When asked about what inspired the design of her New York Knicks x HBCU logo, Rachel Motley, a graduating senior at Howard University, answered, “I wanted this logo to show the ‘small details’ that we consider as part of the HBCU experience, actually make a huge difference in our college experience.”

Her logo did just that. Featuring a range of elements from a Kente cloth stole and a marching band helmet to a homecoming crown and a basketball, Motley’s logo represents the culture surrounding HBCUs as a whole. “I really wanted to incorporate aspects that I thought were very important… things that excite me the most about my Howard experience.”

Each detail that Rachel chose to incorporate seemed to capture the energetic spirit and close-knit camaraderie that she attests every Historically Black College and University campus exudes. Whether it’s a pageant for Mr. and Ms. Howard University or a halftime performance during a basketball game, the reason why culture is so infectious at HBCUs is because “people come out and support their friends.” 

When asking Rachel what’s been one of the biggest differentiators in her HBCU experience versus that of a friend’s at a non-HBCU, Motley said it’s the fact that something is going on at all times. “Whether it’s jazz on the yard during the springtime or Soul Food Thursdays, the culture at an HBCU is unmatched… I think being immersed in so many facets of Black culture reemphasizes the importance of that experience.”

This very immersion she speaks so highly of circles back to what Rachel personally sees as one of the most significant advantages of attending an HBCU: the network. “Whether it’s Howard or other HBCUs, as soon as [alumni] hear that you’re in an HBCU, there is an immediate connection… people are so willing to give HBCU students an opportunity that hasn’t always been seen before.”

HBCUs have provided Black students opportunities and connections that historically have come few and far between. But if you’re still on the fence about whether Historically Black Colleges and Universities sound right for you, Motley leaves you with this.

“People think that HBCUs are not diverse, but they are. To be Black is not a monolith… It’s a safe space. We have teachers and students that look like us, and it just provides us an opportunity to be able to learn and explore comfortably and unapologetically.” It’s evident that Rachel’s New York Knicks x HBCU logo unequivocally does just that.


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