Historically Black Colleges & Universities

By Joyner, Tom | Ebony, September 2006 | Go to article overview

Historically Black Colleges & Universities


Joyner, Tom, Ebony


Historically Black colleges and universities are deeply rooted in me. My grandparents, my parents, my brother and me, my two sons, and my niece are all graduates of HBCUs. My brother Albert and I attended Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) mainly because we lived in Tuskegee, Ala., a small town centered around a booming Black college. I grew up believing there was nothing I could not achieve.

Not every Black child is so fortunate. Even my sons, Thomas and Oscar, didn't have the rich Black experience I had growing up. They grew up in a Dallas suburb and attended a private, mostly White school. I told them they could attend any college or university in the country as long as it was an HBCU. If you're a parent paying for your children's college education or even filling out the financial aid forms, you have an obligation to make certain they attend an institution that will best serve them. If you aren't sure what's best, ask yourself if the college you're considering can offer your children a sense of history and a caring, nurturing faculty who knows them by name and not as a number. If your children are receiving athletic scholarships, ask yourself whether the goal of the college is for your child to graduate in four years or to improve the school's win/loss record?

Kids need to know that HBCUs are not merely options, they're answers. Thomas chose Howard University and Oscar chose his grandfather's alma mater, Florida A&M. I'm very proud of the men they've become. They both have big love and respect for Black people, and I believe this comes from learning from and being with people who look like them. Oscar is now CEO of Reach Media, which syndicates The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and heads all its brands. Thomas is CEO of the Tom Joyner Foundation, which provides scholarships to students who have run out of money at HBCUs.

Did I mention that Fortune 500 companies are more likely to hire African-Americans who graduated from HBCUs than Blacks from other institutions? …

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