Come Saturday at 6 p.m., the UNC football team will kick off against the Aggies of N.C. A&T in Kenan Stadium. We should mark this moment as historic, as the Tar Heels have not recently taken the opportunity to play against a historically black college or university on our home turf.
Across the board, predominantly white institutions and HBCUs have high proportions of minority athletes on their teams, yet HBCUs are largely absent from Division I athletics and major conferences. Currently, not a single HBCU is a part of the Atlantic Coast Conference. N.C. A&T is a part of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which also includes N.C. Central University and South Carolina State.
This type of exclusion from major college athletic conferences denies representation of HBCU students from long-term careers in elite professional athletics, especially in major college revenue sports, which negatively affects HBCUs.
There are obviously talented students who attend historically black universities who are not receiving the same notoriety, coverage or advancement opportunities as students at their peer white institutions.
While this disparity might have to do with funding allocated for certain schools and their sports programs, who we decide to prioritize is intrinsically linked to the demographics of a school or community.