Type HBCUs in a Google search box and the search engine quickly suggests items asking if the institutions are “still relevant,” “racist,” or “good.” The assertion that colleges and universities created to combat racism and educate Blacks when other institutions denied them entry are now racist is more than a little ridiculous. The judgment of whether they are good or not depends on what you value. These institutions don’t have the same amount of resources as behemoth state universities or Ivy League institutions, but they still manage to produce the likes of Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey.
Are they relevant? HBCUs represent three percent of colleges in the United States and are responsible for 21.5 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded to Black professionals. This small slice of the higher education pie churns out 60 percent of all engineering degrees earned by Black students, educates half of the country’s Black teachers, and produces 40 percent of all Black health professionals.
HBCUs are certainly something special. I asked graduates of these historic institutions to help me identify exactly what that certain something is. Here’s what they had to say.