When you think of HBCUs, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The bands, the sports, or trailblazers within the HBCU community such as Spike Lee, Toni Braxton, Deion Sanders, Jerry Rice and countless other notables?
NBA champ Shaquille O’Neal’s son, Shaqir O’Neal, will have something in common with those notables as he recently committed to the HBCU Texas Southern University. In an interview with Overtime, Shaqir talked about why he chose an HBCU instead of one of the more well known colleges or universities known for cultivating draft picks. Shaquir stated, “I wanted to change the narrative…change the culture and do something I knew others would follow.”
Local athlete Aveon Pittman, who committed to playing football at Alabama A&M, had a variety of reasons for why he chose to attend an HBCU. At the top of his list was “I want to be around people like me who understand the background that I come from.”
Thanks to football legend Deion Sanders becoming the head coach at Jackson State University this past spring, the SWAC Conference viewing ratings have gone through the roof! Historically Black Colleges are finally getting looked at by the masses in a favorable way. Pittman agrees, saying, “This upcoming fall is going to be great for HBCU athletes!”
In the latest NFL Draft just a few weeks prior, not a single HBCU football player was drafted. Sanders stated, “Our kids are being neglected.” I feel this year is going to be a statement maker for sure for all HBCUs.
With a handful of 2021 athletes nationwide making their college decisions and mainly going to PWIs–predominantly white institutions–what will the class of ‘22 hold? Will they follow in the footsteps of the 2021 athletes and go to PWIs? Will they lead and create their own paths at HBCUs like Shaqir? We’ll just have to be patient. I can’t wait to see what the future will hold.
By Jaden Stewart, Senior, Perspectives Charter School
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