The significance of Historically Black Colleges or Universities can sometimes be lost in Wichita, where the nearest HBCU is two hours and another state away.
Mary Dean, president of Black Women Empowered in Wichita, saw a need and she has filled it by helping organize a weekend in Wichita that will highlight HBCUs and women’s basketball on top of raising scholarship money for local high school students.
Festivities begin Saturday, Nov. 2 with a Scholarship Gala at the Holiday Inn Select on S. Rock Road with the reception from 6-8 p.m. and the gala from 8 p.m.-midnight. The gala will feature a live band, a disc jockey, a dinner buffet with a cash bar and giveaways. Tickets are $40 with proceeds being donated to a scholarship fund.
The highlight of the weekend comes Sunday, Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. when the first HBCU women’s college basketball game will take place in Wichita with an exhibition between Langston University of Oklahoma and Lincoln University of Missouri at North High School. Tickets to the game, being billed as the Midwest Classic, are being sold on myvoicetix.com for $8.
“This has been the year of the woman, so now is a great time to highlight these phenomenal young women playing ball,” Dean said. “It’s very important for children, not just black children but all children in this city, to understand what HBCUs are and what they’re all about. HBCUs aren’t talked about as much or recognized like they should be in the Midwest, so we are bringing attention to them and to women’s basketball for the first time in Kansas.”
The weekend has been two years in the making for Dean, who tried to organize something similar last year. Plans fell through, but that didn’t discourage Dean. She partnered with the local chapter of Langston’s National Alumni Association and the rest has fallen into place.
“We actually planned to make this happen because in Wichita we knew there’s never been an historically black college basketball game,” said Emile McGill, president of Wichita’s Langston National Alumni Association chapter. “It’s never been seen here, so we know that it’s going to be of interest to a lot of people.”
Dean has been motivated to make the event a reality ever since she had an eye-opening experience the first time stepping on an HBCU campus when she visited Langston, where her cousin had graduated.
“He was always talking about how much he loved it there and what it did for his self-esteem and how much he learned about things that really aren’t talked about at other schools,” Dean said. “So being at Langston, it was so surreal. I wish I had done it years ago. In the Midwest, we don’t really talk about (HBCUs). I’m from Kansas City and it was never talked about in our schools.
“We want children of color, boys and girls, young and old to come see how awesome HBCUs are and what it means to go to a historically black college.”