Get to know the background of this heated debate a little better before the upcoming homecoming season. 

Some of the music industry’s most prominent rappers have named-dropped HU in songs over the years. Nah, not Harvard University. But Hampton University and Howard University, two Black Ivy League historically Black colleges. 

Take The Notorious B.I.G., for example, who name-dropped Howard in his song Kick In The Door, or Drake’s Used To (Hampton). 

Each year, whether during a Debate team competition, Battle of the Bands, or Cheerleading, school pride is at an all-time high for Hampton and Howard alumni and students, particularly if and when they face off against one another. The winner of the game gets bragging rights as “The Real HU.” 

The above could not be more evident than at the Hampton versus Howard football games, which has spilled over into pop culture. 

To that end, let’s get to know the background of this heated debate a little better before homecoming season.  

According to many, the illustrious Hampton University has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Black and white leaders of the American Missionary Association founded Hampton as Hampton Institute in 1868 after the American Civil War to educate freed slaves.

In contrast, Howard University was founded in 1867. The historically Black university derives its name from a Civil War hero, General Oliver Otis Howard, the university founder. And according to many, Howard is the most prestigious historically Black university in the country. 

Considering the institution’s founding date, Howard was “HU” before Hampton. Of course, the latter school became Hampton University much later in 1984. 

On the HBCU level, The Real HU football rivalry is Ohio State versus Michigan. The first meeting between Hampton and Howard was back in 1908, where the former defeated the latter 6 to 0. 

These institutions have since played nearly 100 matches against one another, even crossing over to popular music and literature, like when rapper Ludacris named-dropped Howard in his 2000s’ hit song Pimpin’ All Over The World:

“Then jump in the car and just ride for hours/ Makin’ sure I don’t miss the homecoming at Howard.”

“Now, before we get started, I just want to say, I’m excited the Battle of the Real H.U. will be taking place in Washington this year,” President Barack Obama said during his commencement address at Hampton in 2010. Of course, Obama was referring to the football game where these two historically Black universities compete against one another.

“You know I am not going to pick sides. But my understanding is it’s been 13 years since the Pirates lost. As one Hampton alum on my staff put it, the last time Howard beat Hampton, The Fugees were still together,” he continued. 

It is true. Hampton won 13 consecutive football meetings against Howard from 1997 to 2009. The school added another W to the column in the Fall of 2010 to make it 14 straight dubs against Howard before the former president threw shade at Howard while he delivered Hampton’s commencement address in May of that year. 

What is more, Howard went on to win the next four football meetings against Hampton from 2011 to 2014, and besides, Obama did precisely what he was supposed to do down the road. He delivered the commencement address at “The Mecca” Howard University in 2016. 

He also gave a commencement address to the graduating seniors at the historically Black all-males Morehouse College in Atlanta in 2013. 

Even Obama is indecisive here. 

But no matter who you believe is “The Real HU,” both of these private historically Black institutions are needed now more than ever. And thus, you have to respect Hampton’s and Howard’s, along with the other 99 HBCUs in the country, name because these institutions are the last cultural jewels that Black people have left in this country. 

That is on period.