and I have truly never felt a sense of community like the one that I felt when I attended the Magic City Classic.
If you get the chance, sit down to watch the Magic City Classic game on television. While you may not be there in person, you can still experience a tradition that spans generations and will hopefully continue for many more.
This post was updated at 4:15 on Oct. 31 with minor grammar corrections.