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living the HBCU legacy scholarship Posted on 07-30-2008

Before the Civil War there was no such thing as higher education for African American students. The few, like Fredrick Douglass, who received schooling studied in very dangerous and hostile settings while others were forced to teach themselves. Formal education was more common in the North than the South. Some schools existed in the South like the Institute for Colored Youth which was renamed Cheyney University. College education was available but limited at Oberlin College in Ohio and Berea College in Kentucky. Only two historically black private colleges existed before the Civil War, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and Wilberforce University in Ohio. After the end of slavery and the Morrill Land-Grant Act, the federal land was open to the state to build colleges and universities to educate farmers, scientists, and teachers, but they weren’t that inviting to Blacks in the South. Alcorn State University was the only one welcoming African Americans. In 1890, the second Morrill Land-Grant Act forced the states to accept Blacks into their schools and gave funding to sixteen exclusively black schools. Before the legislature became involved, the American Missionary Association and Freedmen’s Bureau were responsible for the private colleges and universities that educated Blacks. These two organizations along with churches were the backbone to higher education for Blacks. With this support behind them African Americans were able to learn and eventually change the world. Booker T Washington attended Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. Once he graduated from there, he discovered Tuskegee Institute which quickly became famous for its curriculum and preparation of Blacks in agriculture and mechanics. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Howard Thurman graduated from Morehouse College and W.E.B. DuBois and Nikki Giovanni graduated from Fisk University. HBCU’s have laid the foundation for African Americans to succeed. They instill the values and characterics of a proud African American male or female into the hearts and minds of our youth. HBCU’s promote excellence and confidence which shows in the amount of professionals that come from these colleges and universities. Over half of African American professionals are graduates of HBCU’s. They have nine of the ten top colleges to graduate African Americans and then pursue a Ph.D. 50% of Black teachers and 70% Black dentists earned their degree from HBCU’s and over half the nation’s African American female doctorates come from HBCU’s. With statistics like this, it shows the impact HBCU’s are still having on African American youth. These colleges and universities teach us the value of an education. They teach us how to appreciate and understand the true depths of the one’s before us who struggled and fought for us to gain an education and help us to continue to carry the torch to prove that African Americans deserve and are capable of obtaining a sound, quality education and can become productive, contributing members of society.
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