Editorial: Homecoming not a black and white issue

For the last few years, the Legion of Black Collegians has received some flack for having its annual Black Homecoming.

Opposition to the event stems from some people's beliefs that black students shouldn’t “segregate themselves” when it comes to Homecoming.

We have a few choice words for these critics, but we’ll keep them family friendly: Homecoming is not a black and white issue. It’s a matter of tradition.

Black Homecoming has been an annual event since 1988, though it took a break from 1995 to 2008. The roots in the tradition lie in the unity that exists among MU’s black community. These events aren’t held to separate MU’s black community from the rest of the university, but rather to uphold its traditions.

Years ago, black students struggled to find a place in MU’s Homecoming traditions. In the '60s, members of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity displayed a Confederate flag and Marching Mizzou played “Dixie” during football games. Just 20 years ago, black students marched in the Homecoming parade not to be judged on their float, but rather to protest the racial climate on campus.

Acts such as these did wonders for merging the gap between black students and MU’s Homecoming traditions. Consequently, the Black Homecoming and its affiliated events were born.

Years later, this is mostly a non-issue. Students of every race, ethnicity, sex and sexual orientation are all incorporated into our Homecoming festivities. At last year’s festivities, for instance, Alex Holley — a black student — was named Homecoming Queen.

But for the MU alumni who saw the racial segregation firsthand, the Black Homecoming and its affiliated Black Family Reunion gives them a chance to come back to the university and experience it the way they left it. Better yet, it gives them a chance to see all of MU’s positive changes in terms of diversity.

The campus has progressed exponentially when it comes to diversity since this time. But we’re not perfect. As evidenced by the racist incidents that have occurred during Black History Month the past two years, we still have miles to go before race is a complete non-issue on campus.

Let Black Homecoming be the first step in bridging this gap. Rather than seeing the event as an act of separation, look at it as a chance to immerse yourself in a new culture and learn a thing or two. LBC does not discriminate when it comes to event attendance, offering an open invitation to its events this week.

So instead of getting worked up over the event, take the time to learn a bit about the traditions associated with it before you open your mouth. Until black students decide Black Homecoming is done, it isn’t going anywhere.

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