Atlanta Braves Celebrate the AUC with Annual HBCU Night
Image via Atlanta Braves
By: Auzzy Byrdsell, Editor in Chief
As Atlanta is home to one of the strongest Black collegiate communities in the country, the Atlanta Braves celebrated HBCU spirit and essence at the annual Braves HBCU Night. As the Braves defeated the New York Mets 7-0 on Aug 23, HBCU students and alumni from across the Metro Atlanta area packed Truist Park in gear representing schools like FAMU, Alabama A&M, the schools of the AUC and more. From the first pitch to the final inning, Truist Park and The Battery was flooded, with 35,000+ fans, music, activities and spotlights that all featured HBCU talent and representatives.
During the pregame ceremonies, the presidents of three of the undergraduate AUC institutions were honored on the field. Helene Gayle of Spelman College, Dr. George French of Clark Atlanta University and Dr. Kevin James of Morris Brown College all received applause from the crowd.
Athletic staff from the AUC were also honored. New athletic director and Morehouse College alum Harold Ellis was in attendance with KC Carter and LaWanda Pearson. They serve as the head coaches for baseball and softball at Clark Atlanta University.
Miss Cobb County and Hampton University graduate, Lulu Louizaire performed the National Anthem while Spelman’s Chair of the Board of Trustees, Lovette Russell threw the opening pitch. The National Anthem was concluded with a helicopter flyover piloted by Lt. Nico Rivas-Sepulveda (Morehouse College graduate), Lt. Ryan Daniels (Tuskegee University graduate) and Lt. Zuri Stewart (Prairie View A&M graduate).
“What’s important to look at is that sports are a unifier; we have to do our part to unify people under one brand,” Eugene Brooks said.
Brooks is the director of diversity marketing for the Braves.
“When we bring people together, it’s important to educate them on each other as we collaborate under one roof,” he said.
Since the organization came to Atlanta in 1996, the Braves have had several players who were HBCU alumni that were also recognized. Bill Lucas (Florida A&M University), Ralph Garr (Grambling State University), Marvin Freeman (Jackson State University), and Marquis Grissom (Florida A&M University) are a few Braves alumni who attended HBCUs.
“We have around five HBCUs here and Atlanta’s considered the Black mecca. You need to celebrate the institutions that create Black excellence and create the Black mecca,” Kendra Byrd said.
Byrd is an alumna of Albany State University and currently has a son enrolled at Morehouse.
Professional sports teams across the country in multiple sports have started having HBCU nights. The Atlanta Dream will hold their own HBCU night next Tuesday on Aug 29 as they take on the Phoenix Mercury.
“The fans are definitely appreciating it– especially when you create something of substance,” Brooks said.
He said the Braves are looking for new ways to embrace HBCU and express their intentions behind HBCU support in the future.
Copy Edited by: Kobe Scales, Sports Editor