University separates Homecoming from Turkey Day Classic


David Campbell/University Photographer

The opening of the new stadium was realized in November 2013 for as the Hornets played Tuskegee University for the 89th Turkey Day Classic football game.

Nefsa'Hyatt Brown, Editor-in-Chief

After celebrating homecoming for almost 100 years during the week of Thanksgiving, the University decided to separate homecoming from the Turkey Day Classic. The topic of separating the two has been debated for years among some alumni and students, but there was no action taken by the administration.

Originally, the two were merged for several reasons.  First, the holiday allowed more people to participate in the celebration, the holiday was accommodating to classroom teachers who were off of work to attend the classic, and it allowed students who were in grades K-12 to come to downtown Montgomery on Thanksgiving Day for the annual parade.

Now that the campus culture has changed, Tuskegee is no longer able to play the game during the week of Thanksgiving, and many students depart for their home towns during the Thanksgiving holidays, the University decided it is in the best interest of the current student body and alumni to separate the two.

This year, homecoming will be held on Oct 10th, as the Hornets will take on the Southern University Jaguars. In a press release, the university’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Jennifer Lynne Williams commented on her department’s excitement in announcing the big change.

“Our students, who are a big part of our gameday atmosphere, will be able to experience homecoming like many students around the country,” she said, “We have also surveyed our alumni and heard directly from many of them who have requested that the Homecoming game be separated from the Turkey Day Classic. By moving Homecoming to a different date, our fans will now have the opportunity to take part in three big home contests with the Labor Day Classic and the Turkey Day Classic.”

Students shared their excitement saying that the change is great for the student body.

Zakiyah Stirrup, a junior business management major, expressed her appreciation of the change as it will eliminate the confusion between the ‘student homecoming’ versus the ‘real” homecoming.’

“I think that was a great internal change and now students can celebrate on one accord with alumni instead of having separate celebrations, which has to lead to confusion in the past on which one is the real homecoming,” she said.

Adding onto Stirrup’s sentiments, the 2019-2020 Student Government Association Executive Secretary David Hammond Jr., believes the move is positive for the student body, as most of the previous years’ events have always been catered to the alumni, versus the students.

“I feel like that was a positive move for the student body,” Hammond said.  “… after being here for the past three years, I haven’t had a true homecoming experience because the first two years I went home and last year I stayed here because I was a student leader but everything was catered to the alumni from the events to the gala. I feel like this move was for the student body so hopefully next year it [homecoming] is catered to the student body just as much as the alumni.”

Romantic Becote, a junior a forensic biology major from Anderson, Ind., agreed to add that as an out-of-state student, this decision would allow her to both celebrate homecoming and also be with her family during the holidays.

“I feel like that was a great decision made by the university,” Becote said, “especially since I am from out of town and I always miss out on homecoming festivities because I go home. It’s nice to have homecoming a little earlier so that I can celebrate and still be able to go home and be with my family.”

University President Quinton T. Ross Jr., Ed.D spoke on behalf of the university’s decision to make the change, explaining that there was careful consideration of the impact of separating the two.  As a university alumnus, Ross explained that the departure from tradition is not remiss to him, however, the decision ultimately was about “providing opportunities for students” and the university’s commitment to moving forward.

As a result of the university’s departure from that tradition, many Montgomery, Ala. natives and alumni do not view the change with the same fondness.

Sophomore Kirk Davis, an English secondary education major, believes that the change will be very weird for him given the importance of Turkey Day Classic not only to him but his family.

“Since I grew up here and it’s always been on Thanksgiving Day, it’s going to be sort of weird for me. A lot of my father’s friends and their families travel here on Thanksgiving to attend homecoming,” said Davis. “That’s usually when their kids [my friends] and I link up. So,  now that it’s going to be earlier than usual, it’s going to be weird for me. I know that despite the change Turkey Day Classic will still happen but since it’s no longer homecoming people are not obligated to come back for Thanksgiving … it’s the end of a tradition.”