Just in time for the back-to-school season, we’re dropping our favorite HBCU-centric shows and movies to give viewers a peek at life on historically Black college campuses. This curation of TV shows, movies and more offers something for everyone interested in learning about HBCUs, their campus cultures and their contributions to Black culture at large. So grab some snacks, settle in and get into them.
Stomp the Yard
The film follows DJ Williams, a performance artist who goes to attend HBCU Truth University in Georgia for a fresh start. His effort to obtain his education is sidelined when two frats interested in him enter a step competition. After crossing into his chosen frat, Theta, DJ joins his frat brothers in preparation for the step show. DJ finds himself in the crosshairs of two fraternities: one that hopes to use his talents to win their step competition and the other that wants him off their campus.
A Different World
Just in time to celebrate the show’s 35th anniversary we’re rewatching A Different World. Hillman College is the backdrop for the cult classic A Different World, which follows the cast as they navigate being away from home and on their own for the first time. This show was one of the first to capture the experiences of young Black students pursuing higher education in America. The show addressed racial and social issues long before other shows were ready to do the same. A Different World was ahead of its time and a must-watch.
Marching bands are a major part of HBCU life and arguably the best part of any HBCU homecoming game. Drumline gives viewers a glimpse into what it takes to create the rhythm and musicality that HBCU marching bands are known for. The film follows talented drummer Devon Miles as he tries to adjust to life at Atlanta A & T and clashes with his section leader. This plot occurs against the backdrop of the Atlanta A & T band as they prep for a national battle of the bands type competition.
All American: Homecoming
The show follows Damon, a superstar baseball player from Chicago, and Simone, a tennis hopeful from California, as they navigate the world of elite sports at (fictional) HBCU Bringston University. After Journalism teacher (and Simone’s auntie) Amara Patterson exposes a school scandal involving the baseball team, new coach Marcus Turner works to bring the team an honest championship. Follow the characters as they find their footing at Bringston, where Black excellence is a way of life.
Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities
Viewers looking to get educated on the history of HBCUs and learn how they’ve shaped America definitely need to give this documentary a watch. HBCUs have nurtured some of the country’s greatest leaders and been nerve centers of major social movements. More recently, many historically Black colleges and universities have struggled to keep their doors open. This documentary walks viewers through it all and gives insight into how we can help HBCUs continue to nurture Black voices.
Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha
‘Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha’ presents the story of the first Black Greek Letter Organization founded by women at Howard University in 1908. Tracing AKA’s history from its founding to its involvement in key moments in U.S. history, the documentary concludes by highlighting the historical election of AKA member Kamala Harris as Vice President of the United States.
Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé
Homecoming showcases Beyoncé’s 2018 Coachella performance. Beyoncé was the first Black woman to headline the festival and gave us all the showmanship we’d expect from an HBCU homecoming half-time show. From the majorette-inspired dance moves to the “Bey” drum majors, Bey’s Coachella performance shone a well-deserved light on this part of the culture.
Whether you’re looking to learn, or you’re being nostalgic, these classic shows and films have plenty to offer you.
This editorial is brought to you in collaboration with Xfinity.