Our ancestors were ripped away from their foundation, Mother Africa, and stripped of their culture, language, and ultimately their identity. They were forced to live in a cycle of bondage and inhumanity for hundreds of years. On January 1, 1863 our ancestors were freed from their bondage only to be trapped again by an intangible master, a lack of education. This lack of education could have ultimately been the downfall of our ancestors; however, hope came in the form of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, HBCU’s. HBCU’s were the source of quality education for many former slaves and children of slaves in a time when Predominately White Institutions, PWI’s, were unwilling to allow African Americans to attend their schools. Not only did HBCU’s provide a source of education but also gave their students a sense of pride, allowed them to regain an identity, and gave them inspiration to be leaders in their communities. This education beyond the classroom which has been instilled in each graduate of a HBCU is the strong foundation to the contributions that HBCU’s have made in American history. HBCU graduates have shaken American history by being the fore runners and leaders in the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks, James Farmer, Thurgood Marshall, and W.E.B. Dubois , American literary geniuses, Toni Morrison and Langston Hughes, and integral parts of the U.S. Congress, Elijah Cummings and Sanford Bishop Jr.. The education that these influential people were provided by their HBCU’s gave them the desire to help and be leaders of American people. In 2008 this unique education at HBCU’s still prevails and is creating leaders of the African American community. These individuals will fight for the rights of their people as well as become noted contributors to the world community. Though HBCU’s have these benefits, there have been arguments that HBCU are irrelevant in the 21st century and are adding to the lack of African Americans attending mainstream schools. As a student of a HBCU, HowardUniversity, and a former student of a predominately white preparatory school, I have experienced the stark difference between being a student of a PWI and a HBCU. At the preparatory school, I felt as though my work and intelligence was at times looked down upon because of the color of my skin. Now that I attend a HBCU I feel that I am always challenged to do better and produce my best. I also feel a sense of pride and connection to African Americans which I lacked at my previous school. So as a product of both types of schools I can genuinely say that HBCU’s are relevant and give their students an education and a sense of pride that other schools cannot provide.The education that I and hundreds of thousands of HBCU students are receiving can serve a lesson to educating all students. HBCU’s teach you education is more than books and numbers but is the source of nurturing an individual’s greatness in becoming leaders in their community and the world.