Claflin University students and alumni came dressed to impress last Wednesday evening for this year’s student homecoming concert.
The lines began forming as early at 8 p.m., even though the doors for the concert featuring popular artist Megan The Stallion at Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Center weren’t set to open until 10 p.m. The concert at 10:30 p.m. followed a Panthers basketball game.
Kimberly Wright, a sophomore digital design major said, “Even though we had to wait in those long lines in cold for almost an hour before getting in, the concert was amazing. Megan even brought students on stage with her and it was just fun and exciting to watch and be involved.”
“This year’s homecoming was totally student driven. The new student administration … began working as soon as they got elected,” said Konist Davis-Johnson, Claflin student activities coordinator.
The students took this year’s homecoming right into their hands from the very beginning, Davis-Johnson said. The Student Activities Board sent out surveys asking students who they wanted for the concert as early as July.
That allowed Davis-Johnson and SAB President Raymond Johnson to secure the main artist Megan Thee Stallion early in the semester.
“I was elected in April and a lot of the students knew I was known for being lit and having fun, so I knew I had some big shoes to fill. Right after the elections, Megan Thee Stallion had a hit out called ‘Big Ole’ Freak.’ I knew by November, Meg would be huge and I knew if we could get her early, we could get her within budget,” Raymond Johnson said.
Aliyah Little, a sophomore psychology major said, “It was the best concert I’ve ever been to so far at Claflin. I feel like it was the artist last year. I wasn’t too fond of the artist. This year it felt like the students’ voices were heard. We voted for an artist we wanted and got her.”
But there were some concerns and pushbacks to having Meg Thee Stallion performing at Claflin.
“After the paperwork was together, there was a little pushback against the artist. But once the students said this is (the artist) they want, SAB President Raymond Johnson and SGA President Mathew Coverson-Springs went right into action,” Davis-Johnson said.
They pulled together surveys showing student opinions, Davis-Johnson said. The two presidents even collected Meg’s community service resume and her bio, noting she is a senior in college.
They brought the information to the Claflin administration, saying, “This is what the student body wants.” And they got her.
Mahogay Reed, a junior psychology major and business management minor, said, “My favorite part about the concert was the energy. Everybody had good vibes. It just felt like a big family. Everyone looked good and felt good. Meg was lit. She had good energy. She brought everybody to the stage. It was fun. I liked the concert it was great. I wouldn’t change anything.”
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The opening act for Meg Thee Stallion was one of Claflin’s own, B Rae, better known as Bethany Henderson. She is originally from Spartanburg and graduated from Claflin in 2014. She is known best for her song, “Gas Mask,” which was released in 2017 with World Star Hip Hop.
B Rae and Davis-Johnson spoke after a previous homecoming about her position and being an up-and-coming artist.
“I told her we were going to work together, so this year once we secured Megan Thee Stallion, I knew this would be nice,” Davis-Johnson said. “It’s been all male lineups before, so I thought let’s have a female lineup.”
After speaking with B Rae, Davis-Johnson was informed that B Rae and Megan actually did a show together in New York.
“When I called her, she was super excited to do it. She said this has been her dream to come back to Claflin and do a concert. It was just perfect,” Davis-Johnson said.
Tahje Priolea, a freshman mass communication major said, “As a freshman this was my first concert at a college homecoming and I loved everything. Despite the line being long, it was worth the wait.”
B Rae didn’t come back to her HBCU without strong intentions. She brought notebooks so young ladies could write down thoughts and aspirations. And she gave out free fans for the ladies to stay cool during the concert.
“She brought all that stuff and gave it away for free,” Davis-Johnson said. “She was giving back because she remembers when she was sitting in those seats and standing on the floors for concerts and her homecoming.”
“I truly have a great appreciation for her. I always love to take the time and work with our alumni, because if you can’t take care of home, how are you going to take care of someone else? I like to bring our own back and show them love and expose our students and show them what truly can happen,” Davis-Johnson said.
Overall students saw this year’s homecoming concert as a success. A total of 900 tickets were sold. Student tickets were sold for a week, five hours a day, until those tickets were gone.
“The first day of selling general admission, we sold out and made $7,200. And the next day, we sold and extra 300 tickets, which brought in another $2000-3000,” Raymond Johnson said.
With all the tickets being sold, the main concern for Claflin’s administration was safety.
Davis-Johnson made sure there was ample security and that was the main reason for selling a specific number of tickets.
“I want to make sure everyone can get in and everyone was safe. … My main thing was keeping all the students safe. We sat and detailed where every officer would be and set up a strict security plan,” Davis-Johnson said.
Raymond Johnson said, “Shout out to the students for supporting homecoming. It’s been a lot of student interaction and involvement this week so far and that means a lot to me. Homecoming wouldn’t be the same if the undergrad doesn’t enjoy it. I just love all the new things this school year brought. We saw things I’ve never thought Claflin would be able to do.
“… I got a real HBCU vibe from Claflin. I’m just really proud of my school and the growth and I can’t wait to come back in 10 years and still see the change -- and know that I was a part of it.”