Homecoming Through The Years at JCSU
It's unclear when the first Homecoming football game was played at Biddle University/Johnson C. Smith University. The first Biddle University team was organized in 1890, when a group of interested men on campus organized a team led by captain L.B. Ellerson. Two years later football became the first major sport at Biddle, and nearby Livingstone College and their own newly formed team was challenged to a game. In what would become an historic day, December 27, 1892, the two teams played the first football contest between two black colleges, which Biddle won 5-0. The football program was banned at Biddle soon after, because it was deemed too rough of a sport. In 1911, the students petitioned faculty to lift the ban, and in 1912 football returned to campus. The team became known as the Golden Bulls from 1916 onward, and that year they not only finished the season undefeated, but didn’t allow any teams to score on them.
In 1928 the first issue of The Bull, the JCSU yearbook, featured Miss Valinda Wagner as sponsor of the Smith-Virginia State football game that year. In the 1930 issue three sponsors for three separate sports were listed: Miss Vivienne Scott for football, Miss Dorothy Fletcher for basketball, and Miss Elnora Owens for baseball. It is unclear who these women were because until 1932 JCSU did not allow women to attend, but it is likely that they were students at Smith's parallel school for women at the time, Barber-Scotia College in Concord. The title of "sponsor" was used until it became "Miss Smith," which was eventually replaced by "Miss Johnson C. Smith Homecoming Queen" and bestowed on one lucky lady each year before the annual Homecoming football game. Under the new title, the Queen ruled over all student activities until the coronation of her successor the following year, and her float was the focal point of the annual Homecoming Parade. This exhibit will show the history of Johnson C. Smith's Homecoming football games and the pageantry that accompanied them: queens and their courts, the Homecoming Parade and its variety of floats, and the evolution of Smith's beautiful and talented women as they represented their school in changing times.