There is a distinct need for HBCUs in this nation


Brionna McCall, University News Reporter/Writer

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will always be important. HBCUs are known for giving Black people education opportunities that they could not have gotten from Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs).
Attending an HBCU gives its students a safe space to be themselves as Black people, and it gives them the chance to explore themselves and their counterparts in ways others can’t at a PWI.
Black people are given the chance to be around others that look like them, and they can thrive in a protected environment that treats them like family.
According to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the average HBCU tuition rate is almost 30% less than at comparable institutions. Due to systematic racism, many Black people in America struggle with income, and college isn’t free, unfortunately. A 2022 report by the National Urban League shows that Black people are bringing in 37% less income than their white counterparts. African Americans are making an average of $43,862 while white people are making $69,823.
Not only do HBCUs have cheaper tuition, but they also play a huge role in the higher education of Black people. In the 19th and 20th centuries, many colleges and universities refused to let Black people attend, so HBCUs gave them the opportunity for higher education. There is a lot of Black excellence that graduated from an HBCU. Some alumni include: Chadwick Boseman, Phylicia Rashad, Lance Gross, Erykah Badu, Spike Lee, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Oprah Winfrey and Yolanda Adams.
Celebrities are not the only Black excellence coming from HBCUs. In a 2019 Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) report, 40% of all-Black members of congress and Black engineers are HBCU graduates, as well as 50% of Black lawyers and 80% of Black judges.
A UNFC report shows that the 106 HBCUs in the nation make up only 3% of America’s colleges and universities, yet they produce almost 20% of all African American graduates and 25% of African American graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
HBCUs give Black students better after-graduation preparedness. Since HBCUs have such a supportive atmosphere, graduates are more likely prepared for their post-graduation life. They promote diversity while preparing students for the corporate America reality by encouraging leadership, telling the truth about what Black people will have to go through in the workplace and connecting students to a sense of purpose.
Networking opportunities are another huge reason why HBCUs are significant. As I said before, alumni go hard for their HBCUs. Since they go hard for their alma mater, they tend to always give back. Whether it is helping students find job opportunities, providing donations for scholarships or participating in mentorship programs, HBCU alumni will treat students like they are family, which they are.
I decided to attend Alabama State University because it is an HBCU. I grew up in predominantly white schools, so I never knew how important it was for me to be around others that look like me, along with sharing the same interest as me. There were times when I was an outcast because of my skin color and I never knew it until I had gotten older. I was the only Black person in most of my classes, and the only Black history I learned was the same old stuff about the American Civil Rights Movement. My high school never celebrated Black History Month (BHM) until 2019 when my friends and I decided to create a club dedicated to the celebration of Black people. It was called Afro Cultural Education (ACE) Club. We presented the school’s very first BHM event, and there has been a BHM event every February since then.
All of that made me realize I needed to attend and graduate from an HBCU because I wanted to be around culture, I wanted to be around black excellence and I wanted to feel included. This university gave me everything I ever hoped for, and I am proud to be a third-generation legacy student because this university also educated my grandma and my mother into the successful individuals they are today.
HBCUs are important because they may change people’s lives. People may wonder why HBCU alumni are going so hard over their alma mater. It is because it is their first time feeling a sense of belonging. It is their first time being taught about Black excellence in their courses. It is their first time feeling empowered. It represents the four years of their lives when they weren’t the minority.