Jalal McKie embraces the historical significance of being accepted to his great-grandmother’s HBCU alma mater.
On a beautiful sunny day in Atlanta, Georgia, Jalal McKie is one of five high school student-athletes who arrived in celebrity style to the National Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Elite 100 Signing Day hosted by HBCU Elite 100 and The Athlete’s Foot. The star athletes were arriving to formally announce their commitment to sports scholarship to the HBCU of their choice and potentially change the trajectory of their lives. Walking into the doors of The Athlete’s Foot store, an overwhelming feeling of pride and aroma of fresh new clothing ignite the air with new energy. As the families, supporters, and community fill the room, it is easy to detect the rich historical generational passage that is about to take place.
The power of McKie’s humble charisma, strong family ties and unwavering HBCU pride illuminated the atmosphere during his first interview of the day. The emotion coming from his teary eyed HBCU alumni parents gave the sense that something larger was happening as the audience hung on to every word. His acceptance to North Carolina A&T University is what Oprah Winfrey would call a “Full Circle Moment” that Jalal embraces passionately.
His posture, demeanor and eloquent style give strong signals that he understands the assignment and is ready and willing to complete the task. His acceptance to North Carolina A&T would have him attending the same HBCU that his great grandmother Evelyn Clegg (Bruton) attended. His grandmother Blanche B. Mills attended Winston Salem State College, his father Robert McKie attended Virginia Union University, his mother La Tarsha Mills McKie attended Tuskegee University and his brother Amir Mills, who he admires, attended Stillman College for his bachelor’s degree and FAMU for Dr. of Pharmacy. These family members who have gone before him are for Jamal his most driving motivational forces.
McKie attributes his steadfast focus on continuing the historical HBCU family tradition to his parents, grandmother and his great-grandmother, the impact of HBCU support that he has become accustomed to and his brother’s loving and strong influence. Jalal says, “My big brother Amir has been most influential in my decision to attend an HBCU. Amir modeled what it was to be a student-athlete. He was awarded an academic and football scholarship to Stillman College. While there he had several leadership roles and pledged Omega Psi Phi fraternity.”
McKie states, “The same spirit of excellence was exemplified at FAMU while attaining a doctorate degree in Pharmacy. My brother was the Homecoming King and leader in the school community at large. His line brothers and college friends are a part of our family too. My front row seat, watching Amir’s development as a responsible God-fearing man of character greatly impacted me.”
McKie says, “Since birth, I’ve watched and admired my brother’s fraternity brothers and my mom’s sorority sisters love, support and build each other up. I’ve been blessed to see and feel the influence of HBCU’s throughout my life.”
Jalal McKie feels like HBCUs are a magical place. He’s on his way to Great-Grandmother Evelyn’s Alma mater, North Carolina A&T, honored and looking forward to experiencing the sense of pride that comes with attending an HBCU!
By Marie-Antoinette Tichler