Football brings Howard, Harvard alums together
When Howard came to Harvard Stadium for the second time to play the Crimson, it was more than a game. It was a weekend focused on the academic importance of both institutions and links between their alumni.
As it did in their first match-up in 2019 and a second one last year in D.C., Harvard prevailed. With the Ivy League team leading 28-0 at the half, Harvard Coach Tim Murphy substituted liberally on the way to a 48-7 win Oct. 14 over the Bisons from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
A successful football season for Howard and Harvard is measured by winning their respective conferences. That’s doable for both, with the majority of their conference schedules ahead of them.
During the game, ESPN highlighted many Howard alums, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Fox Sports Analyst Gus Johnson and some who have passed, including “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison and U.S. Senator Edward Brooke.
A weekend of activities kicked off on Oct. 13, with a reception hosted by DraftKings at its Boston headquarters. The evening began with a program chronicling the history of Richard Theodore Greener, the first black graduate of Harvard College in 1870, who, after obtaining a degree from the University of South Carolina Law School, became dean of Howard’s law school in 1878.
Attending the reception was Truman Jones, a rookie defensive end with the Kansas City Chiefs and a 2023 graduate of Harvard. He was the 148th captain of the Harvard football team and entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He was fresh off the Chiefs’ 19-8 victory over the Denver Broncos the night before.
There was a great deal of interaction off the gridiron, but it was more than just having fun at tailgate parties. There was a genuine sense that the Black students at both universities are poised to make accomplishments across the coming years in African and African-American studies, science, medicine, law, journalism and social justice. Harvard has Henry Louis Gates Jr. guiding Harvard students, and Howard has Nikole Hannah-Jones.
The Supreme Court decision in June banning the consideration of race in college admissions is expected to place renewed emphasis on academics and scholarship. Students in the years ahead will be concentrating on what they learn rather than where they learn it. No matter where they receive their degrees, the idea seems to be Black grads working together.
When they weren’t wearing school colors, it was impossible to tell which schools the graduates had attended. That was apparent at the final alumni event of the weekend in the Theatre District the day after the game, hosted by Bianca Sullivan, president of the Howard Alumni Club of Boston and diversity officer at DraftKings.
The football game provided a reason to bring alums of Howard or Harvard or both together.
Many sports links have been forged between the two schools over the last 150 years. Harvard provided some of the early Howard football uniforms with their common “H” logo. In recent years, the schools have been playing each other not only in football, but also basketball.
On this weekend, Harvard won the football game, but Howard won the battle of the bands. Harvard’s band never disappoints, with its clever half-time commentary and stirring renditions of their fight songs during games.
But Howard’s band was spectacular, receiving lengthy standing ovations from the appreciative Harvard Stadium stands for the precision marching and instrumental performances accompanied by the fabulous choreography of their cheerleaders, majorettes and drum major.