HBCU Importance

For most of America’s history, African Americans who received a college education could only get it from an HBCU. Today, HBCUs remain one of the surest ways for an African American, or student of any race, to receive a high quality education.In 1965, in Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965, Congress officially defined an HBCU as, among other things, an institution whose principal missions were, and are, the education of black Americans, was accredited, and was
established before 1964. The first HBCU, Cheney University in Pennsylvania was founded in 1837. Today, there are 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities.HBCUs graduate far more than their share of African American professionals. While the 105 HBCUs represent just 3% of the nation’s institutions of higher learning, they graduate nearly one-quarter of African Americans who earn undergraduate degrees. Put another way, HBCUs graduate 75% more of their African American students than other schools do.

HBCUs, because of their unique sensibility to the special needs of young African American minds, remain the institutions that demonstrate the most effective ability to graduate African American students who are poised to be competitive
in the corporate, research, academic, governmental and military arenas. Consider:

Experts in their chosen field

  • Over half of all African American professionals are graduates of HBCUs.
  • Nine of the top ten colleges that graduate the most African Americans who go on to earn Ph.D.s are HBCUs.
  • More than 50% of the nation’s African American public school teachers and 70% of African American dentists earned degrees at HBCUs.
  • UNCF members Spelman College and Bennett College produce over half of the nation’s African American female doctorates in all science fields

Excellent Institutions

  • As ranked by Black Enterprise in 2003, seven of the top ten “Top Colleges and Universities for African Americans,” including the top six, were HBCUs.
  • HBCU Xavier University is #1 nationally in placing African-Americans into medical school.
  • The first Time Magazine/ Princeton Review College of the Year, Florida A&M University, is an HBCU. It is the #1 producer of African Americans with baccalaureate degrees.
  • Tuskeegee University is the only college ever to be designated a national historic site by the U.S. Congress.

The June 3, 2004 issue of Black Issues in Higher Education shows how HBCUsdominate the upper echelon in terms of numbers of African American graduates per school for the 2002-2003 academic year:

  • Seven of the top eight producers of African-American baccalaureates overall were HBCUs, including #1 Florida A&M University and #2 Howard University.
  • Eight of the top eleven producers of African American baccalaureates in agriculture, agriculture operations and related sciences were HBCUs, including #1 Tennessee State University and #3 Tuskegee University.
  • Sixteen of the top 21 producers of African American baccalaureates in biological and biomedical sciences were HBCUs, including the entire top six (Xavier University of LA (#1), Hampton University (#2), Howard University (#3), Morgan State University (#4), Jackson State University (#5) and Tennessee State University (#6).
  • Six of the top ten producers of African American baccalaureates in education were HBCUs, including #1 Alabama State University.
  • Seven of the top eleven producers of African American baccalaureates in engineering were HBCUs, including #1 North Carolina A&T State University.
  • The top three producers of African American baccalaureates in health professions (#1 Southern University and A&M College, #2 Florida A&M
    University and #3 Howard University
    ) were HBCUs.
  • Eight of the top nine producers of African American baccalaureates in mathematics and statistics were HBCUs: #1 Morehouse College, #2 South Carolina State University
    #3 Alabama State University, #3 Spelman College, #5Southern University and A&M College, #6 Tennessee StateUnversity, #7 Hampton University and #9 Howard University
  • The twelve top producers of African American baccalaureates in the physical sciences,including #1 Xavier University of Louisiana, were all HBCUs.
  • Three of the top five producers of African American baccalaureates in psychologywere HBCUs: #1 Florida A&M University, #3 Hampton University and #5 Howard University.

Remarkable Accomplishments

  • Grambling University Coach Eddie Robinson was named the college football coach with the most wins.
  • Almost half of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus attended an  HBCU.

The proof of the power of an HBCU is in the success of its graduates. Consider
the following prominent HBCU alumni and attendees:

  • Ed Bradley, award winning 60 Minutes correspondent (Cheyney State)
  • Keith Clinkscales, former CEO of Vanguard Media (Florida A&M University)
  • Alvin J. Boutte- founder and CEO of Indecorp, the largest Black-owned financial institution in the U.S. (Xavier)
  • Althea Gibson, first African American woman to win Wimbledon, U.S. Open and the French Open
  • Booker T. Washington, noted educator (Hampton)
  • The Honorable Barbara Jordan, legislator (Texas Southern)
  • The Honorable Kwame Kilpatrick- youngest mayor of Detroit (Florida A&M University)
  • Pam Oliver- trailblazing female sportscaster (Florida A&M University)
  • Reuben Studdard- American Idol winner (Alabama A&M)
  • Sean “P.Diddy” Combs- founder and CEO of Bad Boy Entertainment (Howard)
  • Common- actor, hip hop artist (Florida A&M University)
  • Rosa Parks- civil rights icon (Alabama State)
  • Alex Haley- author (Alcorn State)
  • Steve McNair- NFL quarterback (Alcorn State)
  • Michael Clark Duncan- actor (Alcorn State)
  • A. Phillip Randolph- civil rights activist (Bethune Cookman College)
  • Mary McLeod Bethune- educator, college founder and presidential advisor (Barbara Scotia College)
  • James Weldon Johnson- writer of the Negro National Anthem “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” (Clark Atlanta)
  • Nikki Giovanni- poet (Fisk)
  • Matthew Knowles- music industry executive (Fisk)
  • Rob Hardy and William Packer- movie producers (Florida A&M University)
  • Erykah Badu- singer (Grambling)
  • Wanda Sykes- comedian (Hampton)
  • Ananda Lewis- talk show host (Howard)
  • Andrew Young- U.N. ambassador, Atlanta mayor (Howard)
  • David Dinkins- New York mayor (Howard)
  • Debbie Allen- choreographer, director (Howard)
  • Ossie Davis- actor (Howard)
  • Lynn Whitfield- actress (Howard)
  • Phylicia Rashad- actress (Howard)
  • Sharon Pratt Kelly- DC mayor (Howard)
  • Shirley Franklin- Atlanta mayor (Howard)
  • Toni Morrison- Nobel Prize winning author (Howard)
  • Vernon Jordan- former head of UNCF and Urban League (Howard)
  • The Honorable Roderick Paige- U.S. Secretary of Education (Jackson State)
  • Walter Payton- Hall of Fame NFL player (Jackson State)
  • Whitney Young- former Urban League head (Kentucky State)
  • George Curry- former editor, Emerge Magazine (Knoxville College)
  • Bessie Coleman- first female African American pilot (Langston College)
  • Benjamin Hooks- NAACP head (LeMoyne-Owen College)
  • Marion Barry- Washington, DC mayor (LeMoyne-Owen College)
  • Langston Hughes- writer (Lincoln)
  • Thurgood Marshall- Supreme Court Justice (Lincoln)
  • Jerry Rice- NFL player (Mississippi Valley State)
  • Esther Rolle- actress (Spelman)
  • Oprah Winfrey- talk show host, philanthropist (Tennessee State)
  • Ron Brown- Democratic Party head, Secretary of Commerce (Tennessee State)
  • Wilma Rudolph- Olympic athlete (Tennessee State)
  • Yolanda Adams- singer (Tennessee State)
  • Betty Shabazz- (Tuskeegee)
  • Keenan Ivory Wayans- (Tuskeegee)
  • Ralph Ellison- author of “The Invisible Man” (Tuskeegee)
  • Reginald Lewis- late CEO of TLC/ Beatrice (Virginia State)
  • Tony Brown- journalist (West Virginia State)
  • James Farmer- civil rights activist (Wiley College)
    • Current Members of Congress
    • U.S. Rep. Frank Balance Jr. (D-NC)- North Carolina Central University
    • U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA)- Morehouse College
    • U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL)- Florida A&M University
    • U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC)- South Carolina State University
    • U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)- Howard University
    • U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)- Fisk University, Howard University and Florida A&M University
    • U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)- North Carolina A&T University
    • U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)- Southern University
    • U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)- Fisk University
    • U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL)- Florida A&M University
    • U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)- Howard University
    • U.S. Rep. Major Owens (D-NY)- Morehouse College, Atlanta University
    • U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-GA)- Florida A&M University
    • U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS)- Tougaloo College, Jackson State University
    • U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY)- North Carolina A&T University

SOURCE: Reprint from The United Negro College Fund (UNCF)  www.uncf.org