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Angel City Classic set to shake up Los Angeles

Shirley Hawkins | 9/17/2008, 5 p.m.

Get ready, Los Angeles-the Farmer's Insurance Angel City Classic (ACC) is coming straight to the Los Angeles Coliseum Sept. 27th for the third straight year and it promises to be bigger and better than ever.

The Classic, expected to be the largest gathering of African Americans for a sporting event in the country, will feature two of the mightiest historically black colleges and university football teams ever to step foot on a gridiron-the Morehouse College Tigers and Prairie View A&M Panthers.
It will be the clash of the titans as both historic schools gear up to go head to head in a spectacular game that will no doubt keep the crowd enthralled and roaring for more.
"This year, we're expecting a crowd upwards of 70,000," said Mark Moore, spokesperson for the Classic. "People are already excited. We've been getting calls from people in Vegas, Atlanta, Texas and northern California who are looking forward to attending and cheering on their favorite team. The Classic is unique because it is the only chance that people on the West Coast will get to experience the black college experience."
Half time will feature the spectacular drum line and the battle of the bands featuring Morehouse's Band of Funk and Prairie View A&M's band Marching Storm. It will be an event to remember as each school delivers riveting performances before thousands of cheering fans.
Actor, writer and producer Nick Cannon of "Drumline" fame has signed on as this year's master of ceremonies. Cannon, along with his "Stop Hating" movement, has joined the fight for education by partnering with the producers of the annual event.
"With times of war, disrespectful media content, school violence, inner-city struggles, and the never ending battle of prejudices, we know our youth are faced with hate on a day-to-day basis. Our goal is to erase all negativity in the minds and hearts of our communities with our "Stop Hating" movement," Cannon said on the ACC website. The actor will distribute to the crowd T-shirts and bracelets with the movement's name. Also in the works is a moving tribute to music icon Isaac Hayes, who died of a stroke in August and was scheduled to perform during the ACC's Concord Stax Fifth Quarter Concert immediately following the Classic.
Hayes electrified the crowd with his breakout performance over 35 years ago at the arena during Wattstax during a turbulent period in this country's history.
According to organizers, a video montage of Hayes' incredible life and musical achievements will be featured on the giant jumbotron in the stadium. Performers Angie Stone, Lalah Hathaway, and Anthony Hamilton will pay tribute to Hayes during the concert scheduled during the Stax Fifth Quarter Concert.
"It is a significant loss because Isaac Hayes impacted so many individuals across the nation and the world," said Fleming III. "It's unfortunate that we lost one of our geniuses, but we know that his spirit is going to be there."
And what an experience it will be-the day-long pomp and pageantry of festivities will of course include a battle of the bands, a drum line exhibition and a step show featuring local fraternities and sororities.
Starting at 9 a.m., a high school band clinic featuring Prairie View A&M's band's Marching Storm, Morehouse's Band of Funk and USC's band Sound of Troy will be hosted by the University of Southern California followed at 10 a.m. by a youth football game. The drumline exhibition and step show kicks off at noon followed by the football game and battle of the bands at 2 p.m.
And this year, one lucky attendee who registered online at Angelcityclassic.com will get the thrill of a lifetime when organizers raffle off a brand new 2008 BMW.
There will definitely be pomp, pageantry and excitement on the field, but for ACC chief executive officer John Fleming, and his son, COO John Fleming III, a yearly highlight of the ACC is the college fair, which exposes African American youth to 104 historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) across the country. A number of schools representing the HBCU's will be on hand to distribute information to youth and their families.
"We look at these schools as ambassadors for the 104 HBCU's across the nation," said Fleming III. "There will be representatives at the event from several schools, primarily from Morehouse and Prairie View."
Fleming III said he felt it was imperative for black youth on the West Coast to receive exposure to educational institutions such as the HBCU's, which provide viable alternatives to local schools in the area such as the University of Southern California or the University of California at Los Angeles.
"There's a 50 percent drop out rate among our youth, so it's a pretty obvious premise that our school systems are not keeping the kids in school," said Fleming III. "If that is not a threatening alarm to our community, I don't know what is."
Fleming said that the excitement of two historically African American colleges clashing head to head in what promises to be a spectacular football event will only be matched by the pride of exposing African American youth to the magnificent HBCU'S across the country.
"We just want to show our youths the other educational opportunities that are available," said Fleming III. "We're trying to impact, motivate and inspire our youth to understand the importance of an education and to urge them to stay in school."
Farmers Angel City Classic
Black college football and battle of the bands
By John T. Fleming
CEO of Black Educational Events, LLC)
Morehouse College and Prairie View A&M University will battle for bragging rights at the Farmers Insurance Group Angel City Classic at the L.A. Coliseum on September 27th! Both schools are off to a good start with Morehouse having won two of their first three games of the season and Prairie View having won two as well. In the wake of Hurricane Ike, their third game was canceled.
Having defeated the winners of the Southwestern Athletic Conference last year in their regulation game, The Prairie View Panthers appear determined to prove that they are the real SWAC Champions this year.
Black Educational Events, LLC has brought to Southern California the black college Classic event that started many years ago in the south. These spectacles actually date back to 1924 when Alabama State College and Tuskegee Institute first met in the Turkey Day Classic in Montgomery, Alabama.
Today, Black College Football Classic Games are an integral part of the fall athletic environment at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in many cities across the nation and the Southland is proud to host what many predict will become the largest classic of it's kind in the country!
Classic Games generally fall into three categories. First you have traditional rivalries that have grown so large that school stadiums can no longer accommodate the number of people planning to attend the event. The same schools play each year, and bragging rights are on the line for the next twelve months. Perhaps the most celebrated of all of the classics for many, many, years has been the famed Bayou Classic traditionally held in New Orleans between Grambling University and Southern University.
Others, however, have become very large in attendance and very popular as well. They include North Carolina Central vs. North Carolina A&T (Aggie-Eagle Classic), Norfolk State vs. Virginia State (Labor Day Classic), Jackson State vs. Tennessee State (Southern Heritage Classic), Benedict vs. South Carolina State (Palmetto Capital City Classic), Alabama State vs. Alabama A&M (Magic City Classic), Jackson State vs. Alcorn State (Capital City Classic), and Fort Valley State vs. Albany State (Fountain City Classic), to name a few.
The second category of Classic Games features a host school playing a different opponent each year. These games are usually held off-campus in large venues and carry all the pageantry associated with big time football. Often ancillary activities are scheduled, focusing on the benefits associated with being in the city with the large stadium. Bethune-Cookman plays in the Gateway Classic in Jacksonville, Florida. Alabama State always schedules a game in Mobile, Alabama known as the Gulf Coast Classic. Virginia Union's Gold Bowl is always a big event in Richmond, as is the Fish Bowl where Shriners from throughout the east coast gather in Tidewater Virginia to witness a game hosted by Norfolk State.
The third category includes events that have an identity of their own where different teams are invited each year. Grambling State and Morgan State met in Yankee Stadium in 1968 before 64,000 fans. Now, the New York Urban League sponsors an annual Classic Game at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Long before the NFL Colts moved to Indianapolis, the Indiana Black Expo convinced the local sports commission to partner in the sponsorship of a Black College Classic game. Now, the first week in October culminates with the Circle City Classic, which has featured a variety of match-ups over the past 20 years. The Circle City Classic has become a Midwest homecoming for fans that seldom get to experience a black college football game.
The Turkey Day Classic celebrated its 80th Anniversary during the 2003 football season. What is most significant about all these classics is that they have been in existence for up to 30 years. In just three years, the Farmers Angel City Classic has become among the top five in the nation in terms of attendance and is on course to becoming the largest!
The only event of its kind for Angelenos, the Morehouse Tigers and Prairie View Panthers will also showcase some local talent that selected these choice institutions for their secondary education and sports. Sinclair Ridley-Thomas, son of State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas is a running back for the Morehouse Tigers. His twin brother, Sebastian, is the Senior Class President of their graduating class of 2009. Another elected official, L.A. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, currently has a grandson in his third year at Morehouse.
Other California high school athletes now playing for Morehouse are Christian Green, Tristan Taylor, Anthony Haynes and Troy Shine of Los Angeles; Jamal James of Paramount; and Eric Archer of Placentia. Prairie View students include Jermaine Bluford of Compton, Leighland Koonce from San Diego, Brandon Bell of Deerfield Beach, Joshua Mack of Visalia, Jerome Tarver of Oakland, and DeShaun Wilkens of Stockton.
The Angel City Classic is also about the black college experience. They provide all the excitement of a post-season bowl game. The half time Battle of the Bands is designed to entertain all regardless of the score of the game. A Youth Football Game is also a part of the festivities as well as a High School Band and Drumline showcase. The day starts with tailgating parties before, during, and after the game. And then there is the fifth quarter, and Angel City Classic producers in conjunction with Concord Stax Records are providing Classic attendees with a concert which is planned to be a tribute to Isaac Hayes.
As African Americans, we remain proud of the fact that our Historically Black Colleges and Universities, not only provided us with an education when other institutions would not, these institutions also provided African Americans with athletic skills the opportunity to compete in organized sports and go on to break the barriers of professional sports. The results have produced many outstanding NFL players such as former Titans Quarterback Steve McNair (Alcorn State), Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) and New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan (Texas Southern), and several African Americans in the NFL Hall of Fame. Sixteen members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame played at historically black colleges. In 1975, five players from historically black colleges were selected in the first round of the NFL draft, including the late Walter Payton (Jackson State), not to mention those in the baseball Hall of Fame and the NBA Hall of Fame.
Sports fans, this is about more than just a game. It's about culture. It's about education. It's about you. Don't miss it!