Howard University, also known as the Mecca of Black education, compared itself to the fictional African civilization of Wakanda last week.

Unfortunately, I disagree.

Unlike Howard, Wakanda only looks flawed from the outside.

In the last two months, Howard’s internal difficulties have peaked. In a year, Bison will be telling the incoming freshman about how we used to take classes in Douglass Hall, Annex 1 and Annex 2. The beauty of The Yard will be a myth as newcomers walk across it and see the pipes and trucks shielding a quarter of it. The old Howard, (arguably the great Howard) is disappearing before students’ very eyes.

Howard Students are generally complaining about the state of Howard. There’s no hot water or heat in some living spaces. Many buildings on campus are antiquated and desperately need renovations. Howard directly contrasts with Wakanda, which is portrayed as an alluring utopia of excellence.

Yet, I understand the comparison that Howard’s twitter account was attempting to make.

Howard is the number two HBCU. It produces the most black professionals and helps protect black culture. Howard connects Black people across the diaspora and unites us through this common experience. Howard, the Mecca, the Flagship, the Capstone maintains a renowned reputation around the world. In many ways, Howard is seen as a ‘Wakanda’ type of place. (Plus, the Black Panther himself attended Howard.)

Despite all its faults, Howard isn’t all bad. The students love it here. A large proportion of the distinguished faculty graduated from the University. People praise Howard for it’s standard of excellence. It was never the infrastructure that made Howard ‘the Mecca.’ The students and faculty sustain Howard’s reputation for being the best.  

For a lot of students, Howard is home. Maybe in a few years, with a few improvements, the next generation will have a Howard that combines Wakana’s aesthetics with the ambition and attitudes that continue to define Howard’s legacy.

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