Matthew Pigatt, centered with microphone, addressed the crowd at last year’s South Florida HBCU picnic. He and Joshua Jones, far right, began the picnic after noting the need for a larger connecting space for HBCU grads in the community. Photo courtesy of south FLORIDA HBCU PICNIC COMMITTEE

Staff Report

Anyone who has attended a historically Black college and university (HBCU) will tell you it is a beautifully unique experience. alumni of hibiscus often hold a lifelong affinity for their Alma maters. They look forward to meeting up and connecting with others who share their sentiments.

Enter the 3rd annual south Florida HBCU Picnic, which will be held this Saturday, July 8 from 1 to 6 p.m. at rolling oaks Park, 18701 NW 17 court in Miami Gardens.

colleges and universities like Tuskegee university, spelman college, Florida a&m state university, Bethune cookman university, Morehouse college, and north Carolina a&t state university alumni are lined up with plenty of paraphernalia to represent their school.

The picnic is the brainchild of attorney Joshua Jones and commissioner matthew Pigatt, graduates of clark atlanta university and morehouse college, respectively.

They started it after attending their own schools’ individual picnics and noting a need to provide a larger platform for all HBCU grads in south Florida to connect and support one another.

“This is a big deal. We want to make sure that local HBCU grads know each other, support each other and love each other,” Jones said. “this is also an event where HBCU students can begin to cultivate relationships with not only each other, but all of the successful people in our community who attended or support HBCUS who can serve as mentors and employers for our students.”

This event is to showcase black educational excellence and highlight HBCU who have produced most of south Florida’s top (black) professionals,” Pigatt added.

Jones said over 350 people attended last year’s inaugural picnic representing over 30 schools. they received financial support from:

Tuskegee university, Spelman college, Howard university, morehouse college, coppin state, florida memorial university and southern university.

This year, Jones said they have confirmed financial support from those same institutions as well as Clark Atlanta and famu.

“the goal is to retain more of our local talent that for so long has left for opportunities in cities like Atlanta, Washington, Dc and new York. I know that as this event continues to grow that one day someone will approach us to inform us that a seven-figure business deal was brokered by a relationship (that) was made at the south Florida HBCU Picnic,” Jones said.

Jones said the community has rallied behind the event and they believe this year will boast the biggest turnout.

“The key difference between this year and last year’s event is that we have grown tremendously in both our expected attendance, but also in our community interest,” Jones said. “We have garnered a lot of support from organizations that support hBcus and we believe that based on the (expected) success of this year’s event we will be able to attract even more.” sponsors of the picnic include:

the academic hustle, the 100 Black men of South Florida, Josh Jones Law, P.a., hip rock star advertising, Jackson north medical center and the city of Miami Gardens all HBCUgraduates and current students are invited and encouraged to bring their kids, families, picnic baskets and lawn chairs.

for more information visit www.sfhbcupicnic.com.