EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The 2023 Toyota Historically Black Colleges and Universities New York Classic was held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Saturday.
The football game was between Morehouse College and Albany State in Georgia and marks the start of HBCU Homecoming Week, bringing the event to the Tri-State Area.
Thousands packed MetLife Stadium to watch the game, but fans, students and alumni from dozens of HBCUs who tailgated beforehand told CBS New York it’s all about coming together as a family.
“Just to meet the alumni from Historically Black Colleges, just to have conversations and our opinion on what’s happening in the Black community,” Long Island resident George Grigg said.
From the halftime show with Big Daddy Kane and the Battle of the Bands to music in the parking lot, there was lots to do from enjoying food to taking part in different activities.
For the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity’s Beta Psi Sigma chapter, the day was about raising scholarship money for Black students.
“It’s a fundraiser we use for our education program, so we do it every year when we can when they have the event,” fraternity member Deryk Hammett said.
“Our sole purpose is to raise money for scholarship funds because this is what the proceeds go to,” fraternity member Rich Peay said.
“The scary part about it is HBCUs were formed because back in the day, we weren’t allowed to go to predominately White institutions, so they were formed so that African Americans could go to a place of higher learning,” said Julius Grant III, with Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment, the media group organizing the event.
He says today, HBCUs have grown to become a safe haven for African American students seeking higher education. All week, he says, sponsors have been holding career expos and high school education days.
“When we consider HBCUs, it’s a homecoming every game, their rivalry back and forth, but it’s a homecoming so it’s the ability for fraternities and sororities to come out and celebrate, bands, cheerleaders, the people who are interested in football,” Grant said.
“I have been running buses back and forth to these games. I am proud parent of an HBCU student,” said April Fann, of Waterbury, Connecticut.
“It’s very important, and I think it’s amazing everything they do for it,” said Sabrina Eason, of Waterbury, Connecticut.
In addition to Toyota, many other companies like Wells Fargo and MetLife sponsored the event and provided thousands of dollars in scholarship money for Black students.