Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The stars from ‘A Different World’ are going on a tour to support HBCUs. They want to raise money for scholarships and help more students join these colleges

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After 35 years, the folks from “A Different World” got together to visit Black colleges and help students with scholarships.

“A Different World” was a spin-off of “The Cosby Show.” It followed Denise Huxtable’s character at Hillman College, a made-up Black college in Virginia.

The “A Different World HBCU College Tour 2024” started at the Atlanta University Center. The cast visited Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and Morehouse College.

Tour members include Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, Dawnn Lewis, Glynn Turman, Cree Summer, Charnele Brown, and Darryl Bell.

Darryl Bell, who played Ron Johnson, set up the tour. He thinks visiting campuses is a way to keep the show’s memory alive and show new folks what HBCUs are all about.

“Every day, someone tells us they went to an HBCU because of ‘A Different World,'” Bell shared with CNN. He thinks it’s crucial for Black students to think about HBCUs because they offer a great education and a sense of family.

“HBCUs have given us amazing leaders, thinkers, and minds,” Bell said. At HBCUs, there’s a special personal connection and investment.

Famous people who went to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Kamala Harris, Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey, Thurgood Marshall, Samuel L. Jackson, and Booker T. Washington.

After the actors visited Spelman College, the college president, Helen Gayle, shared on social media that it was fitting for them to start their tour there. Several campus buildings were used in the TV show to represent the fictional Hillman College.

The show “A Different World” was known for addressing tough topics. During a Q&A session, students asked the cast about their experiences while filming. Kadeem Hardison, who played Dwayne Wayne, talked about a favorite episode that dealt with racial tensions. He emphasized the importance of listening and understanding different perspectives.

The impact of “A Different World” and the fictional Hillman College has influenced students to consider attending HBCUs. The creator of the show, Bell, mentioned that some people express a desire to apply to Hillman, not realizing it’s not a real college. He encourages them to consider other HBCUs like Hampton and Howard instead.

Enrollment at HBCUs went up by 26% from 1976 to 1994, as per the National Center for Education Statistics. However, they pointed out that almost all of this increase happened from 1986 to 1994.

The TV show “A Different World” was on air from 1987 to 1993.

In April, the tour will stop by Howard University, Alabama State University, and Tuskegee University. During the tour, students can join seminars on managing money, getting career advice, and making professional connections. The cast will also help with voter registration on campuses to encourage people to participate in the 2024 election.

Bell, talking to CNN, emphasized the importance of getting Black, Brown, and poor people registered to vote and making sure their voices are heard.

He mentioned that the tour got requests to visit some predominantly White colleges and universities too. “Even though they’re not HBCUs, some of the biggest schools have large African American and Hispanic communities that want to connect with us through our content,” he explained.

Up until now, the tour has collected $50,000 for scholarships and aims to raise $1 million by the end of the tour.

Bell emphasized that the tour’s main goal is to inspire upcoming generations to carry on the legacy of HBCUs, including fictional ones like Hillman College. “It’s about giving opportunities and creating paths to careers,” he said.

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