History of the BCFHOF and BCFHOF Classic

History of the BCFHOF and BCFHOF Classic

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A big and bold 2021 Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic is coming to Canton, with sights and sounds sure to thrill everyone in attendance.

Two legendary programs — Tennessee State University and Grambling State University — are scheduled to meet at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium next year. That showdown of Tigers vs. Tigers will occur over Labor Day Weekend, involving both their storied football teams and their spectacular bands.

Earlier this year, the 2020 Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic, set to feature Howard University and Central State University and originally scheduled for this weekend along with the game’s related events, became yet another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The disappointment only galvanizes the resolve of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Black College Football Hall of Fame to make the 2021 BCFHOF Classic more special and forever memorable.

For those who have never witnessed a Classic, they are like no other football experience. While the weekend is centered around a football game featuring two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in a postseason, bowl-like atmosphere, unlike traditional college bowl games, Classics take place during college football’s regular season. They often are accompanied by entertaining battles of the bands, tailgate parties, social events and concerts. It is truly an entertainment and sports extravaganza.

The annual Classic is only one piece of a growing and strengthening partnership between the PFHOF and the BCFHOF.

James “Shack” Harris and Doug Williams, two African American quarterbacks who blazed trails in the National Football League, founded the BCFHOF in 2009 to preserve the history and honor the greatest football players, coaches and contributors from HBCUs.

The first HBCUs were founded in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington, D.C., before the American Civil War with the purpose of providing black youths – largely prevented, due to racial discrimination, from attending established colleges and universities – with a basic education and training to become teachers or tradesmen. HBCUs expanded their presence in the years following the Civil War, and today more than 100 can be found in 21 states.

In 2016, the PFHOF and the BCFHOF announced a partnership to collaborate on initiatives, events and the eventual establishment of the Black College Football Hall of Fame Museum in Canton to preserve the legacies of football standouts from HBCUs for generations to come.

The current gallery honoring the members of the BCFHOF, inside the PFHOF, will be expanded in the coming years, with proceeds from the annual Classic going toward the creation and operation of that enhanced space.

Since its inception, the BCFHOF has inducted 90 members – more than a third of whom also are members of the PFHOF. Among that distinguished list are Mel Blount (Southern University), Willie Davis (Grambling), Richard Dent (Tennessee State), Walter Payton (Jackson State), Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) and Michael Strahan (Texas Southern) to name only a few. Roughly 10 percent of the players enshrined into the PFHOF attended an HBCU.

In addition to the BCFHOF Museum and annual Classic football games, the partnership with the PFHOF will include: hosting future annual BCFHOF induction ceremonies, expanded educational programming and special events at the PFHOF, scholarships for students attending or desiring to attend an HBCU and a paid executive fellowship for an HBCU graduate.

In 2019, the inaugural BCFHOF Classic took place over Labor Day Weekend in spectacular fashion. Led by the PFHOF team, hundreds of volunteers helped make the weekend a success and brought the community together.

Alabama A&M edged Morehouse 35-30 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Tickets for the 2021 BCFHOF Classic, including the game and ancillary events, will go on sale in the coming months.

For more details about the Black College Football Hall of Fame, go to: ProFootballHOF.com/black-college-football-hall-of-fame/

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