If you are like me, you wait in unbridled anticipation for the football schedule to be released. One date that I always circle on my calendar is Homecoming. Tradition reigns supreme as alum from all over invade Raleigh to see the Wolfpack (HOPEFULLY) whoop up on some mediocre opponent. Yet for a significant portion of alums this is just the FIRST homecoming…as there is a second one to attend in April.
This past week was the Pan-Afrikan Festival at NC State…noted by many as “Black Homecoming.” Just like any other Homecoming there are showcases, events, parties, award ceremonies, speakers etc…the only thing missing is a big game. Since 1970, Pan Afrikan has represented the close knit nature of the Black Community at NC State. More than any other PWI (Predominantly White Institution) State’s African American community has historically been tight with one another. Part of the reason is a program called African-American Symposium where in-coming Black freshmen cohorts would spend 2 days before orientation getting to meet one another, socialize, and learn in-depth about resources the University provides. This, along with a host of other support systems and organizations, builds to the goal of unity the week is all about.
Unity is fantastic but competition is where this week stands out. Instead of a football game to rally around, many students and alum gather for the annual National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) Step Show. Black Greeks (which is a multi-topic conversation for another day) take immense pride in the competition and, just like a football game, produces many highs and lows of emotions.Often, its the highlight of the week.
I said all this because I know that there may be some of you who question the purpose of another “homecoming.” Primarily, Pan Afrikan week is an event that is geared toward reconnecting with ones roots as an African American. It is technically a week for on- campus organizations and students to participate in events celebrating African American culture, but just like homecoming week, alum come in during the days leading up to the weekend to make their presence known. Many of the events that take place would have no spot during the homecoming festivities already planned. For example, dance & modeling troops often put on shows during the week that would be sure to conflict with other events. The annual comedy show, lecture, and step show could possibly attract a good crowd during homecoming, though culturally they don’t fit well during that week as they do during Pan Afrikan.
NC State, being such a large and extremely diverse institution, has numerous events like these to bring about cultural awareness among many different groups. Most of the time these events have plenty of the “culture” part but very little of the “awareness” as there isn’t diverse attendance. Hopefully, with just the snap shot given here you and yours may choose to dabble a bit in the “other” homecoming in the future.