A flood of emotions almost overwhelmed me, as I stood on Battle Street waiting for the Talladega College Homecoming Parade to begin. So many years ago, I left home a teenage girl and returned home a woman. I chose Talladega College because of its quaintness and its low student-teacher ratio. When our senior class visited the college, many shied away, saying it was too small and old. A colleague teased earlier this week, ‘the thirteenth grade.’ I took a linguistics class my senior year that only contained three people, including the professor. Talladega College, small enough for me, creating comfort and closeness. I had been sheltered as a girl at home, doted on by both my mom and grandmother for as long as I could remember. Although Talladega was only forty-five minutes away from home, I wanted to stay on campus and would instead remain there when I could have gone home; often, my mother and grandmother would find their way to me. Walking from the Laundromat, I might see them pull in grinning and laughing. We would go for a Sonic foot long, or some fast food.
The emotions flood my soul for so many reasons. I became the first girl in the family to go away to school (45 minutes is still away ya’ll). I recall my whole family helping out with gas money, clothes, words of encouragement, and celebration. Talladega College is where I fell in love, the more, with English; be it grammar, literature, or writing. It is where I became amazed at all night papers due the next morning, midnight waffles during exam weeks, my sands, hell nights, panty raids, the honors dorm, and my professors (Mrs. Cook, Dr. Jeffers, Mrs. Sikes, Dr. Savedra, Dr. Lindsey, and Dr. Owings). I could not have been more enthralled with the history, the heritage, and beauty of this place of my own: William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, Swayne Hall, and The Amistad Murals. It is where I met one of my best girls and my sorority sisters.
With my heart glad and full, I walked the small campus, listened to the humungous band filled with African Americans, mostly male. Proud to say that the talented youth chose the impactful route of a college education. I peered into the window of Swayne Hall. I could see the winding stairwell and its steep stairs. Swayne Hall, built by slaves, became the first building to open its doors to former slaves. When I attended, Swayne Hall housed the liberal arts courses. Talladega College, a liberal arts institution, is known to produce many graduates who go on to postgraduate and doctoral programs.
I will never forget those foundational years and the lasting impact they made upon my spirit. I would do it all over again!
Talladega, Talladega, the Alpha Lyrae Vega of them ALL! Homecoming 2017!
by Harriette Thompkins