The importance that Historically Black Colleges and Universities [HBCUs] hold within African-American culture is immeasurable. Besides providing a safe space for young Black youth—where they can freely express the importance of equality and civil rights—HBCUs are a melting pot of style and swagger. From the clothing, to the camaraderie, to the sense of legacy; attending these schools gives its students a first-rate education and a chance to be a part of something bigger.
It should come as no surprise then that these colleges and universities have also been crucial to pop culture, spanning from the early ’90s and beyond. Schools like Howard University and Morehouse have been referenced in sitcoms, songs, and movies as the “it” places to be. Beyond mere mentions, some of the most popular movies are based on these schools, and feature a diverse cast of characters that closely mirror the lifestyles of the students that actually attend them. Just this past weekend, Beyoncé wowed Coachella Festival goers with an elaborate stage show that paid homage to America's HBCUs, from an energized marching band careening through her hits to a mid-performance skit showing a coming out ceremony for her "pledges," a long held tradition at many Black Greek letter organizations.
Understanding the impact that HBCUs have on African American youth, as well as influencing pop culture, The Home Depot has committed to revitalizing our HBCU campuses through its Retool Your School Campus Improvement Grant Program. To date, the program has awarded nearly $2 million dollars towards campus improvement projects to help sustain our nation’s HBCUs, ensuring that their legacy and contributions to the larger culture of the United States continues to evolve. In light of The Home Depot’s continued support of HBCUs, we dug into the pop culture archives to pick out some of our favorite HBCU references in TV, film, and music.