Sometimes, people wonder why I love Grambling so much, and I, sometimes, wonder myself, but I remind myself of the history of Grambling. So, let me give you a lesson in Grambling History. In 1896, a group of Black Farmers decided that their child should have the same educational services as their White counterparts. So, they called on Booker T. Washington to send them a man to help start it.
Here comes this 7-foot tall Black man that by the age of 22, who owned a 100-acre sugar plant and, at the same time, managed to go to college. He started to build a school for young Black children. Now think about it; a Black school started by Black people, while most other HBCUs were started by wealthy northern Whites. But not GSU; this was a school started by Blacks for Blacks.
From this dream of poor Black farmers rose the most renowned HBCU in the nation.
No other school changed the face of sports more than GSU, giving the NFL its first Black player from an HBCU; their first Black quarterback to start a season; the first Black quarterback to start in the Super Bowl, win the Super Bowl and become the MVP of the Super Bowl; and the last school in Louisiana to win a national Championship in Basketball. (NBA Hall of Famer Willis Reed was on that team, as well as past GSU President Joseph Johnson.)
The World Famed Tiger Marching Band set the standard for Black collegiate marching bands. Before Jackson State, FAMU, and the Human Jukebox, there was the World Famed going to Tokyo, and it was the World Famed playing in the first Super Bowl for the NFL.
It was the World Famed that was chosen to play for the presidents of Africa. It is the World Famed alumni that now lead some of the most renowned music departments in the nation, from UMass to Howard. They are Gramblinites.
Grambling can count among its alumni the first Black sheriff in Indiana, the first Black Pro Tempore of the Legislature in Alaska, the first Black to be elected to the New Mexico Legislature, along with the Presidents and Provosts of Morgan State, Lincoln University, Cornell, and Norfolk.
This is why I love Grambling! Because when I walk the campus, I can wonder what great man or woman walked here. When I walk into Robinson Stadium, I can wonder what famous people will I see this Homecoming and how much will Grambling win by this time.
I can say without any remorse that Grambling State University is the Black Notre Dame. And a place where the Black boy becomes the Black man.