HBCUs: Almost 200 Years of Excellence

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Attending an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) for my undergraduate studies was the BEST decision I ever made for my life. The experiences that young, Black adults get when they decide to obtain their degree at an HBCU are unmatched! Traditions at HBCUs can include dorm step shows, panels led by civil rights activists, Battle of the Bands, and of course, classic football games! For anyone familiar with Spike Lee’s “School Daze and the iconic series “A Different World,” they understand where I’m coming from.

Note: Both of these are available on Amazon Prime. Click on the titles for more information. 

An HBCU is a college or university that was originally founded to educate students of African-American descent. Essentially, an HBCU is “any Historically Black College or University that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of Black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.”(Source: Ed.Gov) “Today, there are 107 HBCUs with more than 228,000 students enrolled. Fifty-six institutions are under private control, and 51 are public colleges and universities.” (Source: Ed.Gov)

Note: The purpose of this article is to give shine and highlight some of these institutions that are in need of our love and support. This list is not intended to rate any of these illustrious schools.  Click on the name of each HBCU name for direct access to their respective websites.

The First HBCU

HBCU: Cheyney University

Cheyney University

On February 25, 1837, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, became the nation’s first Black institute of higher learning. Cheyney University retains its foundation in the liberal arts, along with select professional studies programs.

The Nation’s First Private HBCU

HBCU: Wilberforce University

Wilberforce University

Established in 1856, Wilberforce is the nation’s oldest private Historically Black University owned and operated by African Americans. Affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Wilberforce is a four-year accredited liberal arts institution.

“Mother of African-American Colleges in North Carolina”

HBCU: Shaw University

Shaw University

Founded on December 1, 1865, Shaw was the first college in North Carolina to offer a four-year medical school. It is also the first institution of higher learning established for freedmen after the Civil War and the first historically Black college in the nation to open its doors to women.

Alabama’s Oldest Private Black Liberal Arts College

Talladega College

Talladega College

Alabama’s oldest private HBCU was founded in 1867 after a meeting of two former slaves. Affiliated with the United Church of Christ, this school was to provide education to children of former slaves of the community. It offers 17 degrees and is noted as a “top college for sciences”.

First Public Teach Education Institution in the West

HBCU: Harris-Stowe State University

Harris–Stowe State University

Named in honor of William Torrey Harris, the institution was founded by the St. Louis Public Schools as a normal school. This allowed for Harris-Stowe the distinction of being the first public teacher education institution west of the Mississippi River. The university currently offers 50 majors, minors, and certificate programs.

First HBCU to Award College Degrees

Lincoln University

Receiving its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on April 29, 1854, Lincoln University is the nation’s first degree-granting HBCU. Providing a rigorous liberal arts education, Lincoln aims to be a national model for both innovative graduate and professional programs.

For more information regarding HBCUs from a historical context, head over to Ed.Gov.

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Thanks for writing this. The other thing that HBCUs showed me was how diverse the diaspora was. Also, the professors and academic rigor don’t get nearly enough recognition.

Taisha Edwin Williams

Great read!

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