Monthly Archives: August 2017

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The Plight of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions established prior to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that focuses on educating African-Americans. They have a long, rich history in U.S. education. But with the end of segregation in education, fewer black students are choosing to attend HBCUs, so their enrollment numbers and funds are suffering. Let’s take a look at the history of HBCUs and the declining state of them today.

By the Numbers


Number of HBCUs in the U.S. today (1)

Of those 100 …

51 are public schools.

49 are private schools.


Number of states with HBCUs (1)


Number of students enrolled in HBCUs (1)


Percentage of degrees earned by HBCU students that were bachelor degrees (1)

$8.5 billion

Total revenue for HBCUs in 2010-2011 (1)

Brief History of HBCUs

Let’s look at a brief timeline of HBCUs from the early 1800s to 2000. (2,3)

1799: John Chavis is the first black person to attend an American college or university.

1823: Alexander Lucius Twilight is the first black person to receive a degree from a college in the U.S. He receives a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in Vermont.

1837: The African Institute (now named Cheyney University in Pennsylvania) is established for free blacks. But it does not become a degree-granting school until 1932.

1854: Ashmun Institute, now known as Lincoln University, in Oxford, Pennsylvania, is founded as the first institution of higher education for black men. Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall later graduate from this school.

1880: 45 black colleges and universities exist in the U.S.

1932: There are 117 HBCUs (36 public and 81 private) in the U.S.

1954: Brown v. The Board of Education eliminates the legal basis for racial segregation in higher education.

1957: Legislation is passed in Tennessee that requires state universities to desegregate.

1970s: The implementation of affirmative action allows for the fair treatment of blacks during college admission processes.

1980: The United Negro College fund holds its first telethon, receiving $14.1 million in donations to support HBCUs.

1990s: Multiple states, including Louisiana, California and Florida, pass legislation that makes it illegal for colleges and universities to discriminate against applicants based on race.

The Problem Years: 2000-Present

In 2001, an affirmative action admissions program at the University of Georgia is ruled unconstitutional. The next year, black applicants drop by 20%. (2)


Percentage of all colleges and universities that used race as a factor in the admissions process in 2003 (2)

Today …

Only 9% of black students are choosing HCBUs, compared to 80% during the Civil Rights movement. (5)

No HBCU school has a graduation rate higher than 70%. The bottom half of HBCUs have graduation rates no higher than 34%.(5)

HBCUs account for only 3% of colleges and universities in the U.S. (4)

HBCUs award 20% of all degrees received by black Americans. (4)

It is predicted that by 2035, the number of HBCUs in the U.S. will drastically fall from 104 to about 35. (4, 5)



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White House to Proceed with HBCU Conference, Despite Black Lawmakers’ Request to Postpone It

Category : Uncategorized

Over 85 leaders of HBCUs met with President Donald Trump at the White House earlier this year in what turned out to be merely another photo op for Trump. (Photo by Martinez Monsivais/AP)

The White House has rejected calls to postpone an upcoming conference on historically Black colleges next month, despite requests from Black lawmakers for President Donald Trump to delay the event amid fallout over his remarks about the deadly Charlottesville protests.

The 2017 National HBCU Week Conference will proceed as scheduled, Omorosa Manigault-Newman, communications director for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison, said on Tuesday, Aug. 22. The event will take place Sep. 17-19 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va.

“President Trump’s commitment to the HBCU community remains strong and unwavering,” Manigault-Newman said in a statement to the McClatchy Washington Bureau. “Registration is currently at capacity and we’re looking forward to welcoming HBCU presidents, students and guests.”

She added that administration officials are expected to announce an executive director for the president’s initiative for historically Black colleges.

Some lawmakers and HBCU supporters remain wary of Trump’s commitment to the historic schools, however, after the president questioned whether a key funding source for HBCUs was constitutional. Then, there was the time he signed an executive order recognizing the importance of HBCUs, but then failed to provide them any additional funds in his proposed budget.

Trump’s comments in the wake of the Charlottesville unrest sparked by white nationalist protesters, where be blamed “many sides” for the violence that unfolded, didn’t help his case with Black lawmakers. Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), the first lawmaker to call for the president to delay the upcoming conference, said the White House didn’t respond to her Aug. 1 letter requesting an update on the HBCU initiative nor did it get back to her after the president’s tepid reaction to the violent rally, according to the McClatchy Washington Bureau.

Rather than proceed with the conference next month, “It’d be more productive to hear from the president directly or from his education secretary about what progress they are making on the HBCUs’ request before asking presidents to come back to Washington for another photo op,” Adams said Tuesday.

Leaders with the United Negro College Fund have also called for Trump to shelve the event. In a two-page letter obtained by The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the organization wrote it feels the conference should be put off until the White House appoints an executive director to its HBCU initiative and develops “a meaningful plan of action with concrete commitments to invest in and advance HBCUs.”

“We make this recommendation in the spirit in sincerely advancing our mutual goals of promoting excellence and innovation at the nation’s HBCUs and enhancing their unique educational, economic and civic contributions to the country,” UNCF president and CEO Michael Lomax wrote in the letter to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Andrew Bremberg, the White House domestic policy council director.

The organization added that it would not release a critical HBCU economic impact study it commissioned if the conference goes forward as planned.