PHOTO BY DAVID CAMPBELL/UNIVERSITY PHOTOGRAPHER
A warm and inviting school spirit roared throughout the weekend despite the frigid and rainy environment as various students, administrators, faculty and alumni who attended two HBCUs traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to cheer on their alma mater, fellowship and claim the bragging rights of the largest football event in the south.
It is the 80th Magic City Classic. A very special celebration as last year’s annual event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The black and old-gold stinging Hornets of Alabama State University (ASU) arrived in the Magic City on Oct. 27 – 31 to battle their fiercest Alabama rival, the maroon and white bulldogs of Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) on Legion Field.
Both universities showed their school pride as various alumni wore their school colors faithfully and combated against each other on which institution was better overall.
Though the rivalry between ASU and AAMU was certainly present throughout the Magic City Classic weekend, both universities supported each other through numerous sponsor scholarships, acknowledgments, and togetherness as they realized that at the end of the day, both universities are leading institutions of Black excellence.
The spirited weekend consisted of a bulldog funeral, kick-off luncheon, prep rally, parade, tailgate, the football game at Legion Field, and various other camaraderie-catered events amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As several ASU alumni and students packed the Legion Field stadium wearing their paraphernalia and merchandise from their heads to their shoes, various alumni reflected on how the Magic City Classic is one big event that people should not miss.
“I think it is epic,” said Class of ‘18 Keyonshay Dunn regarding the return of the Magic City Classic since 2019. “I think the turnout is awesome. I myself was a part of the band, so it is like awesome seeing the band in action again. I mean I know we’ve had games and everything, but I think the Magic City Classic is that game. It’s that epic game to bring two rival schools together.”
“I feel like it is a great experience, always,” said DeOntraniece McCaskill, Class of ‘12. “It’s a great turnout for us to had been gone for two years, almost, feels like. You know it’s only been a year, but it’s always a great experience and it’s always a great time to be a Hornet.” McCaskill loves the green carpet affair and when the classic used to have the morning shows stating that “it’s always fun.”
Alumnus Harold Evans, Class of ‘88, reminisces as he has attended the Magic City Classic for 15 years and was excited for the return of the coveted event.
“I am from Ohio, and I come every year,” Evans said. “I look forward to it. It’s nothing like the Magic City Classic. It’s just so amazing you know how two great schools come together.” He goes on to say that every event at the Magic City Classic is absolutely amazing and unique and will continue to attend.
“I really like the atmosphere and how people are together,” said Class of ‘87 Matthew Jones. “I love how even during the pandemic, people are coming together to be a part of the Magic City Classic. I think the younger alumni are doing a great job of keeping the tradition alive.”
Fully vaccinated Jaurice Huntingdale, Class of ‘86, has strong affirmations that the event was pretty safe during the pandemic.
“I have taken the precautions to be safe such as wearing my face mask, keeping my hands washed, and trying not to be around a whole bunch of unknown people, and so I think that I will be okay,” Huntingdale said.
Huntingdale’s favorite Magic City Classic event was the pep rally, usually held on Thursdays in the past but did not occur this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highlighting the solidarity and friendly competition between both institutions, Wendy Rogers-Hines, a 1993 alumna, states the classic is truly a time to bond and create memories.
“I love the Magic City Classic because it allows alumni to come together,” said Rogers-Hines. “I love the HBCU experience, and this is just a wonderful time for everyone to come together for the community, for students, especially those HBCU students of Alabama State and A&M. There’s a camaraderie that we’ve had for many years, and it’s just an exciting time for everyone and I thoroughly enjoy it!”
“The Magic City Classic lit all day,” exclaimed ‘20 graduate Jamil Robinson. “Everything about the MCC is built on long-lasting memories and bonds that you’ll never forget, and I hated that COVID-19 messed up last year’s, but I’m definitely making up for it this year and I’m having an amazing time!”
While the coronavirus pandemic has affected how many people interact with each other, Class of ‘10 alumna Cherill Turner said she is talking to every person she encounters since she misses that human interaction.
“I know we are in the pandemic, but that is what the Magic City Classic is all about,” Turner said.
“ It’s about fellowshipping, it’s about meeting new people, it’s about creating those memories, and I think I’m certainly doing that. I will continue to talk to people, and that’s on period.”
When asked what could make the Magic City Classic better, Class of ‘17 Deontay Morris stated more events tailored around the newer alumni would be beneficial.
“I would honestly like to see some events catered to the younger generation who have just graduated from Bama State. Something like a mixer or maybe even a kick-back would work for me. I just feel as though the classic is tailored more toward the older graduates, but, all-in-all, this Magic City Classic wasn’t bad at all.”
Closing out the event-filled weekend, alumna Imani Shay, Class of ‘19, looks forward to the 81st Magic City Classic and expects “nothing but the best.”
“If this Magic City Classic is the way it was this year, I cannot wait,” Shay said. “On top of that, hopefully, by then, everything will revert back to normal so that I can fully invest myself into the events. I attended every event and had loads of fun, but still was a bit cautious as the pandemic is real and some people forget that it is.”