Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Encyclopedia

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Encyclopedia

Article excerpt

Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Encyclopedia, by F. Erik Brooks and Glenn L. Starks. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press, 201 1, 338 pp., $89.00, hardcover.

In their new encyclopedia, F. Erik Brooks and Glenn L. Starks provide a comprehensive, up-todate general reading about historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States. Both authors hold PhDs; Brooks is an associate professor at Georgia Southern University, and Starks is a senior manager with the U.S. Department of Defense. This engaging book reads like a "coffee table book" and will appeal to everyone (Gasman, 2005, p. 33). As the authors indicate in the introduction, "This book . . . was written for a wide audience, to include lay people, students, academics, and policy makers" (p. xvi). Its general appeal notwithstanding, Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Encyclopedia also will be welcomed by scholars, particularly, people who conduct academic research in higher education.

General interest books on the history of HBCUs are not new. For example, in 2004, Juan Williams and Dwayne Ashley published I'll Find a Way or Make One: A Tribute to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Their book is a chronological, social history of HBCUs. However, such an attempt often oversimplifies topics by not including all the issues, and by not providing a breadth of secondary sources. Compared to I'll Find a Way, Brooks and Starks's encyclopedia is more pragmatic and aesthetically interesting to a larger audience; furthermore, they have made it available as an e-book at

The book begins by providing an event timeline and by listing the accredited public and private HBCUs as of 2010. The authors grasp that HBCUs are not limited solely to senior colleges and as such they include a listing of accredited junior or community colleges. Within the text, each HBCU is profiled by the era in which it was founded.

The first section discusses the founding of colleges during the antebellum era. The authors debunk the common narrative that HBCUs and African American schools were founded only after the Civil War. For example, the first HBCU, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, was founded in 1 837. Moreover, the authors explain that progressive White colleges (Berea College, Oberlin College, etc.) admitted African Americans almost 30 years before the end of the Civil War.

The second section covers HBCUs founded from the war's end in 1865 until the end of Reconstruction in 1877. It presents the W. E. B. Du Bois-Booker T. Washington debate with regards to their philosophies on Black education in the latter part of the 19th century to the early 20th century.

The third section examines schools founded from the end of Reconstruction to the early 20th century. The Morrill Land Grant Act of 1890 increased public HBCUs because it mandated that southern state legislatures either desegregate its public colleges or establish separate Black colleges. The southern state legislatures choose the latter, leading up to the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision (in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation was constitutional).

The fourth section looks at HBCUs after the turn of the century and summarizes the challenges of that era. For example, there were issues of funding from beneficiaries, of the continued Du Bois- Washington debate, and of segregation in higher education.

The fifth section follows events during the 1960s and 1970s, showing examples of the HBCU student involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and later in the anti-war movement. The examples provided are necessarily limited; nevertheless, readers will definitely understand that HBCUs played a vital role in these movements.

Also in this section, the authors contend that equality in higher education remained a problem despite the 1 954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. As noted in various scholarly studies, public and land grant HBCUs have always disproportionately received less funding than their White counterparts (Fairclough, 2007). …

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