Midtown: Community

Once rivals, now comrades

For the first time since many can remember, Shaw and Saint Augustine’s universities will share the same homecoming weekend. Alumni will converge on the city to see two homecoming games, two homecoming parades, two homecoming queens.

But before the Saturday festivities, alumni from both universities are invited to a combined homecoming celebration, One Love, at Long Branch Entertainment Complex on Creekside Drive.

It’s more than a party. It’s also a grass-roots effort to bridge gaps between alumni and the future of their institutions.

The idea was born when Shaw alum Arnold Jiggetts, the brain trust behind Atlanta-based entertainment company AJ Productions, joined forces with Saint Aug alum Pierre Olds, a head of the Raleigh-based Dynasty5 entertainment conglomerate.

“When I was in school, there was an undertone of there always being a rivalry between Shaw and Saint Aug; sometimes in good taste and, sometimes, not so good,” said Jiggetts, a Baltimore native who finished at Shaw in 1998. “We are responsible individuals who people look up to as alumni. The idea now is to bring people together and show the other side.

“We can come together. We don’t have to always be in competition. We can network with one another and really do some good things,” Jiggetts added. “Shaw and Saint Aug are pretty much mirror images of each other. We can celebrate one another.”

Jiggetts said the One Love event is history in the making, not only because the two schools will come together to party under one roof, but also because the hosts set aside the competition of business.

Jiggetts, who lives in Atlanta now, and his partner, Rashaan Meador, never completely left Raleigh, bringing homecoming entertainment to Shaw for more than a decade. Olds and the Dynasty5 crew have built an impressive resume in this market, which includes the annual Soul Picnic, held this year at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheater.

“For us to come together and do a party, and not be competing or arrogant or claiming one is better than the other, symbolizes maturity and leadership to the younger generation,” Jiggetts said.

“We very well could have done these events independently and had our homecoming the same way we have the last 10 years, without coming together,” he added. “At least for one night, with all this history and all the relationships between people at these two schools, One Love sounds like a very, very good message.”

Tyreese Woulard McAllister, a 1990 graduate of Shaw who remains active in the alumni’s Washington, D.C., chapter, said she’s on board. New efforts to extend connections between the schools match efforts by fraternities and sororities to come together. The groups have joined on service projects, encouraging younger alumni involvement and mentoring programs for recent graduates.

“As we’ve gotten older, we’ve tried to institute an atmosphere as sister schools, too,” McAllister said. “We’re two HBCUs in Raleigh. We shouldn’t be rivaling each other except on the football field or basketball court.

“We’re trying to just create an aura of camaraderie.”

McAllister’s husband, Anthony, is a Raleigh native and 1988 graduate of Saint Aug.

“A lot of people look at it as a bad thing that the Shaw and Saint Aug homecomings are on the same weekend,” Anthony McAllister said. “It’s something the city should celebrate and get excited about, two HBCUs celebrating in a unified fashion. It’s definitely a start.”

And it’s the perfect example of why Raleigh, a rare home to two HBCUs just two miles apart, should have its own football classic like HBCUs across the country.

“Those are the kinds of things that need to happen, both on the alumni level and on the university level,” McAllister added. “Even if it’s just for one weekend, we can do things to build both universities.”

Dedglan Freeman, president of Shaw’s D.C. alumni chapter, echoes those sentiments, saying HBCUs are as much under attack as is the American Dream becoming more elusive to African-Americans.

“To have both homecomings on the same weekend is an excellent way to get younger alumni more involved so they can understand what we’re facing as HBCUs and, socially and economically, as African-Americans,” he said. “It’s an ideal opportunity to promote the HBCUs experience, as well as the American Dream.”