In light of the recent financial aid scandal that broke at Howard University and the administration building sit in many individuals, who frankly are ignorant have begun to question the need for a higher education institution called the HBCU? Jelani Cobb and Lauretta Charlton in articles written about HBCUs that have recently resurfaced due to the recent Howard scandal both consider the uncertain and contentious roads that HBCUs must navigate under the Trump Administration. These trials and tribulations are nothing new to HBCUs and those who support them. However, during the past week, we have witnessed a surge in discussion and interest in the plight of HBCUs. With the student takeover of the “A” building and the leaked news of the financial aid scandal and cover-up, Howard, the pinnacle of HBCUs, has found itself at the forefront of the news and a topic of discussion across social media. Some of these discussions and critiques have questioned the significance of HBCUs and the role of spaces like Howard in the broader Black community. This conversation extends beyond social media and the news, and it has even found its way onto the television show Blackish. This week’s episode found the characters discussing the merits of HBCUs versus PWIs (Predominantly White Institutions. Many questions have been posed. Why do you believe HBCUs are important? What are some of the major differences for you between HBCUs and PWIs? Why was it important for you to attend Howard University (Pegram)?
Attending Howard University, for me, was a choice of destiny and that alone. HBCUs, Howard University, specifically celebrate blackness and all that it entails. No institution is perfect, though this does not excuse the actions of the recent Howard scandal, this still should be understood. The impact of HBCUs extends beyond the black community. HBCUs allow for curated conversation about race and what it means to be black in a country built white. Ric Keller said; “Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, have played an important role in enriching the lives of not just African Americans, but our entire country.” The HBCU, in my opinion, allows an outlet for black America and if such was taken away it would stunt progression. Also, besides being a cultural outlet the HBCU compared to a PWI is more economically sound for those within the African American that are disadvantaged. Those who question the need for the need of the HBCU in what they deem a “post-race” society frankly don’t truly understand the times.
Having recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination and examining the conversation concerning the need for spaces like Howard or Hampton I am reminded of his words in his famous Mountaintop speech. King said; “I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter to with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop…I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” I believe we are in Promised Land America, but though we may possess some of the land there is still yet much land to be possessed and it is Historically Black Colleges and Universities that train, equip, and develop much of Black America to possess, invade and gain territory that we may not have yet conquered. It is HBCUs that produced those like Oprah Winfrey, W.E.B. DuBois, Rod Paige, Chadwick Boseman, Thurgood Marshall and the list can go on and on. Though they each attended different HBCUs they all have possessed a portion of King’s dreamland. They all have set a standard for the destiny of black folks and this, in essence, shows the need for places and spaces akin to HBCUs.
DISCLAIMER: It is not believed that higher education is the sole solution to humanity’s problems. It is believed that Christ is! However, true spirituality is not void of education.