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Living the HBCU Legacy Scholarship Competition Posted on 07-31-2008

How have HBCUs contributed to American History? Why are HBCUs relevant today? What lessons can we learn? Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions that were established prior to 1964 to educate black Americans. At that time when legal segregation and insidious racial prejudice was prominent, educational opportunities for African Americans were slim to none. A lack of education served as one of the greatest obstacle that blacks had to overcome. HBCUs became the solution to the ongoing problem of injustices and unequal opportunities for blacks. Education became a weapon to fight against a segregated society, poverty, racism and illiteracy. By 1973, historically black colleges and universities had increased from one in 1837 to more than 100. One professor described HBCUs as “islands of hope”, due to the freedom of expression and the ability to take intellectual risks. Black campuses emphasize feelings of engagement, extensive support, acceptance, encouragement, and relationships. The primary purposes of HBCUs were to raise up the future leaders in the black community, and offer education to students who had been limited to second-rate schools. These colleges not only readied students for higher education, but consequently afforded them college-level training. In 1950, historically black colleges and universities served ninety percent of black students in higher education. HBCUs are relevant in today’s society because they continue to nurture black talent. Corporations come to these selected universities to recruit educated minorities. HBCUs also create awareness and passion about our race. When we recognize where we’ve been than we know where we’re going. African American history is a mandatory course for students at most of these universities. There is also a historic legacy linked to these institutions. Thurgood Marshall attended Howard University School of Law and researched the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education in the main library on campus. Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. roomed on the campus of Morehouse, George Washington Carver conducted most of his research at Tuskegee and Marian Wright Edelman developed the idea of the Children's Defense Fund at Spelman College. All HBCU students are walking in the shadow of greatness. I have learned many valuable lessons while attending Howard University. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to be thankful for all the opportunities and blessings in my lives. We should be grateful for the past and the journey our ancestors traveled. They were unable to vote, isolated from society, denied education, and treated like second-class citizens. Giving back to the community is vital to the future of African Americans. Each of us is blessed to be a blessing. It is our responsibility to pass on our knowledge and experiences to future generations. We also need to remember who we represent. We represent a brilliant nation and a brilliant people. We are walking in the footprints of George Washington Carver, Shirley Chisholm, Booker T. Washington and Harriet Tubman. HBCUs teach taking pride in one’s self and knowing how capable we are as a people. HBCUs have a unique chapter in the history of America. They have educated eighty-five percent of black physicians, seventy-five percent of black P.D’s and eighty percent of black federal judges. While black students now have the option to attend any type of institution, many are selecting historically black colleges and universities. HBCUs continue to produce tremendous success and recognition. HBCUs are relevant to society because they are a place to learn who you are, and to grow in every aspect of your life.
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Home > Forums > Interest Groups > HBCU Specific Topics & Concerns > Scholarship Opportunities > Essay Submissions: Living the HBCU Legacy
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