Popular actor, producer and recording artist Nick Cannon gets it. Farmers Insurance Group, McDonald’s and other corporations get it. So does USC coaching legend Pete Carroll, and a long list of others.
What do they get? That the annual Black college football weekend that attracts tens of thousands to the Los Angeles Coliseum is about more than just a game or the show stopping Black college band tradition.
The 2008 Farmers Angel City Classic returns to the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday September 27, 2008 at 2:00pm and will showcase a match up be between Morehouse College and Prairie View A&M University.
The day of activities will also include an electrifying McDonalds Battle of the Bands half-time performance, King and Queen Scholarship Competition, Greek stepshow, tailgating parties, and an incredible Stax Records 5th Quarter Tribute to Isaac Hayes featuring celebrated artists including Angie Stone, Lalah Hathaway and Anthony Hamilton.
As celebrity spokesman Cannon puts it, “It’s so official!”
Why? Because the Classic brings something positive to the Los Angeles community that promotes education, attracts families, is accessible to the community and builds bridges with a wide network of community organizations and leaders to bring the pageantry and sizzle of the Black College experience to Los Angeles. It is the perfect illustration of the sum of the parts being greater than the whole. One of the key parts is the network of community partners who are providing invaluable support to make it a reality.
The event producers, Black Educational Events LLC, feel strongly about working with legacy organizations such as 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, the SCLC-Los Angeles, Los Angeles Urban League, NAACP, Black Expo, African Marketplace and supporting their youth programs and initiatives. Faith based leaders and elected officials have also been key to the success over the past two years and will play a major role in the 2008 production. They recognize that their members and constituents include legions of HBCU alumni and families who currently have children enrolled in these schools.
HBCU roots in Southern California are deep and include notables such as actress/producer Debbie Allen, Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson, Extra’s Tanika Ray, and ABC-7 News anchor Leslie Sykes. Recently featured in the BET series “Baldwin Hills,” actress Vanessa Bell Calloway and her husband Dr. Tony Calloway (a Morehouse alum) recently sent their daughter Ashley off for her freshman year at Spelman College in Atlanta.
In education, we have LAUSD Superintendent David L Brewer who attended Prairie View. And Councilman Herb Wesson is a proud graduate of Lincoln University, Senator Mark Ridley Thomas has two sons currently attending Morehouse, one on the football team and the other a campus leader. Even Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ grandson is in his 3rd year at Morehouse.
The many chapters of Los Angeles Inter Alumni Council hold events throughout the year to raise scholarship funds for Southern California youth attending HBCUs and to ensure that these schools remain relevant. A number of celebrities make the conscious decision to send their offspring to Black colleges including Pauletta and Denzel Washington, LaTonya Richardson and Samuel L. Jackson, along with Camille and Bill Cosby to name a few.
California high school athletes currently playing for reigning champions Prairie View are Jermaine Bluford of Compton, Leighland Koonce from San Diego, Brandon Bell of Deerfield Beach, Joshua Mack of Visalia, Jerome Tarver of Oakland, and DeShaun Wilkens of Stockton. Morehouse students include Christian Green, Tristan Taylor, Anthony Haynes and Troy Shine of Los Angeles; Jamal James of Paramount; and Eric Archer of Placentia.
Even though HBCUs have been around since the mid 1860s, they remain somewhat of a mystery to many on the West coast, especially to African American youth. Given the alarming drop out rate in school districts across the State and the escalating cost of higher education, now more than ever, African American youth need to know about all of the tools and opportunities available to them to prepare to compete in the Global economy.
For those who have the facts, they know that the track record of these schools is unmatched and the experience is unlike any other offered in American higher education.
All HBCUs play a critical role in the American higher education system. For most of America’s history, African Americans who received a college education could only get it from an HBCU. Today, HBCUs remain one of the surest ways for an African American, or student of any race, to receive a high quality education. They graduate nearly one-quarter of African Americans who earn undergraduate degrees. HBCUs, because of their unique sensibility to the special needs of young African American minds, remain the institutions that demonstrate the highest rate of success in producing African American students who are poised to be competitive in industries and areas across the entire American marketplace and Global economy.
The United Negro College Fund reports the following: • HBCUs graduate over 50 percent African American professionals. •HBCUs graduate over 50 percent of African American public school teachers and 70 percent of African American dentists. •50 percent of African Americans who graduate from HBCUs go on to graduate or professional schools. •HBCUs award more than one in three of the degrees held by African Americans in natural sciences. • HBCUs award half of the degrees held by African Americans in mathematics.
“Historically Black colleges and universities have produced more African-American doctors, dentists, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and other professional/s than all of the nation’s institutions of higher learning combined,” says John T. Fleming, CEO of Black Educational Events. “This is a banner year for Black people and our goal is to use entertainment to spotlight HBCUs and encourage high school students in western geographies to consider these institutions.”
The challenge is to make sure that more African American and Latin youth in general understand that HBCUs are still relevant and want their attention and consideration as they make choices about higher education. The Angel City Classic is designed to promote the two schools involved as well as the other 104 HBCUs in the country. Though the schools vary in size, location and other factors that distinguish the campuses, they share the common elements of smaller student teacher ratio on campuses that are like family environment steeped in the proud history and tradition of the Black experience.
For high schools students throughout Southern California who recently returned to school, the Classic will give them a one-of-a-kind experience of being in a stadium filled with over 70,000 fans talking high school and college football, politics, education, and the importance of strengthening our own communities. Good food, great music, and ensuring citizens are registered to vote through the “Declare Yourself” campaign are just some of the things on tap.
Discover more than just a game. Because the 3rd Annual Angel City Classic is about education. It’s about family. It’s about you. Don’t miss it!