By Craig Allen Brown
This weekend witnessed the launch of The Big Homecoming, a one-of-a-kind festival that celebrates the energy of HBCU homecomings, but in a uniquely different way.
The Big Homecoming is the brainchild of Amir Windom, a multiple Grammy-winning entertainment executive and proud alum of Florida A&M University. The festival, deemed the first “365 festival” by Windom, runs continuously for almost an entire calendar year. The event will travel to HBCUs throughout the country beginning in August of this year and concluding in May of 2023.
“We are the first 365 impact festival,” said Windom. “Unlike most festivals, we don’t end. Most festivals end after a few days or the weekend. We keep going.”
The Big Homecoming officially began on Friday, at the campus of Clark Atlanta University. Friday was designated as Impact Day; it featured a series of guest speakers, including NFL Hall of Famer and current Jackson State University head football coach Deion “Prime” Sanders. Impact day also consisted of a career fair and college fair. All of Friday’s events were free of charge.
Saturday was the Festival Celebration Day, held at the Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta. The day consisted of a tailgate event that featured a bevy of Black-owned food vendors, several DJs and an artist and vendor marketplace. The tailgate was followed by a concert featuring Jermaine Dupri, Jeezy, Lil Duval, Lecrae, Montell Jordan, 702 and Pastor Troy.
The unique nature of this festival comes into play now that the initial event has come to an end. In July, The Big Homecoming will announce the names of approximately 20 HBCUs that the event will travel to. The festival will then directly impact HBCUs by implementing curated events and activities focused on entrepreneurship, financial wellness, health & wellness, recruitment, leadership development and tech, to name a few.
“Our meat and potatoes is essentially what we do after the festival,” said Windom. “We visit 20 or so HBCUs, [conducting] programs, partnerships and internship programs. We have apprenticeship programs. We have all these ongoing, engaging things that go between August 2022 to May 2023. And it just doesn’t stop.”
Windom’s undergrad experience at Florida A&M University, coupled with a long history of HBCU graduates in his family, inspired the creation of The Big Homecoming as an ode to the HBCU experience.
“We’re [creating] ongoing impact for HBCUs,” Windom said. “That’s what we’re most proud of. We’re bringing the entertainment industry to HBCUs in a meaningful, ongoing, impactful way.”
Windom feels that there has never been a sole event that encapsulated the various HBCU energies, particularly homecoming energy. To bring the idea of a 365-day HBCU homecoming festival to fruition, he teamed up with sponsors such as Walmart, Spotify, All-State and Wells Fargo.
Along with providing a one-of-a-kind HBCU homecoming experience, Windom is passionate about creating opportunities for students. The career fairs will also happen at other locations during the festival, as will other career, finance and professional development events. Windom wants the Big Homecoming to replicate the many advantages that HBCUs consistently make possible to their students.
“Our behind-the-scenes reason for doing this is: we want to be an ongoing marketing campaign for HBCUs,” Windom said.Information about The Big Homecoming can be found at https://thebighomecoming.com/.
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