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My Essay Submission for Living the HBCU Legacy Posted on 07-22-2008

VenoldJohnson
Woolwich, NJ
History is presented in a way that glorifies the heritage of those in power. For several centuries, Europeans have become the ‘HIS’ in his story (History). History in public curriculum and scholarship reflect European ethnocentrism. In a sense, the acronym for HBCU is redundant, being that the oldest university in the World was in Africa-more specifically, in Kemet, ‘the land of the blacks’. This university existed during a time where black was synonymous with the term ‘university’, African greatness and intellect (i.e. Egypt, Nubia etc.,). The early American experience for Africans created amnesia of this greatness or of Africa in general. Amidst their initial struggles, Africans in America revived this greatness in the quilt of American history. This phenomenon occurred through breeding grounds for black leaders, professionals and activists, commonly called HBCUs. While HBCUs have had a wide range effect on a global scale, in a domestic capacity, HBCUs have touched almost every aspect of American culture. Lincoln University and Morehouse College birthed two of the greatest agents of change- Thurgood Marshall and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Marshall, who graduated from Lincoln University, fought for civil rights on a legal front, drastically leading to a metamorphosis of the American social and legal scene. Brown v. Board of Education reversed the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which made ‘Separate, but equal’ unconstitutional. His legal work combined with his passion for law and justice led to him being nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Though best remembered for his work concerning Brown v. Board of Education, Marshall transcended racial lines by working to advance the legal system as a whole. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King championed social justice through his tactics of civil disobedience through boycotts, strikes, marches and sit-ins. He was the icon of the black community. A man of great spiritual fortitude and an intellectual who mastered the art of rhetoric, King empowered and mobilized the masses to work towards social reform. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. HBCUs are as relevant today as Historically White Institutions; they are institutions of higher learning. In high school, I learned about American history. The shortest month of the year was devoted to black history, where we took five minutes a day to ‘honor’ African Americans, not Africans. The fight for justice and equality is ongoing. While African Americans make up 13% of the population, there are only two black senators. The idea that black people question the relevance of their own institutions shows an inherent inferiority complex that has haunted the black community from the days of chattel slavery. Black consciousness is the key to freeing ourselves from oppression. Knowledge of the world and knowledge of self is a dangerous threat to black oppression. It took going to a HBCU for me to gain a greater sense of self. I feel empowered when I see other black students learning and aspiring to be leaders and professionals. HBCUs continue to further the legacy of Africans in America.
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Home > Forums > Interest Groups > HBCU Specific Topics & Concerns > Scholarship Opportunities > Essay Submissions: Living the HBCU Legacy
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