Thousands of students, alumni and supporters of HBCU's from around the country took part in the tail-gating festivities before kick-off. Much like homecomings at HBCU's, the event was a family affair. Parents were observed throughout the event with young children in tow, ensuring that Black College traditions pass on and thrive for generations to come.
The Nation's Football Classic renews a gridiron rivalry between Howard and Morehouse that dates back to 1923 when Howard defeated Morehouse 10-0. Coach Gary Harrell, with the 30-29 win, was able to carry the tradition forward and back up his motto for the 2012 season: "Road to Redemption: No Roadblocks. No Shortcuts. No Excuses."
The Mordecai Wyatt Johnson - Benjamin E. Mays Student Debate on Friday was a major highlight of the "More than a Game" academic program. Before a capacity crowd in Cramton Auditorium, the Morehouse and Howard debate teams sparred over the some of the thorniest issues on the political landscape - the role affirmative action in today's society and the emergence of state voter ID laws. The Honorable Alexander Williams, Jr., U.S. District Court Judge from Maryland, served as moderator of this year's debate, known widely as the "Game Before the Game."
On Thursday, the "Presidential Symposium: A Focus on Excellence in STEM, Youth Voter Participation and Interpersonal Relationships" also helped to bolster this year's academic program. Leading African-American intellectuals, including Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D. and Alicia Nicki Washington, Ph.D. of Howard University, discussed ways to encourage scientific achievements by Black students in education. Howard professor Lorenzo Morris, Ph.D. and Howard University Student Association President Brittany Foxhall joined another group of panelists who delved into the importance of the youth vote in the 2012 presidential elections. To close out the symposium, students participated in a boisterous talk on romantic relationships featuring Lamman Rucker, the actor known for roles in "Why Did I Get Married" and "Meet the Browns."
The weekend concluded with a Rankin Memorial Chapel service at Cramton Auditorium. As the main speaker, Dr. Johnetta B. Cole, the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and former president of Spelman College, delivered a passionate address on the significance of HBCUs, the need for alumni support, and the importance of living a life of faith. At the inception of the Nation's Football Classic, Morehouse President Robert M. Franklin and Howard President Sidney A. Ribeau insisted that the Classic be designed to showcase Black College contributions to the nation and the world, and go beyond a single football game. The second annual Nation's Football Classic and the enriching "More than a Game" program delivered on that commitment.