Livingstone College marks homecoming
SALISBURY - Homecoming is a can't-miss event at historically black colleges and universities.
It's the one time of year when football stadiums are guaranteed to be bursting with students and alumni, no matter the opponent or the home team's record.
And it's a time for strolling across campus, reminiscing about classes taken and friendships developed during college days.
Simply put, homecoming is the event.
Livingstone College's homecoming began Sunday with a gospel concert in Varick Auditorium and runs through Saturday, when the Blue Bears will play the Falcons of St. Augustine's University at 1:30 p.m. in Alumni Memorial Stadium. In all, more than two dozen homecoming events are being held.
Recent alum LeCounte Nedab II, who graduated in 2011, says he's been looking forward to homecoming since the football season began.
"Of course I never missed homecoming when I was a student, but going back now is really special," said Nedab, who is from Ocean City, Md., and getting a master's of divinity from Hood Theological Seminary. "Being back on campus for homecoming makes me appreciate just what Livingstone has done for me and what it means to me."
Carmen C. Wilder is the assistant vice president of development, alumni relations and a member of the class of 1997. She majored in business administration at Livingstone and also has an MBA from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio.
Wilder's job requires her to work with Livingstonians to encourage them to support the institution financially and otherwise. Homecoming is as important to her as Christmas is to retailers. In fact, in the months leading up to it, she works diligently to ensure alumni return to Salisbury and have a great time.
"Organizing reunion classes together is always a pleasure, but it's also hard work," said Wilder, whose class celebrates its 15-year reunion this year. "Nonetheless, this year we've managed to have record numbers of participation and money raised from our reunion classes, and we're excited to have 14 reunion classes this year, ranging from the class of 2007 to the class of 1942."
Loyal supporter grand marshal
Grand marshal for the homecoming parade Saturday wil be Fredericka Flack Hurley, a retired educator from Atlanta who graduated from Livingstone 70 years ago.
She was recommended for the honor by Raemi and Fred Evans, who graduated from Bennett College for Women and North Carolina A&T State University, respectively, but have "adopted" Livingstone College. The Evanses live on Monroe Street, across from campus, and Mrs. Evans is the granddaughter of James E.K. Aggrey, after whom the college's cafeteria is named.
"Fredericka Flack Hurley is a longtime friend of the family, and her mother was Dean of Women at Livingstone College for several decades," Mrs. Evans said. "Her father is a Livingstone graduate, and she has had nieces to graduate from Livingstone College, one of whom is a medical doctor and another who has a Ph.D. Her sister is also a Livingstone alumnus and taught at the institution."
The 1942 graduate loves and supports Livingstone, Evans said.
"She truly loves Livingstone College and strongly supports the institution. I can't think of a better person to be the Parade Grand Marshal. She has served Livingstone College well for many years and deserves this honor."
Flack Hurley was an educator for more than 40 years, and in 1976 she became the first black female principal of Bass High School in Atlanta, shortly after integration. She held the top administrative post at Bass for six years until retiring in 1982.
Livingstone College has always been dear to Flack Hurley, a former Miss Livingstone, choir member and Blue Bears basketball player. She said she was overwhelmed when she got the call about being the Parade Grand Marshal.
"I just didn't believe it, and I had my hesitation and my doubts about being able to do it," Flack Hurley said. "I'm so involved in things here in Atlanta, and I'm supposed to be the speaker at my church this weekend and a club to which I belong is having its 90th anniversary this Saturday and I knew if I came to Livingstone I'd miss those events. But I weighed it all out and decided I wanted to come to Livingstone one more time because it's a blessing to still be alive 70 years after I graduated from college. I'm excited about seeing Goler Hall again, where I lived all four years, the library and other campus buildings. I'm also excited about seeing old friends and fellowshipping with them."
Winning Blue Bears
The parade and football game are always the highlight of homecoming, but Saturday's contest carries even more significance than usual because the Blue Bears are enjoying two consecutive wins - the first time they've won back-to-back games since the 2008 football season. They are tied with Winston-Salem State University for first place in their division.
The Blue Bears are led by freshman quarterback Drew Powell, who completed 13 of 22 passes for 290 yards, three touchdowns and one interception to lead Livingstone to a 23-21 victory over Virginia Union University last Saturday.
Head football coach Elvin James said the Blue Bears are coming together at the perfect time.
"Having two consecutive wins under our belt is a big deal and a vast improvement over last season," James said. "But having consecutive wins leading up to homecoming is a tremendous momentum boost for our players, coaches, students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans. Our team has gotten better as the season has progressed, and I'm confident that will continue. We're really looking forward to playing before what we anticipate will be a standing-room-only crowd Saturday inside Alumni Memorial Stadium."
• Free fashion show, 8 p.m., Varick Auditorium.
• Fundraising bowling party, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., Woodleaf Lanes on Jake Alexander Boulevard. Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door. Sponsored by the Livingstone College Pre-Alumni Council.
• Livingstone College Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet, 7 p.m. at The Event Center, 315 Webb Road. Nine people will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased by calling Blanche Ford at (704) 216-6012.
• Alumni Convocation, 10 a.m., Varick Auditorium at 10 a.m. Followed by tree-planting ceremony sponsored by the Livingstone College National Alumni Association (LCNAA) and The Office of Alumni Affairs.
• UNCF “Soul Food” Luncheon, noon, Aggrey Cafeteria. Tickets are $25 each; proceeds support the United Negro College Fund. For information, contact Deborah Johnson at 704-216-6118.
• All-Star Basketball Game, noon to 2 p.m. in Trent Gymnasium;.
• Alumni poetry slam, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Tubman Little Theater, hosted by Treva Boone of the class of 1993 and sponsored by The Office of Alumni Affairs.
• Homecoming concert featuring rapper Roscoe Dash and Teairra Mari, an R&B singer-songwriter, actress, model and dancer. Concert tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
• LCNAA Welcome Reception from 8 p.m. to midnight at The Embassy Suites at 5400 John Q. Hammons Drive, Concord. Admission is $25 per person but free for LCNAA members.
• Alumni “Welcome Home” Party from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn at 530 Jake Alexander Blvd.
Admission is $20 but free for LCNAA members.
• Lawn party after the game, at the Horseshoe on campus from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
• The Homecoming Step Show, always a big hit with students, begins at 8 p.m. in Varick Auditorium, and doors open at 7. Cost is $15 for students and $20 for general admission.
• A semi-formal party sponsored by the LCNAA and titled “An Elegant Affair,” begins at 9 p.m. at The Embassy Suites in Concord. Tickets are $50 per person and a cash bar will be provided.
• “All Black” Affair, beginning at 10 p.m., at The Holiday Inn in Salisbury. Cost is $25 per person, attire is classy and chic black, and a cash bar will be provided.