The United States was founded on the concept of opportunity. The notion that a person is not defined at birth, that they should have the opportunity for self-determination, is a rather novel notion in human history. America has had many missteps in actualizing that aspiration, but Historically Black Colleges and Universities have become an indispensable buttress of opportunity, and a defining feature of America. On Friday, September 20th, ESPN Came to the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware to highlight HBCU week 2019. Stephen A Smith, Magic Johnson and the First Take crew took over a Fieldhouse filled to capacity to bring focus and energy to a very important topic. Troy Vincent, former Eagles cornerback, also joined the First Take Crew of Max Kellerman, Smith and Molly Qerim Rose. 

Upward mobility

Opportunity is not easy in America but it is necessary to our national identity. We live in a system that is driven by the lifeblood of economic hope and incentive. The promise of a better future for ourselves and our children is what drives us to get up on cold winter mornings before dawn and go to work and school, even when it’s hard. HBCU’s are easy to think of as only relevant to Black Americans, but in reality they serve as a beacon of hope for all Americans that they will not be forgotten; that no matter how many times America fails to live up to the promise of its founding mission, its citizens will never stop striving toward a more perfect union. 

There is a profound depth and joy of community among collegiate Americans, and the bonds of communal rivalries and tradition run deep. This is amplified in the HBCU culture, a group of dozens of colleges and universities who have carved out a set of bonds and joyful traditions that create a sense of belonging and optimism in a world that can be discouraging. This support system is crucial in a country that provides the idea of opportunity, but also the freedom to fail.

Post College Community Organizations 

We spent some time talking with Zeta Phi Beta at the fair to get a feel for how supporting organizations are helping communities. Zeta Phi Beta has scholarship programs for young women to attend colleges in Delaware.

But What about Stephen A Smith and Magic? 

Respectful of their mission and cause, we chose to focus not on the celebrity of the moment, but on the topic they chose to highlight. We applaud ESPN, the First Take crew and SAS, who spent all of our cycles shining a light on the reason for their visit. “I’m incredibly grateful that we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk in terms of our support for the HBCUs” said Smith. 

For what it’s worth, Stephen A. Smith did predict a trip to the NBA finals for the Philadelphia 76ers. Smith referred to the Sixers as “the favorites to come out of the East and go to the NBA Finals.” 

As for Magic Johnson? 

But on a Friday in September, the Sixers investment in the Fieldhouse meant much more to the community at large and the youth of our future than what may happen next June.