HBCU's have contributed to American history in many ways. Shortly after the slaves were emancipated Black coleges were created because ex-slaves needed teachers, phyisicans and attorneys. The Black Church initially supported black colleges. Later Black colleges recieved funding from white missionaries. The end of the 1900's supported Black colleges by white philanthropies such as the Carnegie and the Rockefeller Foundations. Their support meant their influence. These supporters wanted to produce college-bred leaders who would teach Blacks the values and mores of southern society. At the same time, W.E.B. DuBois, a prolific Black leader wanted to educate the "talented tenth" that would lead Black people to their own self-sufficiency and determination.
Fortunately, by the 1930's the United Negro College Fund was formed. The UNCF was created to support the HBCU's so that they could have the monetary independence they needed to produce the kind of leaders the Black community needed. By 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education declared all-Black institutions substandard. This decision had a profound and negative effect upon HBCU's. The HBCUs survived thanks to the Impact of Education of 1965. This Act requires that the predominately Black college or University must be accredited. Historically, the HBCUs have survived and prospered with the Black community.
HBCUs are relevant today because they continue to fill the needs of students who feel comfortable in the environments they provide. HBCUs are not just for Black students; people of all races and ethnicity attend these colleges. West Virginia State University, once a predominately Black college now has a student body that is 90 percent white. This week for the first time a white student was chosen as valedictorian at Morehouse College. he maintained the 4.0 grade point average for the four years, so he was chosen regardless of his race.
I currently attend a HBCU. I am a student at Tuskegee University and this past year has taught me a graet deal. Booker T. Washington founded Tuskegee in the 1800's. George Washington Carver, affectionately known as the "peanut scientist" is one of the best-known graduates of Tuskegee. He is buried on the grounds of the University. "The Tuskegee Airmen" veterans of World War II are graduates of Tuskegee. They broke the "color" barrier and did not lose one airmen. And sadly there are the men who were duped into participating in the "Tuskegee Syphilis" experiment. The fact that G.W. Carver is buried here teaches us that Tuskegee is sacred ground; there is a definite connection of the past with the future. The Tuskegee airmen remind us to be proud of our past. Sadly, the Syphilis experiments remind us not to be too trusting.
HBCUs teach us that where there is is a will there is a way. Black people wanted higher education , so they had to create their own places of learning. HBCUs teach us that faith does work. If you believe it, you can achieve it. HBCUs teach us that we should not discriminate against people even though people have discriminated against us. People of all races and ethnicities are welcomed at our colleges. HBCUs teach us that very smart and successful people have and continue to attend our colleges and universities. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., General Colin Powell and Debbie Allen are all graduates of HBCUs. HBCUs teaches us that there is still a need and a purpose for the renewal of the Higher Education Education Act of 1965 which defines these colleges and universities as useful learning institutions in the United States.