This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life.
If you were to walk the hallways of Butler College Prep and ask students to quote a trending phrase, they may look you in the eyes and say “ We had a time last night!” And if you were to ask anyone who went on our recent HBCU tour in October, they would tell you about the same — “We had a time last on that trip!”
This October, the college team and a few chaperones embarked on a trip down south for our annual HBCU Tour with 40 seniors.
THE ROAD TRIP DOWN
Headed towards Atlanta at 5 a.m., our coach bus was initially full of laughs and excitement that turned to silence and slumber. Once we entered Kentucky, music began to blast, laughter filled the atmosphere, trivia games were played, and watched a few movies. Students, who may not have necessarily spoken to each other, were now creating road trip memories that will last a lifetime.
We took plenty of rest stops. Whenever we made stops in different cities, students explored the areas and tried new food. Students were even engaged in talking about how the prices of products varied in different parts of the country. By the time we made it to Atlanta, students were exhausted but ready to explore the illustrious HBCU campuses that they had heard so much about.
FIRST STOP: TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY & ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY
Our first day of campus tours brought us to Tuskegee University and Alabama State University.
Tuskegee University welcomed us with open arms. We learned about how the history of the institution was built on the backs and intellectualism of greats like Booker T. Washington. We were even amazed at how the school has worked endlessly to preserve places like Washington’s home and a former hospital on campus — which was the only health care facility Black Americans could go to because of segregation. Tuskegee offered a family atmosphere and Southern hospitality that allowed students the opportunity to ask any questions, no matter if it was pertaining to major or student life experience.
Our next stop was Alabama State University! By the time we got to Alabama State, we made our way to the cafeteria and enjoyed a quality meal with students and faculty. Students got the opportunity to see what it would be like for them to have a college meal plan and learn how to navigate crowded spaces.
Our tour at Alabama State was led by amazing students who told us all about the history of the campus. We learned about some abstract artifacts that sit right in the middle of campus. We learned about how the campus was forced to name a building after a member of the Ku Klux Klan but also how they persevered through moments like this. One thing that students really enjoyed was learning that if they applied to the school with a 2.5 GPA or better, they would receive a Presidential Scholarship. As we wrapped up our visit, students even got to get a glimpse at Ray J and Teyana Taylor filming a TV show on campus.
SECOND STOP: MOREHOUSE COLLEGE, SPELMAN COLLEGE & CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY
On our third day of the tour, we turned Atlanta upside down. In the morning, we visited Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta University. These particular visits were super special from the jump because we got to reunite with two Butler alum: Antonio Chambers (c/o 2022, current Morehouse student) and Taylor Sibley (c/o 2022, current Clark Atlanta student).
During our tour, we got to see how, even though all three campuses were connected, they were also distinctly different. Our young men enjoyed Morehouse because of the brotherhood and accountability that was offered. Our young women enjoyed Spelman because of the sisterhood and creativity that exists on the campus. It was such an incredible experience to hear them rave about how they want to be the next Stacy Abrams and Keisha Knight Pullman. Spelman and Morehouse showed our students that, even if a campus is small, you can still enjoy rich history and get everything that you need.
Clark Atlanta gave our students a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Throughout the tour, we were intrigued but not shocked to learn that numerous buildings on the promenade were once civil rights meeting locations and housed very important moments in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s journey. Students were also excited to learn that due to the structure of the three colleges, they could attend Clark and still attend classes at the other two. Lastly, students got the opportunity to shop till they dropped at the bookstore and buy themselves some historic swag.
During the evening, the students got a chance to tour the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and his childhood home.
Being able to see the place where such a man lived part of his life really brought tears to many of our eyes; one student even stated “This shows us that we are not confined to where we come from, but we are born to make a difference!”
THIRD STOP: ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY
On Wednesday morning, we boarded the bus in Atlanta and set out for Alabama A&M and the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.
When we arrived on the campus, we made sure to pull up in HBCU style! We had the Swag Surf playing and students proudly shouted “A&M!”. Our tour was characterized by the prominent landscape of the school and how much they take pride in the campus. Our tour guides did an exceptional job giving us a sense of school spirit and informing us about how Alabama A&M works really hard to make sure the professor-student relationship is strong.
We also all shared a moment of tough education when we learned that the campus is built on what used to be a market where slaves were abused and sold. However, we also understood that it’s a victory for a place that once symbolized pain to now graduate hundreds of students annually.
Once we were done at Alabama A&M, we set off for Selma, Alabama. Once there, we toured the Civil Rights Museum and gained a lot of knowledge into the planning that went into planning the infamous march on “Bloody Sunday.” Walking the hallways of the museum, students got a glimpse of images that were hard to look at. It was incredibly difficult for Black and Brown students to look at a noose and images of children their age being beaten for the right to vote. We eventually finished our tour of Selma by marching the Pettus Bridge. I’ll tell you this – seeing so many of the students’ faces as they marched while thinking about the history of the bridge was an experience like none other. It was history remade!
LAST STOPS: TENNESSE STATE UNIVERSITY, FISK UNIVERSITY & CENTRAL STATE UNIVERSITY
Our final three days were filled with fun at Tennessee State, Fisk University, and Central State University.
During our trip to Fisk, we got a chance to have two Fisk alumni on our staff, our college counselor, Ms. Alexander, and our boys basketball coach, Mr. Jeff, lead the tour. They taught about the rich tradition and the family atmosphere of Fisk. It seemed like everywhere we turned, someone knew who they were. Our students got to even sit in on impromptu symposium with a former Butler alum and learn about student life and financial aid.
Tennessee State and Central State followed up with very similar experiences. On both campuses, we were welcomed by current students and immediately initiated into the culture of their respective campuses. Our students were excited to find out that Tennessee State offers one of the best nursing programs around. A few of them even changed it to their top college choice.
Central State, on the other hand, gave a huge sense of joy to our students that want to major in business. Our tour guide not only did a great job showing us the campus and teaching us cheers but also informing us that 22.9% of Central State graduates were business majors! One thing that our students loved tremendously about all the campuses but definitely at the Central State was the Black Greek life culture. They were able to speak to a few people from different organizations and learn how each group greatly impacts their campuses in a multitude of ways.
SOME FINAL WORDS
HBCUs are needed! Throughout the years, HBCUs have often been demonized as institutions that offer less-than quality education and don’t look good on resumes. However, what many of us learned on this trip is that many HBCUs have been the breeding grounds for many great movements and leaders throughout American history. If afforded the opportunity, students across the city should attend an HBCU tour.
Big shoutout to Team College at Butler College Prep. Y’all did that!