There’s nothing like a sporting event between two HBCU’s.

There’s an electricity to it.
A palpable energy.
A feeling of exaltation.

And with that exaltation comes history. Tradition.
Grandfathers and grandmothers. Aunties and uncles. Chapters and brotherhoods.
Generations who came before you moving into focus.

The games get named, too, if they’re around long enough.
And those names can’t help but give you just a little thrill.
The Bayou Classic. The State Fair Classic. The Gold Bowl. The Magic City Classic.
And the Freedom Classic.

Now in its 24th year, the Freedom Classic is here to show you the best of HBCU sports and culture.
Are you ready?


Let’s start on the court, with a story as old as time.
The former kings, Virginia Union University, against the upstarts, Virginia State University.

For 30 years, VUU built one of the great college basketball dynasties—never mind the division—in America.

But State’s been slowly leveling the playing field over the last decade, while Union fell on hard times. Since 2008, State’s won five Classics to Union’s six. And as Union grinds its way back to relevancy, State’s regularly winning CIAA tournaments and running deep into the NCAA tournament.

Is Union all the way back? Or is State leaving them in the dust?

And this year, the women’s teams—both CIAA powerhouses—join the Freedom Classic for the first time.

In 2017, Union finished 2nd in the country as part of an incredible 4-year turnaround, but State also made the NCAA tournament last year with an at-large bid. Union’s won the last six meetings between these two, but the Lady Trojans are more dangerous than ever.

Is Union still the queen of the CIAA? Or is State coming for the crown?


Since 1837, HBCUs have provided African-Americans with a welcoming, nurturing environment to help them reach their full potential.

And since that year, alumni from each college have been popping off about what makes their school more special than the rest.

You might’ve heard about it from your grandpa or your auntie or your parents, but every school in the CIAA has traditions, pride, and history that other schools just can’t match.

The Freedom Classic—and the friendly-ish rivalry between neighbors Virginia State and Virginia Union—gives all that history, tradition, and pride a chance to come back to the forefront.


At an HBCU rivalry game, the fireworks start at half-time.

They start with high-stepping. And swaying. And a hammered-out drum cadence.
And that’s just the entrance.

Nothing beats HBCU bands.
They’ve been immortalized on television, in movies, and in songs.
And their performances rival the games themselves for highlight-reel moments and excitement.

At the Freedom Classic, the Trojan Explosion gets its own spotlight on Saturday afternoon, right before the start of the women’s game.

And get it straight: when the Trojan Explosion steps out for a show, the highlights will be every bit as intense as anything that happens on the court.


Now for the part of the Freedom Classic that doesn’t make the headlines or the highlight reels.

The Freedom Classic has always been more than just a game.
It’s given thousands of students the opportunity to learn from a small army of mentors.

The African-American community has always prided itself on its mentorship.
For hundreds of years, each generation has taken the next one by the hand and tried to lead it past the pitfalls.

Financial planning. Health and wellness issues. Finding the right career path.

And for the last two decades, the Freedom Classic has put young African-American students in touch with mentors who can help them plan a brighter future.

This year continues the tradition with groups like MEGA Mentors holding seminars on breaking into the STEM-ED (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math—Entrepreneurship and Design) professions, financial planning and management, educational opportunities, social causes, and a fine art sale to benefit underrepresented Chesterfield County students.

This year’s Freedom Classic’s mentorship programs are bound together by a common theme: “invest in your future.”

And as they always do, the mentors involved with the Festival are leading the way.


With two heated college basketball games and some incredible performances to cap off a week full of community leadership, this year’s Freedom Classic lives up to that classic HBCU rivalry feel. Experience it first-hand at the 2019 Freedom Classic Festival.