Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Promoting HBCUs: Black Colleges Provide a Superior Education; They Just Need to Toot Their Horns a Little Louder

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Promoting HBCUs: Black Colleges Provide a Superior Education; They Just Need to Toot Their Horns a Little Louder

Article excerpt

A session presented at a national higher education conference discussed the implications of internalized racism in Blacks. According to the presenter, this sense of self-loathing serves as a factor in preventing Blacks from attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) because they perceive those institutions to be inferior and less prestigious than White colleges. This is not the first time that I encountered this issue of Blacks' forgoing HBCUs because of concerns about the educational quality of these institutions.

In 2005, T. Elon Dancy II expressed a similar sentiment in an essay, "Madness or Elitism? African Americans Who Reject HBCUs" This article was based on a qualitative research study and published in what was then Black Issues In Higher Education. Although Dancy did not link Black students' unwillingness to attend HBCUs to internalized racism, he suggested that participants preferred White colleges to Black institutions because they were perceived as more elite.

While I wanted to attend a Black college for my undergraduate degree, my mother persuaded me to attend a traditionally White institution because she felt that I would get a superior education. After attending two TWIs for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I decided to pursue my Ph.D. at a research-intensive HBCU. As a result, I was able to strengthen my appreciation for these institutions and learn firsthand of their unique ability to produce academically talented leaders and social change agents.

Though some of the Black future doctors, lawyers and engineers I was exposed to scored below average on their college admissions exams, they demonstrated an unwavering desire to achieve academic excellence. Upon graduation, most of these students possessed the academic skills to perform extraordinarily well at some of the country's best universities. To this end, the value added on student learning is indisputable. Undoubtedly, HBCU faculty and many administrators supported students in their efforts by being accessible, caring, supportive, as well as serving as role models and mentors.

HBCU experts and officials have consistently noted the positive impact that Black colleges have on Black students. Though only 3 percent of the nation's colleges and universities are classified as HBCUs, they enroll 16 percent of Blacks at the undergraduate level. They also award nearly 30 percent of all baccalaureate degrees and 20 percent of all first professional degrees to Blacks. Moreover, according to a recent assessment of Black colleges led by the University of Pennsylvania's Dr. …

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