Did the BET homecoming special do HBCUs justice?

Promotional Flyer for “Meet Me On The Yard.” Photo courtesy livenation.com

In efforts to keep the culture relevant, BET and Youtube Originals presented “HBCU Homecoming: Meet Me On the Yard,” last night. Hosted by HBCU graduates ‘LaLa’ Anthony and rapper 2 Chainz, the event aimed to highlight the HBCU homecoming experience, raise money for HBCUs and fill the void felt by HBCU students this semester.

Homecomings are family reunions for HBCU students. It’s a time when alumni return to celebrate and relive their college days, and undergraduates make unforgettable memories at concerts, comedy shows and most of all, the football game.

“Meet Me On the Yard” did a great job of incorporating alumni presence during the hour and thirty minute-long recording, featuring a host of HBCU entertainers and including interviews from FAMU alumni K. Michelle, Will Packer and KJ Rose, all speaking on their past homecoming moments on The Hill.

The show opened with rising pop stars Chloe x Halle singing “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” a song most HBCU students are familiar with. This was a good way to begin the production, as this song is sung by crowds in university stadiums on game days to remind us of how far as a people we have come.

The momentum of the show was turned down by the green screen performances from Saweetie and NLE Choppa. Although Saweetie’s performance was that of a half-time show, this element should have been done live to give more energy and ambiance to the performance.

Daryl Banks, a third-year graphic design student felt the special was mediocre.

“They could’ve had more of the performances on HBCU campuses or a stage, rather than green screens, it didn’t feel the same as if you were experiencing homecoming in person,” Banks said.

Aside from the celebrity performances, homecoming is about reconnecting with those who made your college experience enjoyable. This aspect is highly important to those who are a part of the Divine 9.

“Meet Me On the Yard” highlighted the role fraternities and sororities play on college campuses, and those interviewed gave advice to those who might be interested in going Greek. To further highlight Greek life, there was a virtual ‘yard show’ featuring members of each Divine 9 doing their signature steps.

The main highlight of the experience for Rattlers was watching the incomparable Marching 100, and FAMU’s Concert Choir back Grammy award-winning gospel singer Tye Tribbett at Bragg Stadium. Performing his single “We Gon’ Be Alright,” Tribbett and FAMU delivered a riveting and energetic performance.

Tamieyah Johnson, the concert choir’s Vice President, described it as a humbling experience to be a part of the production.

“Singing and dancing for such an amazing cause has never felt better, and I am so grateful to God and everyone involved for the experience,” Johnson said.

The overall experience of “Meet Me On the Yard” was interesting. BET did a decent job of exposing parts of the HBCU culture to the masses. However, the virtual homecoming didn’tgrant enough justice to certain cultural aspects of homecoming.

The HBCU homecoming experience is a rite of passage for those who attend. It is more than concerts and step shows, but also about networking, connecting and falling deeper in love with your university— an emotion which can’t be felt virtually. The “Meet Me On the Yard” experience has deepened the hopes and expectations of 2021’shomecoming to be back, live and better than ever.