Black Joy

That time HBCUs took over Disney World | Black Joy – October 14, 2022

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It’s fall, y’all! The air is filled with beautiful leaves and the sounds of homecoming season from our HBCUs.

The grills are sizzling at the tailgate. The bands are going ham at the halftime show. The Divine Nine sororities and fraternities are stepping across the yard. These sounds come together like a hymn to our heritage. And we’re always here to hype up our predominantly Black institutions.

Now, as a daughter of an Alabama A&M University alum, I’ve experienced HBCU pride at a lot of places because one thing about us – as long as the food and music is on point, we gonna have a good time.

But never in my life did I expect to see HBCU bands marching down the streets of Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando. Nor did I ever imagine seeing Mickey Mouse bending and stepping in a drum major uniform. But the HBCU Week Foundation and Disney on the Yard made it happen last weekend during the largest HBCU week celebration in the foundation’s five year history. And y’all, they really brought homecoming to the most magical place on Earth with a lineup of events that included a parade, a battle of the bands performance and a college fair where 53 HBCUs offered on-the-spot admittance and $10 million dollars in scholarships to eligible high school students. More than 6,000 high schoolers from across the southeast enjoyed a weekend full of HBCU showmanship and scholarship.

But before we dive into those details, y’all know the drill. Forward this newsletter to your friends and fam ‘cause no matter what HBCU you’re representing, as Sister Sledge said, we are family.

– Starr

Dreams really do come true

DJahnel Reid is a high school senior who takes pride in putting people first.

She’s become something like a community service ambassador at Maynard Evans Senior High School in Orlando. After joining her school system’s Student Assistance and Family Empowerment (SAFE) program, she assisted her fellow classmates and their families during times of trouble by offering resources and being a safe and confidential friend to vent to about issues. She has helped feed the hungry at a local food pantry. She is also part of Elevate Orlando, a program connecting youth with college preparation and community involvement opportunities. Djahnel has clocked in more than 100 hours of community service (and counting!) this past summer and school year alone. Sis is doing all of this while maintaining a 4.2 GPA.

Now her village is showing all the way out for her. Djahnel was surprised with $75,000 in scholarship funds and automatic acceptance into her dream HBCU, Bethune-Cookman University, during the HBCU Week College Fair on Oct. 7.

“It felt so surreal for me that all I could do was start crying because of how thankful and surprised I was,” Djahnel said. “Never in a million years would I have thought I would be the one chosen out of all those students.”

The college fair is part of the HBCU Week Foundation’s mission to strengthen the high school-to-HBCU pipeline. They encourage more students to apply to historically Black institutions through events, by providing scholarship funding and assisting with employment post graduation.

Djahnel was chosen due to her servant’s heart and dedication to academic excellence. Not even the aftermath of a category four hurricane could stop educators at Evans high school from helping Djahnel be honored. When one of her teachers got a frantic text asking for Djahnel’s transcripts, the teacher treaded water to get to the school and get the job done.

Djahnel credited her father for her dedication to academics. Her dad pushed her to excel in school because he didn’t get a chance to attend college. Getting the scholarship money gave Djahnel and her family a boost of hope as her dad continues to recover from multiple strokes.

When Djahnel called her dad after the ceremony to tell him the big news, he was still coaching his daughter for success.

“He was just so happy for me. He was like, ‘This is just the beginning. There’s so much more for you to receive. Just keep working hard and don’t let this be a time when you feel like you can slack off because there’s a lot more things you can achieve,’” Djahnel laughed.

To learn more about why Bethune-Cookman became Djahnel’s dream HBCU and what she learned during HBCU Week, check out our video created by my Reckon sis/videographer Kavolshaia Howze.

Get lit. Leave them kids (responsibly, obviously)

Happy HBCU homecoming season Black Joy subscribers!

Alexis Wray here, Reckon’s HBCU and Blackness reporter coming at you this week with a story all about how Brittany Pettiford, a North Carolina A&T State University alum, provides safe childcare options so parents can get lit during GHOE.

First and foremost, if you don’t know what GHOE is… what rock have you been hiding under? Maybe I’m biased because I went to NCAT, where our homecoming is known as The Greatest Homecoming on Earth – GHOE.

“For me, homecoming means getting out to see people you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s nice to reminisce and appreciate what NCAT did for you,” Pettiford told Reckon.

Read more about how Pettiford plans to make sure parents and kiddos have a safe and memorable Aggie Pride experience this homecoming.

Since everyone’s back on the yard, the Black Joy team created a playlist with cross generational HBCU jams to set your homecoming out!

Spread the Black joy by showing off your HBCU pride! See ya next week!

The Reckon Report.
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