#MNR: It’s a [Huntley] Family Affair
How does one possibly cram four years of memories and a half of a lifetime of deep friendship into a 48-72-hour time capsule? You take your Black ass to your HBCU Homecoming and have a fucking blast. My alma mater is the jewel of RVA, the hallowed grounds of Virginia Union University. Sure, there’s Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), which is to RVA what Columbia University is to the upper west side of Manhattan (Harlem). There’s also the University of Richmond, a darling of an institution built by the water in a picturesque, wooded area on the west end of the city. But there’s only one 1500 North Lombardy Street, 23220.
Although the COVID-19 virus couldn’t stop the big business of FBS (formerly Division I-A) football, it easily grounded HBCU football conferences like the MEAC and SWAC (both FCS, formerly Division I-AA) and CIAA (Division II). The cold truth is that Black colleges didn’t have the resources to accommodate virus protocols. I’m almost certain most programs couldn’t afford daily virus testing. And as for all the other protocols…I seriously doubt it. These cancellations immediately meant the cancellation of Homecomings, as the game is kinda the turkey on the Thanksgiving table of Homecoming. Thankfully, the Donald Trump COVID vaccine (I could be lying, but I heard ole Cheesy personally came up with the formula for the Johnson & Johnson and Wal Mart Great Value vaccines) has allowed for social gatherings to commence. 2020 was a life changing year for me. Anyone who knows me or regularly reads this blog knows about my health scare. I did a lot of thinking in that damn bed over the course of 13.5 days. I returned to regular life determined to stay connected with all my extended family. Sure, there’s social media, Zoom, etc., but I’m not the virtual type. I like to hug necks in person. So, as soon as I learned that VUU Homecoming 2021 was a go, I began to get my ducks in a row. I asked Brandi if she wanted to roll, and she obliged. I asked the squad who was coming. Everyone said they were. Bet.
A few weeks before the scheduled date for VUU Homecoming 2021, other HBCU abruptly cancelled 2021 HC festivities for alumni, including Howard, Hampton, Morehouse, and Spellman (the Ivy League of HBCU, allegedly) due to COVID-19 concerns. A bit of uneasiness set in, as I expected VUU to follow suit. But, in typical recalcitrant Union fashion, the show was not canceled. Instead, there was a site set up to show proof of vaccination which in turn meant alumni wristbands for HC related activities on the yard. Cool. Having said that, we registered but never picked our bands up. Did we still join in on the festivities? Fuck yeah. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. But anyway…it was good to see old faces who you only see on social media. I saw my big bro George “DPG” Saidu, I saw my School of Journalism pals Nehkondeh (forgive me if I butchered your name mama) and Byrd, with whom I spent a lot of time in those classrooms in Ellison Hall. I saw the homie Boo for the first time in twenty years. Boo was 1/3 of the legendary St. Louis “Road Trip of 1999” along with Louie and myself. I saw the Sigma homies, including my brother from another mother and former housemate Marvelous Hymes. I regret not seeing my brother Dr. Andre “Dre Doggs” Hudson (and a few other blessed folk), but I saw a lot of people. I had a good time reminiscing. But HC ’21 was all about the Huntley World Family. And we did our damn thing.
Rock, St. Louis, Keith Murray, Darrell, Lil Kia, Jon Jon, Six One, Lisa, Mic (Tamica), Apryl, and so on… I was blessed to see the majority of the Huntley World extended family and ALL of my closest folk. Sure, we’re twenty years older, but we are also twenty years wiser. Many of us are parents. Many of us are successful. But all of us are living. And, although it seemed like I’d be the first one to be the reason that we all got our Voltron on in mourning, I’m still here, better than ever and determined to stick around for many moons to come. I introduced Brandi to everyone before she actually met them; she said my descriptions were dead-on accurate. What can I say? I know my personnel. We all got to talk about all the things going on in our worlds. I apologize for the couch Rock. What can I say? I’m fat AF. Thank you, Brandi for being the driver to and fro, as well as my love and best friend. You really are my MVP.
I used to get all down and depressed when these types of events ended, and it was back to everyday life. I hate leaving my folk. But since Shareon passed, I don’t “miss” folk anymore. I’m happy and content that they’re alive and healthy. A century is only a matter of time. I know we’ll get together eventually. That’s what makes reunions so amazing. I hope it doesn’t take another five years for us to Voltron again. Time is so precious. But one thing I know for certain is that irrespective of life or death, we will always be family – not just any family – we are Huntley Family. I love youse colored folk with everything within me. Until next time…stay dangerous.
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