Still a Need for HBCU’s Part 1
“If the Negro in the ghetto must eternally be fed by the hand
that pushes him into the ghetto, he will never become strong
enough to get out of the ghetto.” Carter G. Woodson
Having graduated from an HBCU (South Carolina State University)
and now working at Edward Waters College, the oldest HBCU in
Florida, I learned from past and current experience there still is a
need for these culturally diverse educational institutions. My son
(honor student) attends Florida A&M University, my fiancée’s
sons are graduates of SCSU and Florida A&M, respectively
both honors students.
HBCU’s are under attack it seems by the federal government,
state governments and none Black institutions that see Black
students only as financial aid receipts not as potential scholars
The need for Historically Black Colleges and Universities can
be heard in media circles like the Tom Joyner Morning Show,
blackamericaweb.com, hbcusonline.com/, hbcuconnect.com/
and uncf.org/aboutus/hbcus.asp that consistently promote the
benefits and societal contributions of HBCU’s. The need for
HBCU’s is evident in the understanding that students that lack
exposure to advanced technology and technical instruction still
need traditional methods of hands on learning and instructor led
discussion and dialogue; this is still available at HBCU’s.
Higher education institutions embracing technology lead the
way for digital learning environments (DLE) and online
platforms that demand technical skills. The unfortunate reality
is not every student graduating from high school has sufficient
technology knowledge to be successful in a high tech classroom
of the21st century. The cost of technology implementation and
supporting infrastructure along with obtaining and keeping teachers
that use and can teach with technology are not always available.
Those that have technical skills move to high paid jobs or seek benefits
from non Black institutions that may pay more, but do not support
students lacking technology skills.
Many high schools do not have the resources to provide advanced
technology instruction especially in many urban environments. The
access to hardware and a sufficient ratio of computers to students,
again students in particularly urban schools may have sporadic use
of computers for academic and research work.
Minority students more than their white counter parts embrace
mobile technology that is acquired through cell and smart phones.
This type of access is not the same as with standard desktop or laptop
use and guided by an instructional model that is created for urban
students to be successful. Mobile technology is the way most youth
communicate so instruction should be molded to meet this need.
When transitioning from high school to higher education HBCU’s
serve a purpose in providing a needed traditional approach to
providing educational services that many students still need. Even
non Black students from urban areas benefit from attendance. Data
shows that non Black students are accepted at HBCU’s from urban
high schools have. They have lower opportunities for entrance in
traditional white universities so enroll and graduate from HBCU’s
where they are embraced as “family”. This is seen as a revere
cultural discrimination as more white students seek entrance into
Critics of HBCU’s (mostly non Black) educational institutions
claim HBCU’s have “no legitimate purpose” (Ebony.com 2011),
dispelling these potentially racial statements, data shows 25% and
higher of Bachelor’s degrees of Blacks come from HBCU’s and a
large number of advanced degrees are earned.
Instructors at HBCU’s encourage students to seek advanced degrees
because they understand the challenges Blacks face even with earning
a Bachelor’s degree. HBCU’s although have lower entrance standards
this can be justified because young adults and adults are given
opportunities to earn their degrees and provided support in a nurturing
and culturally/ethnically familiar environment. My experience as an
instructor at EWC an HBCU in Jacksonville, Florida is that students
are unique because of their age and maturity. Many already have
families, jobs and other responsibilities; yes there are the “traditional”
freshmen, first generation students, challenged students, those looking
for a “second chance” in society.
Many HBCU’s were founded after slavery and based on doctrines of
religious expression and spiritual empowerment. Education for Blacks
began in the Bible, reading, literacy and comprehension was started
even before federal and state mandates for instruction in public schools.
Second chances were understood by Blacks when slavery was abolished
and learning opportunities where welcomed even those that were elderly
wanted the opportunity to learn.
In biblical scriptures from Jesus to Mohammed second chances are
granted, how can educational institutions deny those that make mistakes
in their youth continue to plague them into adulthood. HBCU’s see the
potential to grow, the ability of students to mature and the possibility
to be productive in society if only people are given a second chance.
A quote that has Islamic origins, “Whoever will not endure the
affliction of being taught, will stay forever in the debasement of ignorance.”