Reconstruction Period Research Forum
HBCUs: Historically Black Colleges & Universities
The proliferation of colleges and universities for Blacks during Reconstruction in the South opened up higher education opportunities.
Though accreditation discrepancies would not allow a clear count of graduates, over 50 black-serving institutions came of age following the Civil War. HBCU’s were significant because there was virtually no opportunity for black students to attend white/ predominately white state institutions in the South.
Historically Black College or University (HBCU)
Finally, and most importantly, positions taken by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal government reinforced the acceptability of black identifiability. The Supreme Court declared that the use of race-specific remedies to address the effects of past legally-enforced segregation was constitutional. Thus, it became legal to target assistance to the historically black colleges.
Today, there are approximately 106 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which are defined by the White House Initiative on HBCUs as “Those institutions of postsecondary education that were originally founded, or whose antecedents were originally founded, for the purpose of providing education opportunities for individuals of the Negro or colored race, and which continue to have as one of the primary purposes the provision of postsecondary opportunities for Black Americans.” The 106 HBCUs are located in 20 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. These institutions include accredited two- and four-year as well as graduate and professional institutions.
Editorial updated in September, 2001 by Dr. Wilma Roscoe, Interim President & CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEHO). Based on excerpts from “What is a Black College”, by former NAFEHO president, Dr. Samuel L. Myers from NAFEHO Inroads, Feb./Mar. 1987. Contemporary statistics from “A Status Report of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and NAFEHO’s Other Equal Opportunity Educational Institutions”, compiled and prepared by Alicia Vargas in February, 2000.
The first HBCUs were established in the North and were products of independent religious institutions or philanthropic Christian missionaries. The first two were Cheyney University (Pennsylvania), founded in 1837, and Wilberforce University (Ohio), founded in 1856. However, historically black colleges and universities cannot be examined without revisiting major legislations and court decisions that led to the birth of many and the death of a few. The First Morrill Act (also known as the National Land-Grant Colleges Act of 1862) made postsecondary education accessible to a broader population of American citizens. Ten years after this act was legislated, the Freedman's Bureau was established to provide support to a small number of HBCUs. The Second Morrill Act of 1890 led to the establishment of nineteen HBCUs. Although these three legislative acts provided an atmosphere for change, it was the segregation movement in the South that provided the impetus for black higher education, particularly with the 1896 Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which ultimately established by law the right to set up separate but equal schools for blacks. This decision led to the expansion and growth of historically black colleges and universities.
According to Jacqueline Fleming, "the majority of black public colleges, then, evolved out of state desires to avoid admitting blacks to existing white institutions" (p. 5). On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that separate education for blacks in public schools was unconstitutional because separate facilities are inherently unequal. This decision, which ended de jure racial segregation in public schools, also impacted higher education, as states were required to dismantle dual systems of higher education. This required predominantly white institutions (PWIs) to open their doors to black students, who prior to this time could not attend these institutions.
— JAMES COAXUM III
was looking for a comprehensive list which would also include founding dates, but no dice. Here is a good list, however: http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/list/whhbcu/edlite-list.html
Historically Black Land-Grant Institutions and founding dates: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/timeline/landgrant.htm
SC HBCUs and founding dates: http://www.sciway.net/edu/colleges/black.html
NC HBCUs and founding dates: http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/nc/educated/hbcu.htm
--What have been your experiences with using HBCU records to further your research? Anyone with any experiences to share?
--Any other relevant stories to share about ancestors and education?
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