TASHEA WILLIAMS '24
What is an HBCU? The abbreviation for HBCU stands for Historical Black Colleges and Universities. These colleges were established previous to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and are still standing strong today. During slavery and segregation, laws such as the Jim Crow denied African Americans the right to their education, which then further led to the establishments of Black colleges and universities, for those who were being denied education and insisted on remaining persistent.
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, established by Richard Humphreys, was the first institution for African Americans to continue their studies and progress. This encouraged others to open up institutions for African Americans such as Alabama State University, Fayetteville State University, Howard, Xavier of Louisiana, Spelman, and more. These institutions have helped improve the lives of many people.
Not only have these universities made an impact on people, they have also made huge impacts on the world through those people. Since the beginning they have made African Americans, specifically young African Americans, heard and proving those surrounding them wrong with negative connotations. They have also been continuously keeping African Americans and other POC in various career paths and not holding them to just selected ones as previous laws had attempted to. These universities are vital to those who are held to higher standards just because of the color of their skin or where they grew up - and are persistent in proving those who feel they will fall into the statistics absolutely wrong.
From my personal experience of being in a predominantly white institution (although I am not yet in college) it is very challenging to feel accepted when constantly being held to a higher standard. There is always the feeling of being watched and criticized even if you are just sitting with your friends doing homework or just talking as everyone else is doing, never feeling fully recognized except for the few who actually take the time to learn who you are as a person and not just assume by the way you look or talk or mixing you up with EVERY OTHER African American young woman in the school building but somehow manages to tell a classroom full of young women with the same exact name apart and every known fact about them and their families history - things that only a minority would be able to point out understand although it seems so trivial. I share my experiences not in spite but in courage to point out the obvious that is constantly overlooked until black history month during the one assembly that the institution I attend has.
Meanwhile HBCUs celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans and other POC throughout the whole month - and truthfully all year round. The diversity in HBCUs is also immaculate as their rate in staff includes African Americans, Whites, Asian, and Hispanic both men and women which also generates a more comfortable feeling as a minority, the feeling of understandment, and most significantly the feeling of acknowledgement.
If you would like to support your fellow African Americans students - it can simply start with a “hello” or another genuine gesture that can make them feel acknowledged and seen. In support of HBCUs you can donate, volunteer, and just share information that you may have recovered from this article! Thank you for taking the time to read, be blessed :)!