Of the 107 historically black colleges and universities in the United States, only nine are considered to be in the Northern region of the country: one in Delaware, four in Maryland, two in Pennsylvania, and two in Washington, D.C. There are none in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, although the three states have a plethora of natives and transplanted residents who are HBCU alums. Still, the culture of HBCUs is thriving in the Northeast.
Daryl K. Roberts and Rachel E. Naughton, producers of the HBCU All-Star Dream Classic, are committed to moving it forward and exposing numerous youth to the educational and athletic opportunities the college network offers. Roberts is a graduate of Lincoln University and member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Naughten is a St. Paul’s College (Virginia) alumnus.
The duo staged the Dream Classic on August 5 at Rucker Park through the Harlem-based nonprofit Bridging Structural Holes, founded in 2018 by its CEO, the Harlem-born and -bred Roberts. The event featured 40 men’s and women’s HBCU basketball players, live musical entertainment, step shows by Divine Nine fraternities and sororities, marching bands, and cheerleaders.
The two men’s and two women’s squads were composed solely of ballers who collectively attended 28 HBCUs. New York City basketball point guard royalty Kenny Anderson, the current men’s head coach at Fisk University, served as one of the coaches. The Booker Tees won the men’s game 71-59 over the MLKings, with Yasim Hooker of Miles College earning MVP. SoJo’s Truth edged Althea’s Aces 51-46 in the women’s matchup and Bryanna Brown of Lincoln University was named MVP.
“What I am most proud of,” Roberts told the AmNews, “is that all 40 of the players received their college degrees. We want to expand the message that student-athletes can gain a high-quality academic and athletic experience at HBCUs. They don’t have to attend PWIs (predominantly white institutions) to create prosperous career pathways after college.” HBCUs are in Roberts’s DNA: Two of his grandparents attended HBCUs, as did his mother (Oakwood) and father (Morgan State).
Roberts is also the organizer of the HBCU Harlem Renaissance Classic. The games and activities were held at City College over the Thanksgiving holiday in the past two years but will move to the Gauchos Gym, scheduled for November 25.
Harlem basketball legend and longtime youth advocate Bob McCullough was honored with the inaugural Bob McCullough Community Icon Award. Sponsors for the affair included Northwest Mutual, M&T Bank, Champion, and Wilson. KRSB Radio Philadelphia streamed the event live. HBCU Gameday and For Us By Us Network (FUBU) were also represented as prominent media partners of the Dream Classic.