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Essay Submission Posted on 07-21-2008

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote that the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. It was his belief that intelligence plus character is the ultimate goal of education. Throughout my matriculation at Claflin University I have gained a great respect for an educational experience that has been second to none, and have taken full advantage of every opportunity before me. Not only have I aspired to be a focused and serious scholar, but I have also gained valuable experiences outside of the classroom that have allowed me to grow tremendously in character. Claflin University and other HBCUs contributed to American history because they played a vital role in educating the newly emancipated slaves who were denied educational opportunities at majority white institutions of higher learning. Many notable men and women who contributed to the United States and abroad attended HBCUs and one man who attended my alma mater and contributed to American history was Ernest Finney, Jr. Elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1972, Judge Finney became the first African American to serve on the House Judiciary Committee in modern times. He was one of the Founders of the Legislative Black Caucus and served as its charter Chairman. When he was elected to a judgeship in South Carolina's Third Circuit Court on July 22, 1976, Judge Finney became the State's first African-American Circuit Court judge. He was elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1985; and on May 11, 1994, he became the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, a position he held with distinction until his retirement. HBCUs have continued to contribute to American history by producing graduates who were instrumental in the civil rights movement and I cannot forget Thurgood Marshall, a Lincoln University graduate who won Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, which was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court, which overturned earlier rulings going back to Plessy versus Ferguson in 1996 by declaring that state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students denied black children equal educational opportunities. Historically black universities are still very much relevant because it provides a nurturing learning environment that ensures the success of the students who matriculate there more so than a person of color who attends a predominantly white institution for undergrad. HBCUs prepare its students to attend graduate and professional school and to make valuable contributions to society. I am presently pursuing a PhD at Louisiana State University and I can honestly say that I was given the necessary academic tools at Claflin University that enabled me to further my education. I intend to become the Vice President of Student Development at an HBCU because I want to positively impact the students as I was impacted while I went to Claflin University, and I definitely see the relevance of HBCU’s because of the way they help develop students as productive citizens.
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Home > Forums > Interest Groups > HBCU Specific Topics & Concerns > Scholarship Opportunities > Essay Submissions: Living the HBCU Legacy
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