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HBCU IMPACT WEEK




What is a historically black college or university (HBCU)?

A historically black college or university is a higher learning institution that was established before 1964 with the mission of meeting the educational needs of black students.

Why were HBCUs created?

After the Civil War, HBCUs were created to meet the educational needs of black students who previously had negligible opportunities to attend college. These schools have humble beginnings, with the first HBCUs conducting classes in people’s homes, as well as church basements and old schoolhouses. The Morrill Act of 1890, which required states to provide land-grants for colleges to serve black students, allowed HBCUs to build their own campuses.

Many people are not aware that HBCUs were founded, not only for free and newly freed blacks, but also for low socioeconomic populations. These populations included whites not able to attend state supported schools. HBCU mission statements show their ability and desire to educate those that were denied higher education, both by law and by practice.

Why are HBCU schools called “historically” black?

The designation of HBCU was created by the Higher Education Act of 1965. This law defines these schools as “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans.”

Why do HBCU schools still exist?

“HBCUs are probably even more important today than ever before. These institutions were created to allow recently emancipated slaves an opportunity to pursue higher education. While times have changed, HBCUs remain relevant,” said Elwood L. Robinson, Chancellor of Winston-Salem State University. “Our value is in the ‘HBCU experience.’ We provide a culture of caring—a culture that prepares students to contribute to their communities, a culture that builds confidence and that gives them the essential skills they need to cultivate a career. That is a culture that is good for everyone and can help bridge the academic achievement gap that exists in America today.”

Where are HBCU’s Located?

All over the country.

What are the biggest challenges HBCUs face and what are they doing to overcome them?

HBCUs are facing the shuttering of their doors. Several have been closed in the last five to ten years for lack of state funding. The challenge is that many State legislatures are reducing funding for HBCU schools, in favor of PWI schools in their systems. Some legislatures are using the premise of “Why should we fund two engineering schools in the state? ‘State U’ has a fine reputation and our tax dollars should be used wisely. Also, federal funding to all schools has been harder for all students to earn. Pell Grants and higher student loans hurt first-generation students and lower socio-economic families' ability to afford the costs of four-year institutions/universities. The loss of funding is the major cause of why certain institutions are losing accredited programs, due to lack of economic stability. HBCU stakeholders must continue to let their State legislative officials, ALL know the issues and educate the public on the importance of the mission to maintain, sustain and retain our HBCUs.

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