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Howard honors tradition, Michelle Obama pushes health

David Goodson | 9/12/2013, 3:52 p.m.

Welcome to the Chocolate City, the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.

In my case, it’s welcome back. I spent a few years there as a student at Howard University, and last weekend, I journeyed down to support the home team at the third AT&T Nation’s Football Classic. The event was created to celebrate the passion and tradition of the college football experience; recognize the history of service to others by the students, faculty and alumni of historically Black colleges and universities; highlight the unity of African-American culture; and honor the heritage and excellence of these proud institutions.

As a sidebar, it looks as if another tradition is underway as the Howard Bison once again prevailed for a third year in a row. The game was the height of an entire weekend of educational and entertaining events that began Thursday, Sept. 5 and included a presidential symposium, AT&T Kickoff Rally, Howard vs. Morehouse student debate and the Pepsi Fan Festival. Notable celebrity guest stars and performers included Grammy-nominated recording artist Ciara, who headlined the AT&T Kickoff Rally, and entertainment personality Fonzworth Bentley and actress Wendy Raquel Robinson, who co-hosted the rally. Grammy-nominated singer Raheem DeVaughn, E.U. and Mambo Sauce performed at the Pepsi Fan Festival.

While most of the crowd of 17,000 had a rooting interest in the game, hopefully, for a pocket of attendees, the game had more significance. Events DC donated 1,500 tickets to the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic to area youth.

“The AT&T Nation’s Football Classic is an event for the entire community,” said Erik A. Moses, managing director of Events DC’s sports and entertainment division. “As a celebration of education as well as athletics, we want young people in the District of Columbia to have an opportunity to experience the great traditions, heritage and culture of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”

One of the beneficiaries of the ticket allotment was the College Success FoundationDC’s HERO program, which identifies promising young men of color and encourages them to think about college before they make critical decisions that limit their choices.

“On behalf of the College Success Foundation-DC, we sincerely thank Events DC for their generous donation of tickets to this year’s AT&T Nation’s Football Classic,” said Herb Tillery, executive director of College Success Foundation-DC. “Their gift will give these middle and high school young men the experience of real college life and extracurricular activities.”

Additionally, students at District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) were in the house. “We are so grateful for the generous donation of tickets to the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic, which will allow our students to see this game live,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “It’s a game full of tradition and excitement and one that will create lasting memories for our students.”

For Henderson, her efforts in and around the Washington, D.C., area are being noticed by some people in high, high places, such as the first lady of the United States of America. Henderson, North America Reebok President Uli Becker, future NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal and Olympians Allyson Felix and Dominique Dawes joined Michelle Obama at Orr Elementary in D.C. to announce new commitments around Let’s Move! Active Schools, which aims to get physical activity back into schools.