The hit sitcom “A Different World” heavily influenced young Black America in the 1980s, and recently the cast returned to present an HBCU with a $100,000 check.
Car manufacturer Ford’s Ultimate Homecoming Takeover initiative teamed up with the actors to present HBCU Southwestern Christian College with the large donation last month. Ford’s Homecoming day party for the 125-student Terrell, Texas, school started with Ford’s Multicultural Communications Manager Dee Guerrero, and the show’s cast members, presenting the scholarship to SWCC Chairman of the Board Dr. John Dansby.
The show’s starring characters of Cree Summer, Jasmine Guy, Darryl Bell and Kadeem Hardison had a discussion with the students about the impact of the show.
Guy spoke to Ebony magazine a bit about the show showing a spectrum of diversity within the Black community. “We had different classes, different colorings, different backgrounds, different aspirations and that’s one thing I loved about ‘A Different World.’ It showed the true spirit about what being Black is, and that it is diverse within itself.”
Bell told the magazine that the show brought up pressing topics in the community that kept the show relevant. “What was also great was that you saw different generations! From the youngsters like Bumper Robinson [and] Patrick Malone, all the way to Glynn Turman, and Lou Myers, who played Mr. Gaines, there was always a different point of view. So no matter what topic was discussed, it wasn’t a monolithic response; it was something that was always challenging and relevant, it was important and we managed to be funny while we did it! That’s why I think it lasted so long and stayed evergreen.”
The sitcom, which ran from 1987 through 1993, remains a Black cultural touchstone. The Freeform hit show “Grown-ish” paid tribute to the show in a remake of the theme song for the season 2 teaser.