Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are the backbones of higher education for African American students. Today, many African Americans get their higher education degrees from HBCUs. Many black students graduated from HBCUs and went onto becoming experts in their field of study. Many celebrities are part of the HBCU alums. Notable among the HBCU graduates are the Nobel prize winner, Toni Morrison, Oscar-winning actor Samuel L Jackson, famous American talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Vice-President Kamala Harris, and many more. In the modern-day, HBCU’s offer a wide variety of higher education programs – undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees including masters and doctoral programs, online degrees, specializations, etc. HBCUs are part of the great American story of resistance to segregation, and students will gain a lot by understanding all about HBCUs. In this section, we will dig deep into the historically black colleges.
What are HBCUs
According to the Higher Education Act of 1965, defines HBCUs as – “…any historically black college or university that was established before 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans…”. In today’s world, the phrase ‘Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ represents a great pride story for the African American community and a community’s resilience denied higher education opportunities. These great institutions serve Americans of all races today. Many non-black students apply for HBCUs each year; many successfully enroll and graduate.
History of HBCUs
At the end of the US Civil War, slavery was officially abolished in the US, but racial segregation did not end. Segregation continued in education, where almost all African Americans were not allowed to pursue higher education. This resulted in the establishment of educational institutions, mainly in the south. Religious organizations assisted these educational institutions, known as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The first HBCU was established in 1837. The period after the end of the civil war saw many HBCUs being established. Many African Americans enrolled in these institutions and got their higher education. Today there are several HBCUs – a total of 101.
Importance of HBCUs
The HBCUs had historically provided educational opportunities for African Americans when others did not. They represent black people’s education and the upliftment of the historically oppressed and underrepresented community in the US. HBCUs bridge the gap in academic achievement that exists in the modern era and HBCUs are an integral part of black higher education experience in the US. Apart from historical, cultural, and other reasons, HBCUs also meet students’ needs from low-income and first-generation college students. Tuition rates at HBCUs are affordable compared to other universities, along with providing a best-value education.
Future of HBCUs
The future of HBCUs is bright, with a noticeable increase in the overall enrollment numbers. Many HBCUs like the Delaware State University, Florida Memorial University, Shaw University, Virginia State University, South Carolina State University, etc., are seeing a double-digit increase in enrollment. HBCUs have become a cultural fabric of the African American narrative, and they demonstrate the success of a community that did not have a head start as others. In the modern era, many HBCUs see increased interest from diverse students, not just black students. This proves that HBCUs’ future is bright, and they continue to teach us about our history and continue to produce students that will compete on a global scale.