Florida A&M University's homecoming promises to be "an epic return" with thousands of alumni from FAMU and other HBCUs expected to fly in from their hometowns to join in on the many festivities of homecoming season.

Due to COVID-19, schools such as Howard University, North Carolina A&T University, Morehouse College, and many other HBCUs decided to cancel their homecoming events or offer hybrid alternatives.This year, FAMU has decided to go big with its Homecoming 2021 plans.

The homecoming committee rolled up their sleeves and planned several special activities for attendees to experience throughout the eight days of homecoming celebrations that began on Oct. 23 and conclude with Saturday's Homecoming Concert featuring performances from Lil Baby and Moneybagg Yo. 

Friday and Saturday of FAMU's homecoming week will feature several events including a plaque laying ceremony at the Eternal Flame and a private donor reception.

Tanya Tatum, director of Student Health Services at FAMU, advises everyone to be aware that a pandemic still exists. "One of the things that we're asking people to do is to make sure that they're in a good space and get tested; that's going to be important," Tatum said. "Check and make sure everything's OK, particularly if you think you may have been around somebody who might have tested positive. We're just asking people to take the normal precautions."

Friday will begin with a Ribbon-cutting and naming ceremony at the new Will Packer Performing Arts Amphitheater. The Student Government Association designed the $2-million theater as a gift to future students. Celebrity appearances included Hollywood producer and honoree Will Packer, comedian Kevin Hart, and actress Taraji P. Henson. 

Packer, who earned an engineering degree at FAMU and anonymously made a $500,000 donation toward the theater's completion, said he wants to motivate others to step forward to invest in students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Until recently, Paker's name remained anonymous. 

"HBCU giving has never been more essential than it is today. I'm honored to give back to the institution that has given so much to me and others over the years," said Packer. "I hope this accomplishment serves as an inspiration for future generations of FAMUans who will know the success I achieved has its foundations in the same halls, classrooms, and dorms where they reside.

The ceremony will be followed by ESPN's popular morning debate show, First Take, hosted by Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim Rose. The show will be open to fans with free admission. 


Friday activities ranged from the Homecoming Convocation with keynote speaker comedian Roy Wood, Jr, to the inaugural FAMFEST, a celebration of donors, sponsors, alumni, and students.

Other events include "Straight from the Hart" featuring comedian Kevin Hart & The Plastic Cup Boyz, Rattler Strike Band Festival, and the National Panhellenic Conference Step Show, hosted by Mel Mitchell.

The grand weekend finale will kick off Saturday with FAMU's Homecoming Parade, featuring more than 60 groups and bands. The homecoming game with FAMU going toe-to-toe with Grambling State University will be the day's second main event. 

Homecoming might be the highlight for current students attending HBCUs, but the alumni are who Homecoming is really intended to celebrate. Col. Gregory Clark, president of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association, says the organization anticipates over 40,000 people arriving in town for Saturday's football game against Grambling State University. 

This is the first Homecoming in two years, and alumni are seemingly excited to be a part of one of the legendary Homecomings in HBCU culture. Other dope activities throughout the week were Market Monday on the Quad, Housing Step show, and Tuesday's Taste the Rattler and fashion show. Wednesday included a Health and Beauty Expo, Comedy Show featuring social media comedians Pretty Vee and Desi Banks. Thursday's events involved Industry Cluster, Taste of a Rattler, Thirsty Thursday, and Pep Rally with celebrity appearances made by Ari Fletcher.