There is nothing more D.C. than Howard Homecoming, and one of the biggest celebrations of Black greek life in the city is of course, its annual step show where members of Howard’s National Panhellenic Council show off their step choreography.
Burr Gymnasium was packed on Friday evening to watch two sororities and two fraternities compete. The program, hosted by Angela Simmons and King Flexxa, also included local high school steppers who were just there to showcase their talent, such as famous Theodore Roosevelt High School Step Team Dem Raider Boyz (who have been featured on the World of Dance show with J Lo and Ne-Yo.).
The night was full of nostalgia and excitement and not just from the pull of Greek life and the beauty of step. The theme, Channel 67: The Golden Era of TV, also had the crowd reminiscing of the old days as competing steppers choreographed their themes around our faves, such as Family Matters, Rugrats, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sister, Sister.
In the end however, only one sorority and one fraternity walked away with first place prizes of $2,500 from Chase Bank. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, who set their theme to Sister, Sister walked away with first place, while Alpha Phi Alpha snagged first place in fraternities for this year.
“I really liked the theme first and foremost,” Breonna Richardson, a senior broadcast journalism major who represented AKA in the step show told ESSENCE. “Just seeing how the show came together after we practiced so much from costumes to lights to music…it was an amazing experience”
Some of the students gave props to Chase Bank for being the only sponsor and presenter of the step show, noting that the show was well executed.
“[Chase] did a really godo job of putting the show together, having the high school talent , having them out here to showcase their talent as well,” Philip Jones, a junior finance major who represented Alpha Phi Alpha said. “I think the show was just a great performance, having the new additions that we haven’t had in the past [like] the wristbands (which lit up throughout the entire program).”
J.P. Morgan Chase Bank has been notably absent from the DMV region for years, but this summer the financial institute has made it a point to break ground in the region, starting with its newest branch which opened this month in McPherson Square.
The step show, according to Thasunda Duckett, Chase’s CEO of Consumer Banking, is the bank’s way of showing that it will show up for the community by supporting something that is quintessentially DC.
“If you think about it, Howard has been around since 1867 and so…when you think about DC you can’t not think about Howard as one of the elements in D.C., and just an example of the many prestigious universities that are there,” Duckett told ESSENCE. “It really ties to our strategy about being a part of the community – the entire community – understanding what makes D.C., D.C. and just the impact that Howard Homecoming brings, not just for the students and the alumni and the faculty but the broader community benefits when you have homecoming at the scale of Howard.”
“I think other element of us being excited about Howard Homecoming and being a part of the step show is it really is an example of our passion around students and how we want students to become financially healthy,” she added. “We want students to know that Chase’s mission is to help them make the most of their money so that they can make the most of their lives.”
And of course, in general, Duckett, as a Delta, has special ties to and a soft spot for black Greek life and stepping.
” It’s a really good way for Chase to get involved with the campus,” Jonathan Willard, a medical student told ESSENCE. “Early this semester I met with some representatives from Chase with other student leaders and Greek members and overall they just talked about a lot of internships that they offer and how they really want to get involved with the HBCU community and I think this a great way to start that off.”
But more importantly, the energy was pumping as people in the crowd screamed their approval, and several members of the frats and sororities yelled out their various, distinct calls to one another.
“I think everybody had a lot of energy. I think the crowd was very hype,” Denijah Miller, a senior biology major who represented the AKAs told ESSENCE. “I think the lights and everything were perfect. It really got us amped up.”