- HBCUs, or historically black colleges or universities, were created during segregation to provide black students with access to higher education.
- The number of HBCUs in the US has fluctuated due to financial and accreditation issues.
- Experts say that even though schools are now merging, HBCUs are still much needed because of the visibility, culture, and sense of pride they bring to black students.
Some black students dream of joining them, following in the footsteps of sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and pioneers whose names have gone down in history.
These are HBCUs — historically black colleges or universities — and there are more than 100 in the US, said Leslie Jones, founder and director of The Hundred-Seven, an organization that promotes higher education for black students and was named after the number of HBCUs in the country at the time. time.
Jones, who attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., defines HBCU the same way the Department of Education does, based on when the schools were founded.
“(It’s) 1964 or earlier,” she told USA TODAY. “They were founded for the purpose of educating either former slaves or their descendants.”
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When were HBCUs first created and why?
The earliest HBCUs were founded in Pennsylvania and Ohio prior to the American Civil War. According to Jones, one of them, the Colored Youth Institute, opened in 1837 on a farm in Philadelphia. Today it is called the Cheney University of Pennsylvania.
One of the first HBCUs is also believed to be the Ashmun Institute, which was founded in Pennsylvania in 1854 and became Lincoln University in 1866, according to Jones.
According to her, many HBCUs were founded in response to segregation and slavery.
At one point there were hundreds of HBCUs, but some have struggled to keep their doors open or merged with other schools, said Carlos Holmes, news director and university historian at the University of Delaware.
Where are HBCUs located?
HBCUs are primarily concentrated in the southeast and mid-Atlantic, with some located as far north as Ohio and Pennsylvania, and as far west as Texas and Oklahoma.
What are the best HBCUs?
According to US News & World Report, the top three HBCUs are Spelman College, Howard University, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
US News & World Report uses factors such as graduation rates and retention rates, social mobility, and alumni debt to score each HBCU.
Spelman: Based in Atlanta, Spelman is the oldest historically black college for women in America, according to the ranking site. The private college has 2097 students.
Howard: According to the school’s website, Howard has over 11,000 students in Washington, D.C. and is known for producing large numbers of black doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and engineers in the country.
Xavier Louisiana University: Xavier University Louisiana, located in the heart of New Orleans, has over 3,300 students and is recognized as a leading university in the sciences and humanities. According to the university, one of the advantages of the university is the large number of students who graduated from medical school: 95.5% of Black Xavier graduates in 2013.
Here are the top 10 in full:
- #1 – Spelman College
- No. 2 – Howard University
- No. 3 – Xavier Louisiana University
- No. 4 (tie) – Hampton University, Morehouse College and Tuskegee University
- No. 7 – Florida A&M University
- No. 8 – North Carolina State Agricultural and Technical University.
- No. 9 – Fisk University
- No. 10 (tie) – Claflin University and Delaware State University.
What affordable HBCU students might consider, and what about the lesser known schools?
Jones said some HBCUs are pretty inexpensive to attend if you look outside of private schools like Howard and Morehouse. Even Howard’s is cheaper than other Washington schools like Georgetown or American University, she says.
“In your mind, Howard could be the college of your dreams,” Jones said. “You get to, you might not be able to afford Howard… That doesn’t mean you can’t go to Dillard and be hugely successful. That doesn’t mean you can’t go to Alabama instead and be able to afford it and still get an outstanding education.”
Some schools, like Elizabeth City State University and Fayetteville State University, cost about $5,000 a year depending on whether you’re in or out of state, she said.
However, affordability is relative and encourages people to do more research.
According to US News & World Report, some other less expensive schools include:
- Mississippi Valley State University ($6746+)
- Alcorn State University ($7,596+)
- Southwest Christian College ($8,132+)
- Jackson State University ($8,445+)
- Rust College ($9900+)
- Texas College ($10,000+)
Other schools that students may not know about include Clinton College in South Carolina and Coppin State University in Baltimore, Jones said.
For many HBCUs, the fight is “just for survival”
Jones said that of the HBCUs listed by the Department of Education, two are closed and two are not accredited. Morris Brown College in Atlanta lost its accreditation 20 years ago, she says, but has regained it this year.
Delaware State also gained accreditation in 1945 but lost it in 1949, said university historian Holmes. The university has faced a series of blows, including a lack of government funding, a closure that caused some students to try to get into the University of Delaware, and a lawsuit filed by applicants to be admitted to a segregated school. According to Holmes, Delaware received accreditation as early as 1957.
He said it’s unbelievable that the HBCUs have survived all these years.
“I think people need to understand the hardships that many HBCUs went through to survive and notice that some HBCUs didn’t,” he said.
For those who want to support the HBCU, one of the best ways is financially, according to Jones. HBCU graduates often work in lower-wage service industries such as social work, nursing, and teaching, and HBCUs serve large numbers of low-income and first-generation college students who have to take on student loans and graduate with debt. , she said.
Do you have to be black to go to HBCU?
“We’ve always greeted everyone as long as the law allowed us to greet anyone,” Jones of The Hundred-Seven said. “The only reason our demographic started like this was because the laws required it.”
According to her, the first five students at Howard University were white women.
Their fathers were university trustees, and white women were not allowed to be educated anywhere else in D.C. Their fathers wanted them to graduate, so they enrolled them in Howard, Jones said.
“Most of Howard’s students have long been African American,” she told USA TODAY. “But it was based on laws that white people made.”
What is the value of HBCU education?
Jones said that some people think that students who graduate from HBCU are not taken seriously and that they will not get a good education, and that HBCU is a “loser”, but these ideas are simply not true.
HBCU attracts the attention of diversity-seeking recruiters more than other schools, she says, and has an “unmatched” history, culture, and mentorship.
“The idea of being on a campus where you know there were people walking around campus 100 years ago who were trailblazers and looked like you is something you just can’t match,” she said.
Curricula, while not identical to non-HBCU programs, typically offer programs that interest students, especially undergraduate students, she said. And there is “Black history woven into the curriculum,” said Jones, who recalls studying black philosophy at Howard University.
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And yes, HBCUs are still very relevant, despite what some might think, said Holmes of the University of Delaware. HBCUs provide a supportive environment for all students, especially African Americans.
“There is a lot of room for HBCUs these days,” he said. “There is so much focus on historical black colleges and universities because it is part of the history of this country. This is part of the history of higher education in this country and should never be forgotten.”
Salin Martin is a reporter for the USA TODAY NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia. – 757 – and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas and food. Follow her on Twitter at @Salin_Martin or email her at [email protected]