Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are one of the strongest forces in Black culture. Originally created due to Black students being shut out of white academic spaces, these institutions not only educated young adults, but also served as a space for community, networking and instilling cultural pride at a time when being Black in America was significantly harder than it is today. 

Today, there are 107 HBCUs scattered across the US, with over 228,000 students enrolled in them. Most people are aware of the longstanding schools like Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Tuskegee University, but there are countless more across the North and South. And while these schools focus on their academics, the student body also enjoys the social aspect. From homecoming celebrations to a rich Divine Nine community, there’s plenty to do to connect with fellow HBCU students, alumni, and faculty. 

The school year may be technically over for most colleges right now, but that doesn’t mean that HBCU events aren’t still happening. Plus, with six more months remaining in 2024, there’s a full roster ahead when school reconvenes at the end of the summer.

Here are 9 HBCU events for entertainment, networking, and more that you should add to your calendar for 2024.

Blavity House Party — Nashville, TN

June is going to be a busy month and Blavity is kicking off the season with Blavity House Party. This two-day event is officially June 14th and 15th in Nashville, Tennessee but includes a “Warm-Up” on Thursday, June 13th and a “Farewell” on Sunday, June 16th. Designed to let students, alumnus and supporters blow off some steam, the music festival includes pop ups, brunches, marketplaces and more. 

Expect to enjoy a solid mix of newer and established artists on the main stage, including Dru Hill, Monica, Big Freedia, Afrofuture, Travis Porter and more. Check out the full show schedule or snag your passes on Blavity.

HBCU Design Challenge — Charlotte, NC

Black culture drives American culture and pop culture at large. The Durag Fest celebrates this fact and Juneteenth with a two-day event held in Charlotte, North Carolina on June 21st and 22nd. While the larger event is for the general culture, the HBCU Design Challenge is on the lineup. It is intended for participating HBCU students to design a durag that illustrates the significance of not just Juneteenth, but how the durag serves as a symbol to preserve and move the culture forward. Although submissions are now closed, guests can attend the event where the winner will be announced on June 21st. 

HBCU Philanthropy Symposium — National Harbor, MD

If you’re strictly focused on academic development and achievement, as well as preserving the legacy of HBCUs, then the HBCU Philanthropy Symposium should be on your shortlist. This four-day event will be held June 30th through July 3rd in National Harbor, Maryland. This event is geared more towards people in the administrative space as the emphasis is on overcoming challenges faced when building or expanding an institution’s philanthropic arm. This is a vital conversation since having a strong endowment or annual budget is what ensures that HBCU students have access to the best academic and post-collegiate opportunities. 

National Battle of the Bands — Houston, TX

In truth, there are a few different battle of the bands events that take place across the country. However, it’s understood that HBCU marching bands are undefeated when it comes to performance and especially showmanship. The National Battle of the Bands is presented by Pepsi and will take place in Houston, Texas the weekend of August 23rd. Along with the band showdown on Sunday, August 25th, the precursor lineup includes an entrepreneurial conference, strolls, community outreach, career fairs, and a fan fest experience.

Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic — Canton, OH

Football fans won’t want to miss the annual Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic. The event will be held over Labor Day weekend from Thursday, August 29th through Sunday September 1st in Canton, Ohio where the Black College Football Hall of Fame is located. This multi-pronged event combines football with tailgating, educational outreach to local elementary schools, a job fair, concerts, golf classics, community outreach and faith services. 

Circle City Classic — Indianapolis, IN

Now in its 40th year, the Circle City Classic is essentially an unofficial HBCU homecoming event held annually in Indianapolis, Indiana every fall. This year, the main event will be held Saturday, September 28th at Lucas Oil Stadium where North Carolina Central University will face off against Norfolk State University. Along with the title football game, other supporting events that weekend include parties, a coronation, various luncheons, and a parade. Circle City Classic is considered one of the premiere Midwestern HBCU events to attend. 

HBCU First Look Film Festival — Washington, D.C. 

Black filmmakers have proven why it’s important to have diversity behind and in front of the camera. The HBCU First Look Film Festival will take place in Washington, D.C. November 8th through the 10th and is designed to give film fans a chance to screen fresh new content that includes short, feature, animated, documentary, mobile, health & wellness, and family & faith categories. Along with the screenings, other key aspects of this festival include marketing and career development, networking opportunities, and symposiums. 

Year Round HBCU Events

While some HBCU events are limited engagements, more and more organizations are embracing touring functions. These events will make stops throughout the HBCU community, making it easier for people to attend them. 

The Big Homecoming

The Big Homecoming (TBH) is a traveling homecoming festival that piggybacks off of other popular HBCU events such as the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami, Florida or the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta. The TBH lineup often features popular, trending artists of the time, while also incorporating key pillars of the HBCU campus life like tailgating, marching bands, food and art. 

A Different World HBCU College Tour

Today’s HBCU students didn’t watch A Different World when it was in production. But the show is credited with shining a spotlight on the HBCU experience and introducing the importance of this vibrant academic community to countless Gen X and Millennial children. The reruns still play on broadcast television today. There’s plenty to love about Whitley, Kim, Dwayne Wayne, and the rest of the crew. This traveling college tour brings Hillman College to real HBCUs and also includes symposiums with the original cast. Future stops include Clark Atlanta University, Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, Alabama State University, and Tuskegee University. 

Get Your Calendar Ready

While this list focuses on larger festivals and national events, keep in mind that many HBCUs manage independent calendars complete with their own homecoming celebrations, band meets, college fairs, and more. So, there’s always something to do within the HBCU community.