Struggle is native to the human race. Fredrick Douglass said, “without struggle there can be no progress”. For every advancement, achievement and any progression that human beings have made, despite how long it has taken or how trivial it may seem, there has been struggle. However, struggle is only impactful long term if the pursuit of knowledge accompanies this fight for power no matter the form it may take; politically, socially, economically etc. This, if looked at objectively is where historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) found their beginnings. All across the United States a people; burdened by oppression and shunned due to racism in pursuit of power and knowledge began attending the only institutions that made it safe to learn and secure to focus; Howard University, Morehouse College, Tennessee State and the list (one that includes some 102 colleges and universities) can go on and on.
The force that is the HBCU has produced revolutionaries such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee, and Samuel L. Jackson (graduates of Morehouse). The “queen of talk” Oprah Winfrey who is a 1973 alumna of Tennessee State, Debbie Allen, Thurgood Marshall, Stokley Carmichael, Toni Morrison (Howard University) and many more pioneers.
These assertions and claims are broken down and communicated very simply in a recent children’s book self-published by Howard student, a Detroit native named Kyle McMurtry, who is currently a junior. He has penned a compelling children’s book and in this powerful work the 20-year-old enlightens younger generations on the importance of HBCUs and success therein in this piece of literature entitled, “Henry’s Going to an HBCU.”
McMurtry graduated in 2016 from a predominantly black high school, Renaissance High School in Detroit, after transferring from a majority White private school his sophomore year where he feels he didn’t receive fully authentic and transparent assistance in his pursuit of knowledge and higher education; in retrospect, after vacillating between these types of environments and paradigms McMurtry concluded in comparing HBCUs and predominantly black high schools, and I quote; “…the fact that we don’t have as many resources as other schools, but just the environment is more cultivating for success and a lot more caring.”
When asked; “was it always your desire to go to an HBCU”? McMutry noted that in his purview and because of his family’s history two college choices were always at the top of his list Howard University (Washington, DC) where his mother attended and where is dad is an alumni, and the University of Michigan having family who are alumni there as well.
Growing up in Michigan and because of his high school experiences ultimately realized that a school like Howard would be much better in preparing him for achieving what he wanted and succeeding despite the obstacles. McMurtry chose Howard because he thought it would fit him best as a black student. In McMurtry’s book, Henry felt the exact same way. It follows the journey of Henry as he makes the decision to attend an HBCU with his sister, Hope being inspired by his trailblazing choice. His book is available on Amazon.