Arts and Entertainment
|NC A&T graduate pens children's book on HBCU pageantry|
|'Homecoming' showcases college life|
|Published Thursday, May 16, 2019 12:10 am|
|COURTESY LA-DONIA JEFFERIES|
|North Carolina A&T State University graduate La-Donia Jefferies, center, wrote “Homecoming” to expose children to the pageantry of historically black colleges.|
There is nothing like an HBCU homecoming.
First-time author La-Donia Jefferies’ book “Homecoming” illustrates how North Carolina A&T State University’s homecoming experience shaped her childhood and eventually her life, as well as the role she hopes it will play in exposing children to college.
“It has just been an experience that I wanted other children to have and feel—to have that conversation about college at a very early age,” Jefferies said. “I knew at a very early age that I wanted to go to an HBCU, and that’s because I knew what an HBCU was. Not all children have been exposed to that acronym. I wanted to create a book to have that conversation with young children early on to talk about college, and what that could look like for them.”
Jeffries’ HBCU ties are strong. Her mother, Sylvia Bembry Alford, taught at Winston-Salem State University and A&T, but Aggie Pride reigns supreme in their family as her father, Eli Alford Jr. attended A&T.
“As early on as age 2-3, I went to the Early Childhood Development Lab, which is on A&T’s campus, which is a preschool program, while my mom was working there,” Jefferies said. “I was in the parade at homecoming. I knew what homecoming was.”
The experience came full circle for Jefferies when she started her own family.
“My husband [Michael Jeffries] and I met in college, and dated all throughout college at A&T, and got married after grad school,” she said. “We had these two beautiful girls [Eleanor and Emerson], and every year, we take them to homecoming.”
The book follows the homecoming experience, starting with what it feels like to set foot on a college campus for the first time. It follows their experience at the football game, highlighting a halftime favorite—the marching band’s performance, featuring a female drum major.
“The halftime show is almost like its own game in itself,” Jefferies said. “I thought it was important to show a strong female lead, and encourage girls and women to take the lead and be leaders.”
Another homecoming staple is tailgating.
“After they’ve eaten, they’ve enjoyed the game, they walk around campus,” Jefferies said. “They see these historical figures—[astronaut] Ronald E. McNair and the A&T Four” who launched the sit-in movement in 1960.
Jefferies also highlights the career paths of the children’s parents in the book.
“It says, ‘there is a statue of an African American astronaut in front of the building where Mommy took classes to become an engineer,’” said Jefferies, reading an excerpt from the book. “‘We see a bulldog statue by the building where Daddy took classes to start his veterinary business career.’ I put that in the book because I wanted to encourage kids to have STEM careers. It’s important for kids to learn about science, love science and be in the STEM field. We talk about the A&T Four, saying, ‘we love seeing the statue of the A&T Four. Those brave students helped to change the world’—even if they didn’t know the story of the Greensboro Four, I wanted to start that conversation.’”
Jefferies also notes the significance of Greek life on HBCU culture. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; her husband is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
“We wanted to show Greek life and Greek unity in the book,” Jefferies said. “We have that subtly mentioned in there for copyright angles.”
Jefferies intends to use the book as a catalyst for a series.
“We want this to be a series to continue to introduce children to the concepts and ideas of college,” she said.
For more information: https://thehbcuhomecomingbook.com/
|Wonderful way to expose our children to HBCUs.|
|Posted on May 16, 2019|
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