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Essay Submission from Monique Whaley Posted on 08-01-2008

HBCUs are a source of accomplishment and great pride for the African American community as well as the entire nation. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, defines an HBCU as: "...any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation. Historically black refers to just that; these institutions were created at a time when black people were excluded from state institutions. They are not institutions exclusive to only black people and many black people are attracted to them because of the environment that an HBCU provides for a black student. Blacks went from getting punished for knowing how to read and write to have our own institution. No other race or culture can say that. I attend an HBCU and I think the most profound part of this experience is that the majority of the faculty and administration are black people. This makes me feel more at home and understood than when I had predominantly white teachers and administrators in high school. It helps me to restore pride in the black community and do it with less resources. Its more intense whereas it develops tenacity and drive in students to get ready for the real world. It has a more hands on approach, with less students and smaller classes. It gives students the opportunity to see and be inspired by a legacy that was built by those a century ago. It also give a student a pursuit of identity and a different outlook that can be lost on a campus where we are a minority. HBCUs are responsible for producing approximately 23 percent of all bachelor's degrees, 13 percent of all master's degrees, and 20 percent of all first professional degrees earned by African Americans annually. HBCU's often attract students from all over the African diaspora fostering cultural exchange. HBCUs are important to higher education attainment for numerous African-American families, and these institutions continue to contribute much to the social, economic, and political balance of the country. The contributions these schools make to the fabric of American life are indisputable. HBCUs, through their spirit and their numerous programs and services, are especially significant to the African-American family, certainly those in the South. These institutions are models of perseverance, hard work, quality instruction, meaningful research, and service to their communities, which is a major cornerstone of the American family. It is unfortunate that the question is still being asked today as to whether or not these institutions are needed. The answer is "yes!" In fact, if these institutions did not exist, they would need to be created because with the deterioration of families in general, the public and private sectors must join alliances to do what it can to help sustain and strengthen the family unit. In other words, it's good for America and the world. The lesson we can learn is that we can do anything if we really want to. Letting someone tell you what you can do and how to do it is not going to work. As I mentioned before, going from not being able to read and write to having several different HBCUs is a big move. What make it better is having whites, blacks, Chinese, and other races being professors at the school. A lesson can be learned just by looking at why and how HBCUs were developed and how they WILL stay around.
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Home > Forums > Interest Groups > HBCU Specific Topics & Concerns > Scholarship Opportunities > Essay Submissions: Living the HBCU Legacy
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