Lincoln University celebrated its 150th anniversary last weekend, and current students and alumni from across the country came together to commemorate the milestone. The homecoming week included the annual coronation of Mister and Miss Lincoln University, the National Panhellenic Step Show, the Homecoming Parade and the LU 150th Birthday Extravaganza.
The theme for this historic homecoming week was #NeverForget1866, which denotes the founding year of the historically black university in Jefferson City. Shortly after the end of the Civil War, members of the 62nd United States Colored Infantry decided to establish an educational institution known today as Lincoln University.
The school was designed to educate freed African-Americans in Missouri who were not allowed to attend white college institutions in America. Today, it provides undergraduate and graduate academic programs to almost 3,000 students.
Shakera Garrad-Brown, a first generation graduate from LU, says she’s proud of the educational opportunity Lincoln provided her.
“I’m a first generation in my family so I understand, for me to be proud to represent something that’s bigger than myself. Especially in 1866, it was opportunities as African-Americans that we didn’t have. So, to have something to really educate us and at a higher level and we can achieve and it’s beautiful. The intimacy, the people, the teachers they really come here to help you. It’s just a wonderful experience to have that connection so I love it and I’m grateful I’m here.”
DJ Angie Whitman from the Rickey Smiley Morning Show has children and cousins that go to LU. She says her favorite thing about the university is the leadership of the university president, Dr. Kevin Rome.
“I think going to a four-year black university is a beautiful thing. Dr. Rome is not just the president, you can see him physically on campus. He interacts with our kids. He’s a father figure, uncle figure.”
Brandon Normal is sophomore at the university. He sees being a student at an HBCU as a way of showing pride in his heritage.
“Going to an HBCU in 2016 is that you are proud of your heritage with everything that has been going on in the world today with the African-American males and the African- American community at large, when someone wants to go to an HBCU it shows us their pride in their culture and what our ancestors had to fight to get us the rights we have today.”
Lamont Shannon, a two-time graduate from Lincoln University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in history, says there is comfort in being around people that resemble you.
“1866 is the founding time for Lincoln University, it is also the year after the Civil War and it’s when Blacks were displaced but finally starting to come together to find something to do collectively to get an education and to fit in our society. The favorite thing was that everybody looked like me. I could identify. It was a family wherever you went or wherever you would go we looked out for each other.”
Jay Campbell, an LU graduate, says he’s following in the footsteps of his uncles, both LU graduates and members of Kappa Alpha Psi from ’53 and ’75.
“We came from slavery. We have rights. We did something with our rights. We built a school. We’re educating black people. We are continuing the education, you know what I’m saying?”
Jaylin James Jones, a junior at LU and the Co-Chair of the Campus Activity Board says that he is proud of his black history.
“Remember 1866 to me just simply reminds me that I stand on the shoulders of giants and that I will forever be black and my history will forever be black. I will never forget those men who gave their lives just so I would in 2016, have a chance for an education. Lincoln is definitely a place that captivates you and it cultivates the way that you think and the way that you love yourself in a different light. It teaches you to love your blackness.”