The Grizzlies celebrate HBCUs and alumni in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – The Grizzlies got a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that’s not all Grizzlies fans were celebrating on Friday night!

The Beale Street Bears also celebrated historically black colleges and universities at FedExForum.

Grizzlies fans were completely impressed, and their high school seniors and their brothers and sisters joined them while attending the HBCU.

“You’re not a number,” said Sunya Payne, director of community engagement for Memphis-Shelby County Schools. “You’re a name. You’re relevant. It’s just a beautiful place to start, and just having that journey of being able to be a part of an HBCU is amazing.”

Sunya Payne is a proud graduate of LeMoyne-Owen College and a sister of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. He was honored by the Grizzlies for his work in the Memphis Shelby County Schools.

A $5,000 donation will be made in LeMoyne-Owen’s name.

“It’s really a blessing for the college and hopefully the money can be used for recruiting,” Payne said. “The funds can be used for student life. I’m very happy that I was chosen and I’m just grateful that it’s being honored in my name.”

The LeMoyne Owen College Choir also sang the national anthem at the game.

The University of Arkansas Pine Bluff and the Mid-South Marching Band put on a halftime show to remember.

Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones says he was happy to see UAPB and can’t wait to see what they do at this year’s Southern Heritage Classic.

“It’s a showcase not only for the school, but for Memphis, and I’m glad the Grizzlies let them join them and actually chose them to participate,” Jones said. “They had a good group. It’s a really good school and I think people are going to be surprised how things go for the Southern Heritage Classic this year.

Whether they attended Mid-South or elsewhere in the country, Grizzlies fans told Action News 5 they are proud of their HBCU graduates.

“I’m a FAMU graduate and I definitely wanted to be here for HBCU night and I actually went to the store to get my HBCU shirt,” Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University graduate Leslie Daniel said.

“Everybody’s at an HBCU,” said UAPB graduate Johnny Young.

The Grizzlies will honor HBCU alumni at their home games throughout the month of February.

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