What does HBCU stand for?

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So to begin with,  HBCU stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and they are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the black community. They now admit students of all races and in recent years some have lost their black majorities. Some icons in African-American history such as Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. went to HBCUs. 

On this video, you are going to see president Barack Obama talking about HBCUs and also you can see others who have attended them. Enjoy it!

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In 2014, I attended a lecture at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, about this new partnership between Brazil and the United States so as to give opportunities to Brazilian undergraduate students to go to HBCUs. According to the representative of the American government, it is called Science Mobility Program which is translated into Portuguese as “Ciências sem Fronteiras” . Besided, if you are done with college and would like to go further, you can apply for postgraduate courses as well. Hope you can take another step! If you are interested in going to an HBCU either to visit or study, you can pick the one(s) from this HBCU College Listing you would like to go to.

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I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of drum lines. They are very nice and jaw-dropping. HBCUs are famous for the competitions and performances. You can watch a short but awesome performance here:

Isn’t is cool? There’s much more waiting for you at the HBCUs. So, in order to summarize, I will share these passages below. Hope you’ve learned a little bit about these important institutions.

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The Changing Face of Historically Black Colleges and Universities
By Marybeth Gasman, University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

Historically Black Colleges and Universities are the only institutions in the United States that were created for the express purpose of educating Black citizens. These institutions were established during the decades after the Civil war until 1964. Many were started by the federal government’s Freedmen’s Bureau with assistance from whites—primarily abolitionist missionaries and Northern philanthropists, who either wanted to Christianize Blacks or train them for their industrial enterprises. African Americans, through the African Methodist Episcopal Church, also established HBCUs.

Until the mid-1960s, HBCUs were, with very few exceptions, the only higher education option for most African Americans. with the push for the integration of historically white institutions during the Civil Rights Movement, enrollment dropped at HBCUs, and their role of educating the near entirety of the Black middle class shifted. Today the 105 HBCUs enroll 11% of Black students in the United States, yet they represent less than 3% of colleges and universities in the country (NCES, 2011). These institutions are public and private, religious and non-sectarian, two-year and four-year, selective and open, urban and rural. Some are financially strong while others are struggling. In essence, they represent the great variety that we have in american higher education.

Today, a full quarter of HBCUs across the nation have at least a 20% non-Black student body. Some people worry that the changing composition of HBCUs endangers the very aspect of these institutions that makes them unique; others argue that diversity makes these institutions stronger, by fostering mutual respect and an appreciation for Black culture among a broader population.

One HBCU I would like to highlight is Morehouse. It is one of two historically black colleges in the country to produce Rhodes Scholars – an international postgraduate award for selected foreign students to study at the University of Oxford. It is widely regarded as “the most prestigious scholarship” in the world. Also, it is the Alma Mater of many African-American leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Would you like to study at an HBCU? I would definitely love to. Some of my friends have actually asked me why they keep HBCUs and its traditions since it is an “excluding” type of college. This information is wrong! HBCUs are part of the history of the U.S. and as mentioned up above, it is not an all-black college or university. It is open to any ethnicity and they accept and welcome people from all over the world.

I see it as an opportunity to learn about African American culture, diaspora, history and struggles. I have studied at PUC Minas which is a catholic university in Minas Gerais, Brazil, and I am not catholic. It is the same for the HBCUs, you don’t have to be American or black, ya feel me?. You just have to be a student and I am sure that if you have made to an HBCU, you’ve gotten your lucky break. Hope this has helped you understand a little bit about the HBCUs. If you think I can be of any help, do not hesitate to contact me and I will be glad to answer your questions.

Thank you very much for your time,

This material has been selected, adapted, analyzed and put together by Rodrigo P. Honorato.


4 thoughts on “What does HBCU stand for?

  1. Wow! It’s interesting to get to know more about these colleges. I’m glad these colleges accept people from all races because it’s no more necessary to get people apart! I know that there are some churches only for black people in the U.S. I’ve been to a church in Houston, Texas like that. I don’t know this still remain among people today!

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    1. Hey Vania,

      Aren’t they cool? Well, the intention of the HBCUs is not to segregate white or other people. HBCUs are meant to maintain a culture as well as spread knowledge about African-American culture, customs, and all that jazz. If you have a chance to go to an HBCU, don’t miss it!

      See you around,
      Rodrigo P. Honorato

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    2. These universities teach black students about our culture .black people are the most disregarded people ,our heritage was lost with slavery ,our language ,our names ,even the divide colorism with light skinned dark skin,there ,are also Hispanic churches only as well ,what’s also sad is that some Africans think they are better than Afro Americans ,this is my experience ,I don’t understand how the population of blacks are going down when this college was started for African Americans ,I’m for unity but it feels like blacks can’t have nothing anymore ,even the kardashians are the new black females goodness

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