The Harlem Renaissance Classic, held last week at CCNY, brought the HBCU experience to New York City. The Denzel Washington Performing Arts Academy band, cheerleaders, fraternities and sororities, step performers, and enthusiastic historically Black colleges and universities alums and basketball fans created a festive atmosphere.
The first annual tournament, which took place two days before the Thanksgiving holiday and was held at Nat Holman Gymnasium on the campus of City College on Convent Avenue, featured an NCAA Division II doubleheader between the HBCU Bowie State (Maryland) University Bulldogs and the Dominican College (Orangeburg, NY) Chargers in Game 1, and the HBCU Lincoln University Lions (Pennsylvania) versus the Bloomfield College Bears (New Jersey) in the second game.
The Harlem Renaissance Classic was conceived by Harlem native Darrell Roberts, a graduate of Lincoln and member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He references the names of Langston Hughes and Melvin Tolson, two of the most historic figures of the Harlem Renaissance, which spanned the 1920s and ’30s, as personal inspirations.
The HRC is not only Robert’s effort to highlight HBCUs to college bound youth and their parents, it’s a passionate, dedicated mission to help inspire youth in the community where he grew up.
“Sports truly has the power to initiate change, in our neighborhoods, our country, and the world,” noted Roberts. “It’s a unifying force to bridge that structural gap.” It’s his attempt at “breaking down some of the barriers that divide us.”
Bowie, founded in 1865, and Lincoln before that in 1854, are two of the oldest HBCUs, whose principal mission is to provide a high quality education for Black people.