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Living the HBCU Legacy Posted on 07-19-2008

Marishonta Wilkerson Growing up having always attended schools where I was the minority, I noticed differences between myself and my classmates. Whenever I raised my hand everyone would be shocked and whenever I answered a question correctly, I was overly praised. Not to say that I felt bad, but different and everyone around me, students, teachers, and administrators felt the same. Since I only started school in the early 90’s, I can only imagine what it was like to attend school during the 1940’s or even the 1800’s. If I felt different during the 90’s then I am sure the people before me did also. HBCU’s help to ease that great feeling of being different and gives the students a sense of belonging and acceptance. Looking at why most HBCU’s were established sheds lights on their relevance. They were founded because during the 1800’s White people did not welcome Black students at their schools. Even if Blacks were allowed, they were very few in number and were assumed to be inferior to the White students. A sense of inferiority can hinder students’ performance which can eventually lead to failure. So HBCU’s were created to give the Black students a place to call home, to eliminate the great feeling of inferiority, and to strengthen the knowledge of Black history. At non HBCU’s Black history is just a chapter in one book and is taught quickly without much emphasis. At HBCU’s Black students are immersed in their history as well as others. HBCU’s contribute to American history because most were formed at a very difficult time period and caused controversy, but helped many Black students achieve a level of higher education that they could not receive elsewhere. HBCU’s contribute to American history because some of the greatest people came form them. From my HBCU, Spelman College, was Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, from Morehouse College came Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee and the list goes on. Highly valued people in society immerge from HBCU’s and contributed to American History and are continuing to do the same now. Today we can learn from HBCU’s lessons that will help us through life. We learn that when doors close in our face, do not wait for another to open, get up and make your own door, which is what the founders of HBCU’s did. We can learn that you do not have to graduate from an Ivy League school to be able to make a difference in the world. Since most, if not all HBCU’s, are less funded then other schools, we can learn that although we have come along way , we are still not equal. We must continue to educate ourselves and others and eventually overcome. From HBCU’s we can learn to have our own voice, to persevere, to change the world. We can learn the true meaning of Black power and family. Receiving my education from a HBCU for the past two years, I have learned all that and more. Spelman College has shaped me into a strong minded and respectable young Black woman and I would not change my school choice for anything in the world. I am very appreciative for the founders of my HBCU and I am sure of HBCU students feel the same about their school.
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Home > Forums > Interest Groups > HBCU Specific Topics & Concerns > Scholarship Opportunities > Essay Submissions: Living the HBCU Legacy
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