It’s all about coming home

Guest columnist

“Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.”

– Christian Morganstien

I have spent months contemplating what I should write about for this Homecoming edition of the Gramblinite Newspaper. Should I go back to my roots and write about the guys who went to the NFL and where they are now? Should I write about my experiences since graduating from GSU? And then it hit me: why not write about the experience of coming back to the place where I felt safe for 3 1_,2 years of my life even though it was as foreign to me as being in another country. The majority of you reading this are currently students at Grambling State University. Most of you will not understand the brevity of this article because you are ensconced in the experience of GSU all day every day from August till May. I know this with certainty because I felt the same way when I was a student. I didn’t understand all the hype and emotion that accompanied coming back to Grambling. We always said Grambling with disdain. But now I get it. It has been nine years since my last trek to this place, and I feel the need to explain “it” to those of you reading this who don’t have school spirit, those of you who don’t like being at Grambling, those of you who just don’t get it yet. Grambling is one of those places that a lot of us dream of. It may not look like Louisiana Tech or ULM, but the education, social aspects, and sense of legacy that you get at Grambling are second to none-things that you won’t get at those other schools. Believe that! It may not be like many institutions of higher learning, but Grambling is the place that has embraced us and tried to treat us well. The place where we have learned to socialize with people from other states, other countries, even other continents. Where else would you find people who speak four or five other languages-with English being at the bottom of the list, and oh-by-the-way look like you, too? Where else would you get the rich heritage of African Americans like the second most winningest coach in all of college football? The first Black Man to play in the NFL? The first and so far only African American quarterback to be a Super Bowl MVP? Where our Tiger Marching Band was the entertainment for Super Bowl I, and also the first band to make a television commercial? Where the likes of Willis Reed, Eryka Badu, and Judi Ann Mason were educated? Where our beloved and afore-mentioned Coach-of-all-Coaches, Eddie G. Robinson graduated 80% of his players, and until the 1980’s, came in second, only behind the University of Notre Dame, with players who were drafted to play professional football. This is the same place that a movie was made in the 1970’s that stared Harry Belafonte and Bruce Jenner. Big time, indeed! Indeed a lot of us didn’t pay attention to the rich heritage of our school while we were here. But think for a moment: have you ever told someone that you attend Grambling State University and they gave you a look of awe? A look that said “You go to Grambling, wow?!” Pay attention to the look. Appreciate the look. As alums, we come back in masse because this place is home. I am going to enjoy my time here this weekend as never before, taking it all in, seeing friends I haven’t seen in years, visiting the new buildings and classrooms. I’ll do this and remember the good ole days. It may not seem like it now, but when you leave this place us Alums like to call home, you all will understand it. Grambling is one of those places that hit you once you graduate. Homecoming-coming home. It’s not where you live, but the place where they understand you.Amy Williamson Barton is a former Gramblinite sports staff member from Chicago who graduated in 1991.