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U-M, MSU Alums Come Together for Urban Tailgate

The annual event raises scholarship funds and allows Black alums to connect.
By Jeremy Carroll

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A large group of University of Michigan fans cheer
Alums at the Urban Tailgate cheer after U-M scores a touchdown against MSU. Photo by Jeremy Carroll

The first time the University of Michigan Black Alumni affiliate group and their counterparts from Michigan State University held their first Urban Tailgate, it wasn’t a big crowd.

“That first year, we had maybe 75-100 people, and that’s because those people just happened to be in the bar at the time,” says Lynn Burdell, MSW’77, laughing.

Burdell helped cofound the event with MSU’s Chuck Smith. The idea was simple: get the Black alumni groups from each university together to watch the U-M vs. MSU football game, raise money for scholarships, support Black-owned businesses, and help support the transition of students from high school to their universities.

“We love to hate each other, but it is a party,” Burdell says of the annual gathering. “That’s what keeps bringing people to the event. They know their dollars are going toward scholarship money and for a good party.”

The 25th Urban Tailgate took place Oct. 21 at the Corner Ballpark in Detroit, with more than 750 people in attendance to see the Wolverines beat the Spartans 49-0.

Burdell says that in addition to the party, the event allows alums from both universities to connect so they jointly support young Black students who want to attend either school.

“We want to support young people from the metropolitan Detroit area to continue their educations at local universities,” she says. “We want them to know that they are attainable, and we can help you get there.”

For more information on UMBA, visit www.umbagoblue.org.


Jeremy Carroll is the content strategist for the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.

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