Since 1944 the Rattlers of Florida A&M University have battled the Tennessee State University Tigers in a pigskin battle of historically black colleges. With both schools residing in capital cities, the Atlanta Classic stands as a central meeting place for a game that has been played in Georgia’s capital since 1998.
Hosted by The 100 Black Men of Atlanta, the classic is not just a football game. Alvin Hollins Jr., sports information director at FAMU, describes the weekend as the “centerpiece of fundraising efforts” for the Atlanta based group.
The group fills what Hollins calls “the need for black males to be involved in the community” through their efforts in encouraging youth to stay in school.
The proceeds from the classic will benefit both universities as well as 100 Black Men’s “Project Success.” This program helps prepare Atlanta youth for high-school graduation through mentoring, tutoring, workshops, seminars, and provides college scholarships to students who complete the program.
With an average of 60,000 people in attendance at the Georgia Dome every year for the classic, many college students and future high school graduates will benefit from a rivalry spanning over 60 years.
Some FAMU students travel to Atlanta, not just for the game and the halftime showdown between the bands, but for the festivities in a city that some are now calling the “new black Mecca.”
FAMU student Samora Rolle from Miami has his own plans for the upcoming weekend. “I plan to do a little clubbing, maybe go to a nice restaurant and spend some time at the malls.” FAMU senior Tony Fabre has a similar plan. “I’m leaving Friday…probably go to the clubs up there.”
Aside from the clubs, malls and partying, Atlanta and many major businesses are offering other activities for the anticipated weekend.
McDonald’s will sponsor debates at the Georgia World Congress Center Friday, while Blue Cross Blue Shield and The 100 Black Men of Atlanta offer free health screenings and wellness information.
For more information on the weekend’s festivities, please visit www.gadome.com or www.atlantafootballclassic.com.