Guide to HBCU Homecomings: Survival Tips

Homecoming season is happening right now! HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) homecoming season is not for the faint of heart. If you saw Bey’s Coachella performance: the band, the dancers, participant interaction; it embodied the spirit of HBCU homecomings. If you are new to HBCU homecomings or it’s been 5 or more years since you’ve attended this post is for you. As much as I love homecoming, it’s hits a little different after 40. But I’m putting out a list of things to keep in mind to prepare and set your expectations to survive your HBCU homecoming experience.

Now if you’ve NEVER attended an HBCU homecoming, you may want a few tips:

BEFORE YOU ARRIVE

Secure your Housing

Where are you gone lay your head? Where are you gone shower? Where is your suitcase going to find landing? If you don’t have friends or family that lives in the area you need somewhere to stay. Get an air bnb or a hotel. That’s it. If you’re attending homecoming for a school located in a small town, you need to secure your room before the football schedule is released… or secure your spot in a friend’s room. This goes for alumni who haven’t attended in a while. Nothing grinds my whole soul more than for alumni to know homecoming is in October and it is AUGUST and you read, “Are there any rooms left?!” Good day mam/sir. The memes will show all of our thoughts on that comment. Your best bet is to call hotels after the credit cards holding the rooms don’t clear. Someone will post, “The hotel said they’re going to run a 1 night stay on Oct 1st.” Call October 2nd to see if you can grab one for the over inflated price. The only other option is a swap out with people who were coming but now they’re not. A room is something you can always give away, but you can’t always get one. Please figure your life out earlier.

Get Ya Stamina Up

to show a party at an HBCU homecoming

Squad goals for homecoming party

Pre-gaming for Homecoming starts at least 3 months in advance. So start incrementally increasing your sleep time weekly because Homecoming is all #TeamNoSleep. If you’ve seen the flyers for Homecoming activities they may come with the hashtags: #72HoursNonStop #48HoursTeamNoSleep. To get the FULLL experience, believe these hashtags.

Homecoming party turn up

Secure a personal Homecoming Navigator

If you’ve never been to an HBCU homecoming, you will need a tour guide. Please secure this person prior to attending. There will be so many events but you’ve got to know which events will suit your age range. Your guide can help you maneuver all of these events. In between all of these events your days and nights are full of walking, stopping, and talking. I don’t mean walk 2 blocks and see people, I mean walk 2 feet and stop; walk 1 foot and stop. Now if you are an introvert, please bring another introvert with you because you have to remember it’s your tour guide’s homecoming. She/he is not trying to hold your hand the entire time so if you can’t make “new friends” bring an old friend with you to hang out with and enjoy the vibes. Your tour guide will tell you which events to attend and how early you need to arrive on campus to secure a good parking spot. I have attended HBCU homecomings before and still need someone to help me navigate that school’s homecoming.

Remember the 3 Cs: Cute, Comfort, Casual

Homecoming is full of standing and walking so unless ladies you have high arches and cannot wear flats, I suggest you pack flats, wedges, and sneakers. As My girlfriend Tiffany stated, “It’s still and HBCU event so fashion is still important,” but comfort is the main point. That also goes for undergarments as well. If you want to wear ya cute painful shoes, wear them to the parties only but all events outside of parties will require a casual, comfortable, cute style! Now that we’ve got our tools, let’s head to homecoming!

DURING YOUR HBCU HOMECOMING VISIT

HBCU homecoming party

Homecoming party turn up

HBCU homecoming weekends usually include:

  • Comedy show: Thursday or Friday- ask who’s performing. This year I don’t know the comedians but there was the time that Charlie Murphy (RIP) performed.
  • Concert: Usually Friday or Saturday- We got Joe, Monica and someone else this year so I’m out this year but Frankie Beverly & Maze was a winner one year)
  • Parade- Usually around 8 am or 9 am on Game Day
  • Tailgating: Before and after the Football game
  • Game: Usually around 2 pm
  • Parties (based on your demographic): please find out if they are themed so you can prepare.

Let’s make sure you:

Have an arsenal

Two ladies enjoying a day on college campus

Hanging on the Yard- See the cup?

What’s in your arsenal to help you get through this weekend and especially game day? These items can be picked up when you arrive to your destination. There is always a Walmart/Target/Dollar Tree and/or a liquor store in the area. You need to have the following:

  • Water and/or Gatorade: My suggestion is 2 for 1- for every 2 drinks, 1 bottle of water. It helps. Gatorade or another sports drink can help you get those electrolytes. I’d even suggest Coconut Water that is not a chaser to help as well. Hydration is important.
  • Bring your own insulated cup with a top and straw: People run out of cups so bring your own- and a double plus–have ice in your cup– hot liquor isn’t the move on a hot day- neither is hot water.
  • Your own personal liquor arsenal: Everyone doesn’t drink what you drink so have your own mini bar.
  • Dill pickles and pickle juice and BC Powder: This is a new one for me but I hear it’s the best “snap back” from a drunken stupor. BC powder, as much as I hate the taste, works much faster than an ibuprofen pill.
  • Snacks: Drinkers need snacks so please have your favorite brand of chips, candy, crackers, nuts, or whatever so you can get through the day because there may be a long lag between meals.
  • Cleaning supplies: I mean personal items like Wet Ones, baby wipes, toilet paper, hand wipes, paper towels, and a real towel from the hotel. I mean you never know where you may have to use the bathroom and you’re going to need something to wipe ya butt with and if you don’t have jiggle and move around, please don’t. You may also sweat so hard you need to clean yourself up a lil bit and those wipes will come in handy.

Dress for the entire day on Saturday

You will not go to the parade, come back to the room to change and get ready for tailgating and the game… who has time to do all of that and better yet WHO WANTS TO? If that’s what you want to do, go ahead and fight traffic to get back to the hotel and fight it to get back on campus and then to find a parking space. May the odds forever be in your favor boo. I get on campus around 11 am just to secure good parking for after the game. Then we walk over to the tailgating area and then to the game. This all takes from 11 am – 5:30- 6:30 pm in the evening.

Tailgating

a picture of students tailgating at a football game

HBCU Tailgating

I don’t believe there to be a difference between a PWI and an HBCU tailgating. You walk, you chat, and you eat. You will hear a range of music taking you back to church, high school, college years or your “What the hell are they saying” years. If there are ELDERS at this tailgate, which there will be at many, please SPEAK to them before you go for that spicy sausage or that rib. Just walk over to the elders’ area (cause they’re usually all sitting together) and simply said, “Good Afternoon family!” You should hear a “hey baby, go get something to eat”, but it’s just about respect. Ya mama taught you better than that. Also, if there are no tongs for that sausage or brisket, GRAB a fork and get that meat, please don’t get cussed out putting your NAKED NASTY hands on that meat or in that bag of chips. You betta shake them chips on your plate! Throw your trash away in the garbage bags please. Also, say “Thank you” to the tailgaters, possibly slip a lil “coinage” as well, before you move on to the next RV or the next tent.

Halftime is Game Time

Alumni band as they exit the field during half time

Alumni band as they exit the field during half time

We do NOT leave the stands during halftime because the band is part of the experience. Truth is you already know this and it is part of the allure to HBCU homecoming experience. We are to watch and actively participate in the halftime show. Now sometimes other teams do not bring their bands because it is homecoming so you may only see one band performance. You’ll also hear check presentations, you’ll see the Campus Queen and her court, and always watch the alumni band. I love to see them relive their best lives when they were drum major or they were blowing those sexy saxophones during their college years. It’s so much fun to watch. After the band, we either stay for the rest of the game or return to the tailgate area. It just depends on your crew

There are so many other things that you should know, however, these should at least get you there and get you started. Homecoming is like a college family reunion. All things that happen there may happen at the HBCU homecoming you plan to attend.

A woman laughing while tailgating

The fun of tailgating photo by Anthony Calime

Happy homecoming season!!!

Go Tigers! #GramFam

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