Hampton vs Howard 2021: Looking back at the legacy of a historic HBCU rivalry

Hampton vs Howard in the Truth and Service Classic
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Two Historically Black Universities. One goal. To educate, unify and accelerate the Black community. On Saturday at 12pm ET on NBCSN, they’ll meet on the gridiron for the Truth and Service Classic, both seeking bragging rights in a rivalry that goes back more than a century.

Less than 150 miles apart in the DMV, Howard University in Washington, D.C. and Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, have been staples of academic excellence and empowerment within the HBCU community for over a century. Over those years, both institutions have worked to educate and amplify the voices of generations of leaders. While both schools have promoted academic scholarship since their founding, Howard in 1867, and Hampton in1868, both have also played an integral role in the realm of athletics. On Saturday, Howard (0-2) and Hampton (1-1) will meet for another chapter in a storied football rivalry that also provides an opportunity to spotlight the rich history between the two schools.

How to Watch Hampton vs Howard:

Hampton vs Howard airs live at 12pm ET on NBCSN on Saturday, September 18th. All coverage also streams on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Chris Lewis will handle play-by-play, and will be joined by analyst Jay Walker – a former Howard University quarterback – and reporter Zora Stephenson.

Over a century of athletic history at HBCUs

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Black schools were fielding sports teams, but there was still widespread segregation in colleges and college athletics.  In 1912 the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), originally the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association, was founded to organize regular competition between schools and provide structure for the emerging athletic powerhouses at the universities.  A group of colleges, including Howard University and Hampton University (formerly Hampton Institute), created the CIAA to further HBCU athletics. Virginia Union University, Shaw, and Lincoln were the other founding members of the CIAA.

History of the Hampton-Howard rivalry

Although Howard currently competes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Hampton in the Big South Conference, the rivalry between those HU schools persists today. Who exactly is “The Real HU” and which school earns that right to bear that title is an argument that can still be found throughout social media and popular culture, and unavoidably appears in any conversation held by alumni.

Before Hampton officially transitioned to the Big South Conference in 2018, the Pirates were also a part of the MEAC and competed against Howard annually.

The first official meeting between both teams occurred over a century ago in 1908, and this Saturday, September 18th, both programs will meet again for the 96th time, at this year’s inaugural Truth & Service Classic.

While the Hampton Pirates lead the series 53-41-1, the Howard Bison are looking to earn their first victory of the season, playing a “home game” at the brand new Audi Field in Washington D.C., home of the Major League Soccer team D.C. United. Howard won four straight matchups between 2011 and 2014, but Hampton has taken the last four straight dating back to a 37-19 win in 2015.

 Spotlight shines on football and culture

The rich legacy and history of this matchup makes the Classic even more intriguing to watch, as viewers will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the special HU rivalry that remains a highly anticipated matchup over 100 years after its first meeting.

This Saturday, Howard University and Hampton University will both have an opportunity to shine light on the magic of HBCU culture and athletic competition.

Heavily Guarded Nation's Capital Hosts Presidential Inauguration

This competition will forever be a touchstone in HBCU culture and athletics. You’ll hear it through the harmonious sounds of the Howard University Showtime Marching Band, which was also featured at the Presidential Inauguration parade with Howard alumna, Vice President Kamala Harris, and in the cheers from Hampton University students and alumni at pep rallies on campus and from the stadium,. The opportunities for exposure for both programs on Saturday are significant, as after a two-year wait since the last matchup in 2019, the world will have another chance to watch two great HBCUs show why their history and legacy matters.  Tune into NBCSN at 12pm ET on Saturday to see if Howard will have a chance to win their first rivalry matchup since 2014 or if Hampton will continue to dominate against the Bison.

RELATED: How to watch Hampton vs Howard – Live stream, TV info, kickoff time for the Truth and Service Classic football game


*Author’s Note: Alex D. Williams is two-time published author and a senior at Howard University, from New Orleans, Louisiana. She studies Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Sports Administration. You can follow her on social media at @Alexdwilliams2_. You can also follow her sports podcast: A Girl & Her Grandpa: A Sports Podcast through the generations found on Apple, Spotify, and several other platforms.