Did you want to go to an HBCU, but never got the chance? With the help of Hillman Bookstore, you can rep Hillman College: a prestigious, but fictitious, HBCU made popular by A Different World, a NBC sitcom that started in the late ‘80s.
Hillman Bookstore, founded in 2010, is the self-funded brainchild of Winston Robinson, an HBCU graduate (Winston-Salem State University) who felt his story and favorite sitcom was being left out of mainstream America’s pop culture history book. In March 2010, he visited NBC headquarters to see the home base of some of his favorite shows. After the tour, he was directed to a gift shop that took him down memory lane, with merchandise from shows like Saved By The Bell and Knight Rider. Seeing these prompted him to look for items from two shows that helped him select his college and shape his future – The Cosby Show and A Different World.
“I could not find any merchandise, so I asked an employee for help finding these items, and he reacted with a very cynical scowl before telling me- ‘We don’t carry that stuff.'” according to Hillman Bookstore.com. “I was beyond pissed, and decided to do something because I feel like ‘we’ matter, and deserve to be represented.
“It’s bigger than just a TV show.”
For many Americans, A Different World and Hillman College were their first look at life inside an HBCU. Although it began as a spin-off of The Cosby Show, A Different World developed its own identity through the colorful student body at Hillman College. The fraternities/sororities, insightful conversations, style of dress, parties and diversity amongst what some think is a monolithic group inspired a generation of students to apply and later on attend an HBCU.
“I didn’t come from a long line of HBCU graduates in my family that influenced me to go to one,” Robinson said. “The show and cast were a huge deciding factor in me enrolling at an HBCU.”
For those who attended Predominately White Institutions, A Different World was a place they escaped to for 30 minutes each Thursday. Hillman College became America’s HBCU and with ratings peaking at 22.15 million viewers in its first season, we were all alumni of the prestigious college that Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable’s child, Denise, attended.
Hillman College shirts and sweatshirts come in men’s and women’s sizes and you can also grab the classic Gordon Gartrell shirt that Theo Huxtable wanted so bad that he had his sister, Denise, sew him a knockoff that looked like this. Or you can grab a Whitty Hutton Wuld Toor shirt that Bruh Man tried to bootleg on Martin.
Whatever Hillman Bookstore shirt you decide to wear, be prepared for folks to trip as you take them on a trip down memory lane with your piece of television nostalgia.
For extra style points, pair it with a pair of Dwayne Wayne flip-up glasses and sit on a chair backwards. Thank me later.