Neighborhoods surrounding Historically Black Colleges and Universities have culture, festivities and rich histories.
All hail Queen Bey, as in Beyonce, who recently paid tribute to the culture and significance of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in her Netflix concert film, “Homecoming.” Her performance served as an homage to the HBCU homecoming tradition, with a full marching band, steppers, and majorettes. A proud moment indeed, but even a Beyonce concert can’t compare to experiencing an HBCU community in person.
For many black Americans, the importance of HBCUs goes beyond the fun and festivities of homecoming. Each HBCU has a place in American history. For example, in Atlanta, you can visit the lecture halls and grounds of Morehouse College, attended by Martin Luther King Jr.
Howard University in Washington, D.C., is part of my own family’s history. My great-grandfather, Walter Merrick, immigrated from Trinidad to the United States in the 1920s to attend medical school here. While at Howard, he pursued his love of music and scored an operetta based on the Haitian revolution, which was performed on campus. After graduating, he became the head of Harlem Hospital’s Department of Physical Medicine and continued to write music for Jazz musicians like Louis Jordan by night.
Today, HBCUs provide a supportive and inclusive environment for a diverse group of students to pursue their academic goals. In the process, HBCUs create communities that celebrate black culture, black intellectualism, black art, and black history. Additionally, as a college town, these neighborhoods have all the amenities you’d expect such as great local restaurants, coffee shops, and nightlife. If you are looking to buy a home in a neighborhood rich with history, culture and community, you may want to consider moving in next door to an HBCU.
Redfin agent Henry Edwards is an alumnus of North Carolina A&T State University and has seen the surrounding area modernize along with the university. “There is a lot of public funding that has been put into the schools. Both Greensboro and the University have been totally modernized,” he said. “The homecoming games indeed are a big draw, and alumni and parents come to visit from all over for the game, marching band, and festivities. They bring in a lot of economic activity to the local businesses.”
Redfin agent Lakisha Williams lives in Hampton, Virginia, and her son attends Hampton University. “A huge benefit of living near Hampton University is being able to take advantage of the culture and the rich traditions of the university,” she said. “The university contributes to the local economy, with the students shopping at local businesses and participating in internships and community organizations. There are plenty of activities like football games, which bring together the community with the university. Hampton has the world famous Marching Force band and cheer-leading squad, and is rich with black history. The campus has several historical landmarks like the Emancipation Oak, which was where escaped slaves took refuge and were able to claim asylum with the Union Army during the Civil War, and Legacy Park, which contains tributes to black historical figures like Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglass.”
Even if you are past college-age, you can still cheer on games, sit in on a public lecture, attend a student concert or play, and enjoy all of the culture HBCUs offer. But if you do decide to move in next door, make sure to be a good neighbor and show respect. These institutions originally formed in the 19th century when many American colleges and universities refused to admit black students. As such, don’t just use these campuses like a public park. Be a constructive part of the community — join in on the events that are open to the public, and let the students enjoy their private events.
Interested in living near an HBCU? These listings make a great home base for an address within a vibrant community:
This beautiful three bedroom Colonial is only 10 minutes from Hampton University. The backyard features a gazebo for entertaining guests during a warm summer evening. It’s on the market for $275,000.
This three bedroom home in the walkable Hyde Park Main neighborhood of Houston is only three miles from Texas Southern University. The first floor has an open layout, and each bedroom contains an en-suite bathroom, perfect for renting to college-students. It’s on the market for $565,000.
This modern town-home is only four miles from Morgan State University and boasts an impressive kitchen, bamboo flooring, loads of natural light, as well as a gorgeous zen master bath. This home is listed for $284,000.