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The HBCU Football Classic Experience? What are HBCUs? HBCUs are historically black colleges and universities that were established to serve the educational needs of African Americans. The establishment of HBCUs brought hope at a time when African Americans were denied admission to traditionally white institutions. At one point, HBCUs served as the principle means for providing post secondary education during the critical times in America’s racial history. It wasn’t until 1980 that President Jimmy Carter signed an Executive Order to establish a federal program to address the effects of discriminatory treatment, and to strengthen and expand the capacity of historically black colleges and universities to provide quality education. The very first black football classic began in 1924 with the establishment of the Turkey Day Classic between Alabama State College and Tuskegee Institute in Montgomery, Alabama. Since then, black college football and its pageantry of events have become a nationally recognized entity, and continue to solidify its ranking among those sporting activities that impact their community. For over 80 years, black college football classics have become an integral part of the 105 black colleges and universities that exist today in the United States. Each of these classics hold a significant piece of the black college experience, and provide opportunities for communities across America to celebrate diversity in education. There are three categories of black college football classics. The first category is the traditional rivalry between two schools. A few of these classics have grown in popularity much that they are played at neither campuses. Classics such as the Bayou Classic (Grambling State vs. Louisiana State), Capital City Classic ( Jackson State vs. Alcorn State), Aggie-Eagle Classic (North Carolina A&T vs. North Carolina Central) are well known and respected classics that continue to grow and impact their schools and communities. The second category of classics are host schools who play various opponents each year at a neutral site. The hosting schools have significant financial gain from their events, and are inspirations for other black colleges and universities to follow suit. The Gulf Coast Classic in Alabama features Alabama State University, and the Gateway Classic in Florida features Bethune-Cookman College. The third category of classics have an identity of their own, and are typically sponsored by organizations in the black community. These classics expand across the United States from New York to L.A., and they generally invite various black colleges to play every year. This category of classics along with the first category probably establishes the record as the highest grossing in revenues. Organizations such as the Urban League, the 100 Black Men, the Indiana Black Expo, the San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, and Independent Black Business such as the Romar Group and the St. Louis Gateway Classic Sports Foundation are just a few of the many groups that have come to recognize the financial benefits of such an event. A number of these classics have injected from 10 to 50 million dollars into the local economy of the community they serve, thus creating multiple opportunities for students, schools, small businesses, and their community at large to become benefactors of services created.
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