When I graduated from West Philly High, it was 1976. The country, and especially Philly was in the midst of its Bicentennial celebration. I knew that it was time to change my surroundings, and I had a taste of Hampton from visiting my sister, who went there from 1969-'73. I passed up Temple University, because it meant commuting from home, and went to Hampton University. I was amazed that so many ideas of what was hip came together at Hampton. North vs. South...East Coast vs. West... I strongly recommend getting away from home for college. You get the doors flung open to test out your independence. You are free to sink or swim, and for a while I was sinking fast. It took me 5 years to get my degree, because in my Sophomore year, I remember going to class about 12 times. Of course I am exaggerating. I never scheduled classes after 12 on Fridays, because we had to gear up for the weekend! Gotta get my flashlight out for the Parliament/Funkadelic parties! Sinbad is obsessed about the soul music of the 70's, and I am right there with him in spirit! I was exposed to every type of music, it was even cool to play the hard rock, as long as it had a rich bass line and a thumping beat. It also had to be played very LOUD !! Everything sounds decent when your rib cage is getting pounded. I still follow the diversity of music, I love the changes that a new artist's style brings to the mix. Sugarhill Gang first threw down while I was in Hampton. It was an exciting time, because the musical possibilities seemed endless. Rap/Hip Hop became a huge hit, and it was only the beginning of a multi-billion dollar addition to the music industry. I am always listening to the music of that period, these "oldies" are a part of me.
PFunk was practically a religion, and Roy Ayers Ubiquity was music at it's coolest.
The Isleys & Stevie ruled airwaves....I had a thing for Ms. Hyman .... Me and my then-Boo coolin' out on the yard! .... My photo-art for the yearbook's "Student Life" section....
The music was the soundtrack of my school days. Yes, I carried a boom box for a while. On the weekends, the faculty and most staff went home, and the campus was all ours. I cranked up the jams on the "block", the area outside the cafeteria where we hung out after dinner. Whenever I hear a jam from those days,it brings back in vivid detail specific sights and emotions, sometimes even an exact instance when this song was playing. Its like you can put time in proper perspective. To know what I'm talking about, you have be a good 10, or maybe even 20 years into adulthood to really appreciate music that speaks of your innocence. You need time to look back to when you thought you were so cool, when nobody could tell you "nuttin'", and be able to say, "What the Hell was I thinking?" People used to give talks to us in Jr High, talk about when they were our age, yet in the 50's...I would think...Man! The 50's? Ancient history! I'm living for now, that time is over, move on... now I see what they were talking about...reminiscing is an addictive thing. A college campus is the last outpost, the last time you will be able to be so broke and still have room and board. The social atmosphere in this "community of our peers" was like nothing we would experience before or ever again.I am amazed at the fact that my biggest worry in the world, my mission in life at that time was trying to "get some". My dorm roommate was a DJ, and we had a party in our room, or one to throw elsewhere just about every weekend. We would be jamming, moving the crowd... and it seems like everything is right with the world! But there was a price to be paid in the classroom for all this unrestrained freedom. When the smoke cleared, lets just say it took some serious "book learnin'" needed to get that piece of paper, even with an extra year. As an old joke goes, "Some folks graduated 'Magna Cum Laude', some were 'Suma Cum Laude'...when I got my degree, I said 'Thank ya Laude!'" I can look back on my college years as the best of times. The line I keep hearing from friends, the old "if I knew then what I know now" line. But you can't go back. You can physically go back, we visit as alumni, but you can never re-capture the spirit of the times, as they were when you lived them. You can never really go back. Shit.
For Hampton University's Official site, click the picture of W.E.B. DuBois Hall below:
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