HBCUs Will Still Have A Role to Play In the 21st Century
With the new millennium now underway, and with predominately White higher education institutions aggressively recruiting Black students, the question may be asked, “Will HBCUs [historically Black colleges and universities] remain an important part of U.S. higher education in the 21st century?”
The major reason Blacks attended Black colleges in earlier years was because, with rare exceptions, they had nowhere else to go. The pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction, and this is no longer true.
Nevertheless, the facts continue to speak loudly in support of predominately Black schools. One higher education writer has concluded that without HBCUs, many young Blacks would never see the inside of a college classroom. While HBCUs make up only 3 percent of our nation’s colleges and universities, they produce 28 percent of Blacks who hold undergraduate degrees.
The number of Black students enrolled at Black colleges has now reached an all-time high. Figures compiled recently indicate that more than 360,000 students were enrolled at HBCUs, an increase of 26 percent over the past 18 years. This is a remarkable achievement considering that such prestigious institutions as Yale, Princeton and Stanford are offering complete funding to many of the best Black high-school graduates.
HBCU graduates make their marks in the world, becoming national leaders in many fields. Alumni include the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from Morehouse College; Dr. John Hope Franklin, renowned historian, from Fisk University; Dr. William Julius Wilson, the leading scholar on Black poverty and Leontyne Price, Metropolitan Opera diva, from Wilberforce University; and Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and the Rev. Andrew Young from Howard University. In addition to Rev. King and Rev. Young, many other leaders of the civil rights movement were HBCU graduates.
Nearly 80 percent of Black officers in the U.S. military are HBCU graduates. So are 80 percent of Black federal judges, 60 percent of Black attorneys and 50 percent of Black teachers in public schools.
HBCUs’ future prosperity depends, like all higher education institutions, on quality leadership that devotes constant and dedicated attention to people, programs and plant. The best possible administrators, faculty and students must function within flexible programs of study conducted in the best possible facilities, and must be able to handle increasing amounts of technology. National publications have cited Wilberforce as one of 15 U.S. institutions offering an outstanding Cooperative Education Program. At the university, students are required to spend 35 to 40 hours a week for 12 to 16 weeks working at an off-campus job related to their major. They build a work résumé that strongly appeals to employers.
The confidence and generous support of important constituencies perpetually interested in the welfare of predominately White colleges and universities is also essential to the welfare of Wilberforce and to the other 113 HBCUs. The ability of HBCUs to empower, encourage and enrich the lives of Black youth by providing an exceptional education at an affordable price is validated by its graduates. Each spring, thousands leave campus not only to excel in their careers, but also to become servant-leaders in communities across the country.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com