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• Jun 5, 2023

Last month, fans of culture, history, music and togetherness were treated to a truly special event at the first-ever HBCU Festival Presented by TD Bank at the Mann in Philadelphia.

The free festival was a community event celebrating Historically Black Colleges and Universities, that included celebrity appearances, marching bands, educational workshops and most of all, students from all across the country sharing their HBCU experience.

TD Bank worked with several aspiring storytellers and asked them to capture the sights and sounds of the event. We also asked them to share their experience attending an HBCU and what an event like this means to them and their alma maters.

Here's what some had to say!

Nyla Branam - Delaware State University

I'm somebody who deeply cares about the history that roots in me. So being a part of a historically black college and university means more than just a school.

It's an environment where I'm able to thrive around people who have similar interests as me and have teachers in a scholastic environment that want to empower and uplift those who had the same background and culture as me. So it's very, very, very prevalent within my life, and it's something that I always proud to represent my HBCU.

I'll also say that not everyone knows how awesome the historically black universities can be not only to their academic success, but also their success just within their industry. And having those people who look like them talk like them, speak like them to uplift their interest in their career field.

Danielle Mullins -Delaware State University

I have my own photography business and I do freelance work. So today I'm just capturing some great images and highlights of this amazing event to showcase the amazingness of the HBCU lifestyle and everything that could do.

The heart of HBCU means to me personally, just being around like-minded people, being around the culture, whether wherever you come from. You can always depend on the HBCU to bring that love and that culture together. Personally, the band, the majorette dance team, those are the heart of HBCU. Me personally, I was a part of it.

Chelsea Abrams - Delaware State University

I'm actually creating history.

[This event] makes me think that I'm doing something that is bigger than myself. And so that's what it means to be a part of a HBCU and continuing to always want to rise to the occasion and grow as a community.

The story I want to tell is, is that we're a community full of people with dreams, goals, and we're willing to go our way to do just that in the means of I think I was going too far into that and the means of just being able to spend time with each other, learn, grow, actually just being able to educate one another.

Check out the video this team produced below.

Lonnie Stevens Jr. - Lincoln University

A historically black college means a path of my ancestors who paved a path for me to grow knowledge of people of my kind and my color.

It's an awesome feeling because of me being in the military. I was in the Marine Corps and had the same opportunity. It's ensuring that there's a lot of people like me are also going through the same problems and same trial tribulations like me.

I think today is a great day to share that knowledge and to share your experience, to let people know it's okay and you're going to make it.

Jamila Phillips - Cheney University

What it means to be a part of a historical black college is I'm history.

I go to the nation's first HBCU, and I'm a first-generation college student in my family. So, I'm just making history, leaving a legacy.

This event has really been amazing. It's really different to experience the culture firsthand from all of the other HBCUs, all together in one place. And TD really pulled together really nicely.

Alan D. Graham III - Cheney University

I go to Cheney University, the nation's first HBCU founded in 1837. I'm able to be a part of a lineage that's continuing and ongoing. Aside from the fact that I'm in an atmosphere where there's a lot of culture, it's just really spectacular because in general, Cheney comes from a really great sense of family the culture is really close and tight knit.

Being at this festival, it just feels like we all have the shared sense of experiences and backgrounds that unite us. And I think that's just a phenomenal part to this festival sponsored by TD Bank.

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