Barbershop Talk: Men discuss college support, Black History Month

Barbershop Talk 2

Barbershops have served as a sanctuary for Black people for decades, especially during times of turmoil.

They’re spaces where men can go for a haircut, sure, they’re also one of the few public places where Black men can express their vulnerability and discuss what’s happening in their lives and beyond.

At many, haircuts go hand-in-hand with games like chess, cards or dominoes.

At eTags Barbershop on Greensboro Avenue in Tuscaloosa, WVUA 23’s Jabaree Prewitt asked Black men their thoughts on a number of issues surrounding the Black community.

In Part 1, those questions concerned police brutality and the role of church in the community.

Now, the conversation continues.

Are Historically Black Colleges and Universities getting enough alumni support?

Tuscaloosa has not one but two HBCUs, with Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. But are Stillman graduates ensuring the college can continue with its mission?

“There are a lot of graduates from Stillman,” said Johnny Redding. “Stillman shouldn’t have to ask (They shouldn’t have to) call on the phone.”

Quin Kelly Jr. said he doesn’t agree. Stillman should be asking for support because if it’s out of sight it’s out of mind.

“People want to be asked for some odd reason,” Tyler Davidson said. “They went to Stillman. They graduated from Stillman but they want Stillman to beg them for funds.”

But why the lack of support? The men have their theories, and most of them are related to football. Or rather, the lack thereof.

“We have the backlash because there’s no football,” David Murphy said. “They did this to me back in 1979 and they did this to me in the early 2000s.”

When Murphy attended Stillman, he was there for football.

“I was on that first team,” he said. “(Stillman) had not had a football team in 49 years. That’s the first time I’d seen so many Black people — men, women, boys and girls come and support us. It was amazing.”

When the football team was practicing, Murphy said fans would line up their cars next to the fence and watch practice.

“You can’t operate from a fundraising perspective,” Kelly said. “A lot of it is support.”

On the fallout over the Black History Month program at Hillcrest High School:

On Wednesday, Hillcrest High School students capped off a tumultuous month with a student-led Black History Month program focused on the entirety of Black history, not only events post 1970.

After students said they’d been told they couldn’t include major historical events like slavery and the civil rights movement in the program, they went to local civil rights leaders. The incident got national attention. School and system administration denied students were told to limit their program, and although students say things are far from over, the program happened without issue.

Black history is American history, Quinton German said, and it shouldn’t be hidden away or whitewashed.

“I think sometimes, we as a people in the community are fighting more for others to accept us than for us to accept us,” said Eddie T. Murphy. “For so many years we have been given Black history and now we’ve found out half the information they gave us wasn’t even true. I know they’re not going to give the whole matter of the situation. Why would I trust them?”

Kevin Shobe said Black history is a lot more expansive than you can cover in a single month.

“When you say something as ignorant as ‘you can’t talk about Black history,’ let’s not talk about American history and see how far that will go,” Kelly said. “I think Hillcrest is a great school academically. I think socially, that’s where we come in as a community to hold our institutions accountable.”

Special thanks to all the men who were part of the Barbershop Talk at E-Tags Barbershop Tuesday, Feb. 7.

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