Thursday, February 28, 2008

Partying HBCU style

It didn't take long to figure out that this week is not so much about the CIAA as it is about one big alumni reunion for historically black colleges and universities.

That's HBCU to you, Jack.

My first stop Thursday was the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority's Golden Pleasure Day Party where I met more MEAC alums than CIAA folks.

The lone CIAA representative? Sequoyah Jones, a 2003 grad of Johnson C. Smith. She's letting her husband be the stay-at-home dad this week with their 5-month-old daughter while she parties with sorority sisters and other HBCU alums. She says it's not about the CIAA, but the experience of the week.

At the Celebrity Power Magazine party at Tilt, I met sisters Christal and Charlese Chapman who literally grew up with the CIAA. Charlese took in her first tournament when she was 4 months old.

"Our grandfather went to Smith, so it's always been part of our lives," Christal said.

In fact, their grandfather Eugene Dunn officiated CIAA games for more than 20 years.

The reunion continued at Blue Restaurant where Talk of the Town was just getting set up for the Heaven@Blue party while partygoers streamed in to get an early spot at the bar. Tonya Abbott, one of the party's organizers, expected about 400 people.

Also at Blue, a huge group of Kappa Alpha Psi brothers from as far away as Indianapolis, San Francisco and Seattle. They were bubbling over as they rattled off their alma maters -- Winston Salem State, N.C. Central -- but wait a minute guys, those aren't CIAA schools.

They were quick to tell me they used to be, and they still come out to support the conference and see their fraternity brothers.

After all, it's one big family reunion.

HBCU style.