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“There is No Place Like HOMEcoming!” By Spanky Edwards

On October 22, 2022, approximately 35,000 Black people convened on the Red Clay Hills of Georgia to attend the greatest festival for Black freedom, family, and financial stability, in the land, which is Morehouse College & Spelman College’s (SpelHouse) Homecoming!

Dr. David Thomas, Morehouse College President and Spanky Edwards

Basic institutions’ homecomings are centered around football, but not at an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). Ours is centered around the tailgate! From noon to about 7 pm, the overwhelming majority of us only attended tailgating. Tailgating is a big block party, class reunion, family reunion, BBQ, fashion show, concert, Black Greek Picnic, spiritual revival and so much more. Consequently, I didn’t see a single football player, the score, nor do I even know whom we played because tailgate was just that exhilarating.

For most of us, it’s the only place where we see the people we went to school with for three – seven years, but for an average of 15 seconds. Typically, depending on how close we were in college, we’ll only have time for a hug, a quick selfie/picture, and a warm piece of encouragement. In those 15 seconds, all of the nostalgic memories of love, laughter, and pride over the years rush to the forefront of our minds, and in those moments, we realize how blessed and special our human experience was in undergrad.

Spanky Edward and Professor Illya Davis, renowned Morehouse professor

Due to social media, it’s like the Metaverse has come to life. We see our Facebook friends in real life and there is a brief conversation about our accomplishments and families over the years. If compatible, networking, jobs, and or a promise to link up when I’m in your city is exchanged. For example, I now serve as the dean of Promise Academy, the only Black Christian-run education center in Peoria, IL. Many of my college friends, who are now medical doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, financial advisors, stock brokers, etc., have vowed to assist me with whatever I need them to do in Peoria.

A Morehouse Man takes his commitment to his community extremely seriously. My SpelHouse network, organized properly, has the power to change the fabric of what Peoria is made of. We will increase the quality of life and experience for Black people here. This was one of the original intentions and obligations for educated Black people who attended HBCUs. Historically, our assignment was to go to college, learn a skill then come back to our hometown to enhance our neighborhoods. Many of us do this by running for office, becoming school teachers, creating sophisticated entertainment opportunities, or bringing awareness to various issues that affect Black people the most. Personally, I have done all of those since I relocated back to the Whisky City in 2018.

Doing this type of work can become both emotionally and physically taxing. Attending SpelHouse Homecoming was a revival of my soul. Before attending, I was absent from the social scene for a few months, wallowing in my own depression, frustrated that my hometown is not where I’d like it to be. But after homecoming, I returned refreshed! I’m a better consultant, educator, brother, uncle, and community leader. My creative juices have been flowing, and I am as excited as ever to continue the work that God has assigned me to do.