HBCUs stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities have played a vital role in the history of U.S. education even though some critics attempt to marginalize their vast accomplishments. Altogether, even though some of these critics also question their significance in 21st century America, HBCUs are as vital and essential as ever.
When the foremost HBCUs were founded prior to the Civil War (1861-1865) – Cheney State University, (initially the Institute for Colored Youth which was established after Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist moved by the 1829 race riots in Philadelphia, PA bequeathed $10,000 i.e. 1/10 of his estate, to make a school for “the offspring of the African race”), the foremost HBCU, in Philadelphia in the year 1837, Lincoln University close to Philadelphia in the year 1854 as the leading HBCU to provide a higher education in arts as well as sciences for Black males, in addition to Wilberforce, the principal private HBCU at an underground railroad end (to free fleeing slaves from the “bondage of ignorance”) in Wilberforce (established by members of the Methodist Episcopal Church as well as named after 18th century abolitionist William Wilberforce, Ohio was against the law to educate Blacks to read and write because literate Blacks were viewed as “dangerous” to society.
As a result, before the start of the Civil War, the Black illiteracy rate exceeded 95% with a majority of educated Blacks rigorous in the Northeast. Furthermore, due to an absence of schools to address their intellectual wants, just regarding every pre-Civil War era literate Black had been self-taught.
Following the Civil War, the first HBCU era began when laws omission Black education were rescinded. The number of HBCUs exploded although ambivalence in addition to outright hostility remained in the beaten South.
With an overwhelming demand for teaching by emancipated slaves in addition to their families who were banned from attending White institutions, including a huge majority in the North, HBCUs founded embarked on perhaps the complete educational transformation in history. Out of the earlier enslaved population of greater than 5 million, Wealth Redistribution, per Kenneth Ng, Race, as well as Southern Public Schools, 1880-1910, “Black learning achievement, was substantial.” Black literacy augmented to 10% by 1880, 50% by 1910, and 70% by 1915. Allowing for Plessy v. Ferguson establishing the “Separate but equal” doctrine, which in fact resulted in Blacks attending double, inferior, underfunded segregated schools, plus the oppressive Southern racial laws of the era, the attainment much in part due to HBCU efforts was miraculous – in Ng’s words, “an achievement seldom witnessed in human history.”
The incredible rise in Black literacy was primarily due to HBCUs rather than or in combination with the elementary as well as secondary schools established under Plessy v. Ferguson. Prior to the 20th century, a lot of HBCUs had to provide primary and secondary education in addition to college prep-type courses before the students were competent to pursue a college degree with a number of focused only on Black males (e.g. Morehouse College founded within Atlanta, GA in the year 1867, the alma mater of Nobel Peace Prize recipient as well as Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in addition to others only on Black females. HBCUs usually did not pursue sole post-secondary teaching until after the year 1900. Per President Mr. George H.W. Bush in January 1991, “At an instance when many schools barred their doors to black Americans, these colleges offered the most excellent and often the single, opportunity for a higher education.”
Following the significant advances in Black literacy, the second HBCU era concentrated on creating a Black professional as well as middle class.
Their efforts though met grave obstacles. Few Blacks had the financial capital to utilize these professionals, as well as fewer Whites, were interested in their services. During this time era to ensure Blacks could appreciate economic benefits from their degrees,
Threatened HBCUs leading to their third period as enrollment as a percentage of Blacks plunged. From 1965-1969 approximately 80%-99% of Blacks were enrolled in HBCUs. From 1970-2010 less than 10% of Blacks are enrolled in HBCUs with many taking advantage of desegregated Public and Private Institutions, Community Colleges, and two-year institutions.