Mentorship and learning about HBCUs

Published 9:30 pm Monday, February 17, 2020

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Dozens of people moved in rhythm and sang the “I Love My HBCU” chant on Saturday morning inside of the East Suffolk Recreation Center gym.

The chant was led by 16-year-old Adam Owens, head drum major for Nansemond River High School’s Magnificent Marching Warriors. Adam’s band nickname is “Dr. Energy,” and on Saturday the NRHS junior helped inspire a fantastic, energetic response from attendees at the fifth annual Carter G. Woodson Jubilee.

“At first I felt like they were a little scared to, you know, reciprocate the same energy I was putting out,” Adam said, “but eventually once they realized what was going on and how the chant went, I feel like the energy went up and they reciprocated a better energy — a more positive energy.”

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The 2020 Carter G. Woodson Jubilee was held at the East Suffolk Recreation Center on Saturday by the Golden Fold — Suffolk, a youth mentoring academy program of the Alpha Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. The annual Jubilee is named after the African American writer and historian, known as the “Father of Black History,” according to

Members of the public were encouraged to attend and learn more about historically black colleges and universities or HBCUs.

According to the website for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, defines an HBCU as “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.”

Young men wore shirts that each had a different name of more than a dozen HBCUs in the U.S. for the “HBCU Roll Call,” including local institutions like Hampton University and Norfolk State University. They presented each of these schools with quick historical facts and background information.

The Hampton University Marching Force drumline “Sticky Situation” performed at the event, and the Golden Fold Young Leaders read “Dream Deferred,” the powerful poem written by Langston Hughes. There was a video presentation of “Yard Talk 101,” a web-based series that highlights of HBCUs.

“I think today went very well,” said Golden Fold Director Richard Green said. “The young men performed well, and the crowd got into it. I think everyone took something from it.”

Attendees were encouraged to wear their collegiate colors at the Saturday Jubilee, and Norfolk State University alumna Julia Wright wore her green, gold and gray.

“I thought it was awesome,” Wright said about the Jubilee. “It was very informative, and it gave a lot of history in regards to HBCUs.”

Norfolk State University was represented at the Jubilee by NSU Senior Admissions Counselor Ricky Hopkins, one of the event speakers.

Norfolk State College was founded on Sept. 18, 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression. It was named the Norfolk Unit of Virginia Union University at its founding. The College became the independent Norfolk Polytechnic College in 1942, and two years later became a part of Virginia State College, according to

It later separated from Virginia State College, became fully independent in 1969, and attained university status in 1979.

According to Hopkins, there are two sayings at Norfolk State University. The first saying is that “we see the future in you,” he said, meaning the students.

“We see things in our students that they do not see in themselves as of yet. All of your goals, all of your drive, all of your ambition. Anything that motivates you, we see that in you,” he said.

“The second saying is we feel that ‘it takes a village to prepare a professional,’” Hopkins said, adding that NSU is “extremely family oriented” and “heavily invested” in the students’ education and success.

It’s that mentorship mentality that drives HBCUs like Norfolk State University, as well as programs like the Golden Fold. The Golden Fold is a male youth mentoring group that helps young men of middle and high school ages grow and develop their leadership skills.

NSU alumna Wright said the Golden Fold is a “great opportunity” for young men to receive the mentorship they need.

“We need more mentors for our young men,” she said, “to show them positive outlets.”