Do you know what Spelman College, Tennessee State University, and Florida A & M have in common? Each school is award winning. Each school has graduated an esteemed cadre of graduates. Each of these schools are a Historically Black College and University (HBCU)[i] whose alumni are pictured in this photo. Stacey Abrams a Spelman graduate, Oprah Winfrey a TSU graduate, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms a FAMU graduate are shown in this stereotype breaking photo circulating on the internet.
American Radio Works best describes the origin of HBCUs. “[A]fter the Civil War, African American education blossomed. Black ministers and white philanthropists established schools all across the South to educate freed slaves. These schools, more than 100 of which are still open today, became known as historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs.” http://www.americanradioworks.org/segments/hbcu-history/
HBCUs are a huge part of black culture in America. Now many of these schools have far more diverse student populations as they are held to the same standards against discrimination as the predominately white institutions (PWIs). Yet, nothing will diminish the strong traditions, practices, and identity of these schools that add to the overall fabric of American culture. Many of America’s most well-known leaders, thinkers, business people, and elected officials are graduates of these special institutions that are unique to America.
To some there is a stigma associated with HBCUs. The horrible rumor is that these schools do not provide the same quality education or opportunities that one would receive in non-HBCUs. The photo of Abrams – potentially Georgia’s next governor, Oprah – one of America’s most successful moguls, and Mayor of Atlanta – Keisha Lance Bottoms, is proof that the rumor about HBCUs is a lie!
Like so many things about our Country, a college education is what you make of it.