Thank you for your March 28th insightful and inspirational article on the unheralded contributions of Black mothers and historically and predominantly Black colleges and universities to this nation. As of Jan. 1, 2002, I became the President and CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), which is the Washington-area representative of more than 100 of these illustrious institutions, and I am one of five children raised by a mother who graduated from a member institution, Florida A&M University, where I served as president for 16 years. My siblings, as well as my three children, are graduates of NAFEO member institutions. Being a son of a Black mother and a graduate of a Black university, as well as a father and brother of graduates of Black institutions, I am acutely aware of the role that Black mothers and Black institutions play in shaping the lives and aspirations of Black children.
In fact, this nation owes Black mothers and Black institutions for the emergence of the Black middle class; the innovation and ingenuity of Black scientists for discovering life-saving products and procedures, and solutions to food production problems; and the bravery and vision of freedom fighters and legal scholars for opening up a segregated society. Moreover, affirmative action and diversity would be empty symbols without the productivity of Black women and Black colleges and universities. The success of Black people is inextricably linked to the strength of Black women who helped to lead Black people to freedom through the underground railroad and paved the way to literacy and self-sufficiency by teaching, mentoring, and opening schools and colleges.
Your article provides an opportunity for genuflection and reflection on the critical role that Black mothers and Black institutions play in our society and for action to strengthen their abilities to continue serving and raising the aspirations and accomplishments of Black children. As the new leader of NAFEO, my vision is that, with public and private support, there are three areas where Black institutions are uniquely prepared to provide leadership for the nation: graduate education, research and technology
Finally, I hope that your article and my response will prompt people to ask the question — How can I help? We can support Black colleges and universities by sharing their hope for the future that they remain steadfast in their commitment to the education of Black students. We can encourage individuals, policy-makers, and corporate executives to make funds available to Black institutions. And, we can assist Black mothers by giving them our utmost respect and honoring them every day for the excellent parenting they do for Black children, and work with them to raise the abilities and the hope in our Black communities to serve better the dreams and aspirations of Black male youth and men.
Dr. Frederick S. Humphries
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