Since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month America has had an awakening unlike anything since the late 1960s. It has mobilized Black folks to think outside the box and to contemplate, what if?
What if we start doing things differently? What if we took control of our multitude of resources and began to set the narrative ourselves?
One of those “what ifs” has started making the rounds. What if the immense talents of the thousands of uber-talented high school football, basketball, and others began to look at HBCU’s to attend and become student-athletes instead of matriculating to historically white universities?
What if that five-star running backs, instead of going to Alabama, went to Alabama State?
Or the four-star linebacker from Charlotte decided instead of Clemson; he would attend North Carolina A&T?
It is quite fascinating to consider the ramifications this would have on college athletics all across the board.
I have always contended if you are talented enough, they will find you, whether, in Tuscaloosa or Orangeburg; talent still prevails.
Once upon a time, there were powerful football programs throughout the south, and I don’t mean in Athens or Auburn. I mean in Grambling, Jackson, Pine Bluff, and Huntsville. These were the robust college football programs that sent 29 men to the NFL Football Hall of Fame and hundreds of others onto successful and outstanding careers.
So, what if we do it again? It is a movement that seems to be gaining steam, and HBCU grads — especially parents — coaches, and mentors of these student-athletes need to keep the information pipeline going into these young people’s minds.
However, there will always be some who’d argue that things will never change.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, known as “CJ” is a current member of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. Gardner-Johnson, who attended the University of Florida, was a four-star prospect and 42nd ranked player in the nation (according to 247 Sports) coming out of high school in Cocoa, Florida.
On Thursday CJ tweeted, “I respect and love every part of HBCU’s but ima going to be real , these kids not going to settle! They want to win and be seen they like attention that’s why that said that”.
I respect and love every part of HBCU’s but ima going to be real , these kids not going to settle! They want to win and be seen 🤷🏾♂️ they like attention that’s why that said that
— C.J. (@CGJXXIII) June 25, 2020
Black Twitter let him have it, especially his use of the word “settle.”
His teammate on the Saints, Justin Hardee, a former Ohio State student-athlete tweeted, “It definitely would change the game up! We in control of our own destiny I’m excited to see it happen if it does!”.
It definitely would change the game up! We in control of our own destiny I’m excited to see it happen if it does!
— Justin Hardee Sr. (@jhardee_19) June 25, 2020
So, if a black student-athlete today attends an HBCU, is he or she settling?
We are all aware of the disparities between the programs, especially the facilities, including weight rooms, study-hall, and stadiums.
Still, again I go back to my earlier statement, if you are talented enough, you will be found. The NFL, CFL, or whatever the next incarnation for professional football looks like, the players at HBCU’s, if talented enough and coached well enough, will be located by scouts with ease.
It’s up to us, as black folks, as HBCU alums, supporters, and fans to make sure the information gets to our young people and allow them to make a decision that works best for them.
Let them know the history of the Gramblings, Florida A&Ms, Jackson States, and other HBCU programs, and how they were just as dominant as the Alabamas, LSUs, and Texas athletic programs.
Let’s continue to encourage our premium high school student-athletes to attend our historically significant institutions, instead of the traditionally white institutions that wouldn’t even give them a first look just a few decades ago.