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Corey L Johnson's Living the HBCU Legacy Posted on 07-24-2008
Corey L Johnson

Corey L Johnson
Living the HBCU Legacy
Throughout history it has been proven that many of America’s prominent leaders have been graduates of Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s). These historical institutions are responsible for producing very reputable and distinguished alumni; many which are included among America’s greatest achievers, activist, authors, educators, elected officials, entertainers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, philosophers, religious leaders and scientist. Knowing these facts we can see how HBCU’s play a critical role in the progression and development of great American leaders. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a reverend, well known civil rights activist, and laureate for the Nobel Peace Prize, played a very significant role in American history as one of the pioneers during the civil rights movement, Dr. King was a graduate from Morehouse College an HBCU in Atlanta Georgia. George Washington Carver an explorer and innovator who revolutionized US agriculture and science was a graduate from Tuskegee University in Alabama. Lincoln University in Pennsylvania intended to provide higher education in the arts and sciences for African American male youth, went on to graduate some great alumni, including Langston Hughes an American poet, novelist, play/short story writer during the Harlem Renaissance and Thurgood Marshall the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, known for being a lawyer who argued and prevailed before the Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education. A critical time in American history when state laws that established separate schools for black and white students, and denied black children equal educational opportunities. This law was handed down on May 17, 1954 the Warren Court's unanimous (9-0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." This victory paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement. HBCU’s have not only produced outstanding African male protagonist but also females such as Ruth Simmons the first African president of an Ivy League school, and before Venus & Serena Williams there was Althea Gibson a famous African American tennis player who graduated Florida A&M University in 1953. Today HBCU are producing even greater leaders and philanthropist such as Oprah Winfrey a media mogul from Tennessee State University. The youngest mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick graduated from Florida A&M University and Tom Joyner a world known disc jockey and graduate from Tuskegee University. Recent statistics show that HBCU’s make up 3 percent of the total number of the nation’s colleges and universities, and of those 3 percent or (105/3688) institutions, it is responsible for producing 20 percent of all degrees earned by African Americans. More than 50 percent of the nation's African American public school teachers and 70 percent of African American dentists and physicians earned degrees at HBCUs. Over half of all African American professionals are graduates of HBCUs. Xavier University in New Orleans individually produced more successful African American medical school applicants (94) than Johns Hopkins (20), Harvard (37), and the University of Maryland (24) combined. Two other HBCUs also placed in the top ten producers of medical school applicants, including Morehouse (33), and Spelman (38). Nine of the top ten colleges that graduate most of the African American students who go on to earn Ph.D.s are HBCUs. The significance of historically Black colleges and universities in the educational experience of African American students has been well documented. However, recent court decisions challenge these institutions' continued ability to fulfill their historical missions. Therefore, it is more vital than ever to learn and understand the unique role played by HBCUs particularly in the educational, social, and economical plans of students in the African American community.
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