Why HBCUs?: Part 1

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 at 12:03 pm

This past winter Governor Barbour ruffled feathers by saying he supported a consolidation of the state’s four historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). While reading many message boards and opinion pieces, the overwhelming question was: What’s the need for such schools? And quickly many point to the advances we have made as a society, for instance, the election of Barack Obama as President. Additionally, others said that the existence of HBCUs only perpetuated segregation.

In February journalist Billy Maxwell considered HBCUs are “essential to the success of African-Americans since 1837.” In 2009 the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported that HBCUs have a 42 percent graduation rate. So again, why are HBCUs important? The answer may not be found in graduation statistics alone. For many who attend these schools, they are working on second and third chances before life can truly start. Yes, we would like to see an improved graduation rate, but for many, being accepted into college is success in its own right.

This point had not been so crystallized until I watched an episode of Judge Hatchett. A trouble minority teen was brought to court by his mother. He had dropped out of school and was content with living a life on the streets. I am convinced that we all have unique talents, and one of this young man’s talents was the gift of music. Judget Hatchett sent him to a band camp at Clark-Atlanta University. Here, the young man found mentorship and the ability to learn something about himself: that there’s more to life than a life on the streets. And so, he learned what it was truly like to be considered part of a family, striving positively toward the American Dream. This young man has walked through the door and Clark-Atlanta has agreed to be the welcoming institution.

  1. After reading your blog, it got me thinking. I graduated from a HBCU in Geaorgia. Like a year or two after I graduated, it was mentioned to combined the university with the non HBCU(predominately white) university because of financial reasons. Personally, I think it was for other reasons. The HBCU is one of the four colleges in the city. Since then, I have not heard anything else about the issue.

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