HBCU Pride, Camaraderie Electrify Chicago Football Classic Kickoff Event

The aura of pride, joy, reverence and camaraderie from HBCU alums and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) organization members attending Tuesday’s Chicago Cubs’ HBCU Day was so electric it could have powered Wrigleyville for an entire year. 

Dozens of HBCU and NPHC faithful were in attendance and in full regalia for a gathering held at the Brickhouse Tavern, adjacent to Wrigley Field, before the start of the Cubs’ game against the Milwaukee Brewers. 

The Cubs HBCU Day event kicked off a week of activities in honor of the Sept. 2 Chicago Football Classic game (CFC) at Soldier Field featuring Central State University and Mississippi Valley State University. Before the first pitch, the Cubs awarded $25,000 a piece to the Chicago Football Classic and the United Negro College Fund.

The CFC is the premier event of the Chicago Football Classic, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission to inspire Black high school and college students is achieved by hosting support events, initiatives and programs. Launched in 1997 by co-founders Larry Huggins and brothers Tim and Everett Rand, more than $5 million in scholarships have been awarded by 

the College Fair and the Chicago Football Classic Scholarship Fund. 

The significance of HBCU Day was not lost on attendees like Evanston Township HS superintendent Marcus Campbell. 

Campbell told The Chicago Defender he helped coordinate travel for more than 30 students to attend the HBCU Day game and festivities, with additional plans to attend the CFC game on Saturday. He said it’s vital to support HBCUs and to inform students that predominantly Black schools of higher learning are viable options. 


Marcus Campbell was joined by his two sons for HBCU Day at Wrigley Field (Photo: Lee Edwards).

Campbell, a South Side Chicago native and Cubs fan, said it was “wonderful” for the NPHC organizations to gather in solidarity. 

“One of our founding principles is scholarship, and it’s important that we exhibit that in every way,” said Campbell, a member of the Theta Kappa Kappa Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. “This is a prime example of our guiding cardinal principles of Omega Psi Phi.”

Joined by his two sons, Campbell said, “It’s a beautiful thing” for HBCU Day to occur not within Black History Month as it represents solidarity and uplift within the Black community. 

Winston Salem State University alum Corderius Cowans said he decided to support HBCU Day thanks to his work as Chicago Scholars director of postsecondary leadership development.

“We work with the Young Males of Color Initiatives where we are intentionally creating a pipeline for access into our college success program and leadership development incubator, and we often create opportunities for them to learn about events in their city,” said Cowans. “So, what better way to celebrate the work we are doing than by exposing them to opportunities that are presented by HBCUs, our rich culture, right in their backyard in Chicago.” 


Winston Salem State University alum Corderius Cowans proudly reps his alma mater at HBCU Day at Wrigley Field (Photo: Lee Edwards).

He explained to The Defender what it meant to see the combination of the Chicago Cubs and HBCUs. 

“There’s a sense of progress, a sense of acknowledgement, being validated and ultimately celebrated,” Cowans said.

Cowans said he would “love” to see more events like HBCU Day and funding going toward HBCUs and NPHC organizations. 

For More Information

What: The 25th Annual Chicago Football Classic featuring Mississippi Valley State University vs. Central State University

When: 3 p.m. (Doors open at 1 p.m.)

Where: Soldier Field

What else: There will be a plethora of Chicago Football Classic activities on game day, including an HBCU College & Career Fair, Teen Fest, Tailgating, Battle of the High School Bands, Vendor Marketplace and the Divine 9 Greek Row Pre-game Reunion. To purchase tickets for Saturday’s Chicago Football Classic and more information, visit www.chicagofootballclassic.org/tickets.

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