***The outpouring of love that this piece has received is amazing – thank you! It’s a true testament to the love that we all share for this special place***
A couple of days ago I sat down and attempted to put pen to paper to fully describe what Hampton University means to me. In a succinct essay I wanted to express my feelings for the school, the magnitude of the experience, and the implications that the experience had on my life. After I looked over what I had written it just seemed as though I was rambling. There was an easier way to make you know and understand my love for Hampton University. If a picture says a thousand words, then you’re about to get an ear full. Hopefully the narration below will translate the depth of love that I have for my “home by the sea”.
When I talk about going back to Hampton for homecoming I’m often confronted with a look of disbelief, almost as if the person is saying – “how could your school’s homecoming still be relevant to you after all these years???” And the expression that I give back to them says “how could your school’s homecoming not be??? – you need to request your money back!.”
We may have graduated almost 10 years ago…
but we need each other now more than ever.
Hampton was more than just a place of brick and mortar…more than just a series of classes and requirements that led to a degree; it was a major experience that formed the foundation that would steer the course of the rest of our lives. I have parents and a deeply rooted family who believed in me and firmly planted my feet on solid ground from the beginning. One of the true gifts that they gave me was the gift of understanding the importance of the HBCU.
My folks graduated from Hampton University (original Ogre Phi Ogre class), my paternal grandparents finished St. Pauls College and my maternal grandparents finished Tennessee State University…just like many cultures have a tradition that’s handed down to them…the HBCU is a part of my family’s tradition. At this moment I am truly on the verge of belting out Reb Tevye’s TRADITION – TRADITION!! (Fiddler on the Roof reference, click here for full effect) …Why is this tradition essential? Why is it relevant? And why will it always be?
Because an HBCU affirmed that we were beautiful despite the standard images of beauty that were shown to us.
Because many of the people that we met at the beginning of our journey will undoubtedly be there until the very end.
Because an HBCU taught us what it means to have real friends, friends that you love like sisters – friends for life.
Because an HBCU put us through some of the roughest times.
And an HBCU made it possible for the times in which we rejoice.
Because an HBCU gave us our sisters.
An HBCU gave us a second family.
And as a family we celebrate each others’ successes…
We lift each other up and choose never to buy into the media’s negative depiction of who we are.
We are friends, scholars, leaders, mothers, fathers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, aunts, uncles, godmothers and godfathers, sisters and brothers who firmly remember from “whence we came.”
We will take our Hampton memories with us, firmly committed to let our lives do the singing and make new memories every step of the way. As we walk around the yard, even if we don’t remember names we remember the faces, we remember the moments, and we’ll never forget the people that came along on our journey. Because of the love and respect we have for our home by the sea, we will come back as often as we can to party together because we understand what it means to be family.
We may not see each other often but when we do it’s all love. Here’s to a lifetime of building each other up, to making many more memories and to holding this special place near and dear to our hearts.
– Much love Hampton family.