Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Historically Black Colleges and Universities Are Still Important

It is important to acknowledge what Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have contributed to the United States not just during February but all throughout the year.  It’s hard to believe that hundreds of years have passed since Africans landed in America.  They did not arrive by  choice.  They were not immediately given their freedom but eventually it would happen.  The next generations has witnessed the need for higher education.  There is an even greater need to prepare our K12 students to successfully enroll in and graduate from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  

Each year thousands of students attend HBCUs with a great sense of pride and anticipation of personal and academic growth. The students are reminded how fortunate they are to live in a country where they are free to attend the college of their choice.  As we look around the country we witness a high dropout rate of African American students.  A HBCU is more invested in each student’s success.  We celebrate in America but we must not forget our brothers and sisters must graduate from college.  Here are 10 reasons why HBCU’s are still important.

1. Historically Black Colleges and Universities graduate more African American students than all other institutions

2. Top African American students are attending HBCUs

3. HBCUs are a place for the next generation of African American leaders to be developed

4. Historically Black Colleges and Universities encourage entrepreneurship of Africans around the globe

5.  It is a place where African Americans can be prepared to take leadership at predominately white institutions

6.  Historically Black Colleges and Universities are an economic source of stability in terms of hiring people in the communities in which they are housed

7.  The research that is occurring at these institutions captures issues that may not be addressed at other institutions

8. Historically Black Colleges and Universities offer unique graduate school opportunities for undergraduates

9.  Historically Black Colleges and Universities may also be more affordable than some high priced institutions

10.  It is good for students to see an African American mana or woman as a leader of these institutions.

There have been many firsts during the last 50 years that HBCUs have existed.  There was the first African American president, the first African American astronaut, the invention of IBM computers, the cell phone, and the Secretary of State.  The list could grow pretty long in terms of what we have accomplished.  African Americans have produced some of the greatest inventions in the world.  African Americans are coaches in the NBA and NFL.  We have accomplished things that were never expected.  It is a lesson that persistence wins every time. Many of these leaders have attended or supported HBCUs.

The importance of HBCUs is a reminder for the next generation to invest in changing the lives of their fellow African Americans.  It has always been an American tradition for K12 students and college students to volunteer in the community and with those who are our older citizens. Volunteerism must continue to be a central part of the next generations focus and to encourage other students to attend HBCUs.  The desire to give back has made each generation prosper.  Responding to the needs of others has benefits for the giver and the receiver of an individual’s time.  Giving through volunteerism is core expectation in the HBCUs mission

The accomplishments of the African American community have been written in many books.  Each African American must have a stake in making our society a better place to live.  Thousands of African American leaders received their start at HBCUs and it is the African American community’s responsibility to ensure that they continue. African Americans live in a country where everyone can prosper and firmly believe that they are a person of worth.  The hope that President Barack Obama talks about must infiltrate the hearts and minds of the all African American people and continue to elevate the value of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Dr Stephen Jones is CEO of SAJ Publishing and an Associate Dean at Villanova University.  He is a keynote speaker and author of three college preparation books at

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