We still need our HBCUs to exist

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For the past few years the question of “are HBCUs still relevant” has become more and more frequent, but no one speaks about the real issues behind HBCUs.

When asking about their relevance, it is hard to not ask about the relevance of a minority’s education in this country. “Does America really value the education of thousands of young black men and women,” is the question everyone should be asking. Historically Black Colleges and Universities provide more than just an education. They provide an experience for young black men and women that they would never get a chance to encounter at a predominantly white institution (PWI).Our comfort level is higher, and students at HBCUs are taught more than ever that thinking outside of the box is not enough. In order to overcome the struggles of being a minority in America, you must realize there is no box.We do not learn in a fantasy world here. We are educated to know that in America the fight is not fair and if we plan on “beating the system” we have to work 10 times as hard as our white counterparts. We have been taught this since the first HBCU was founded in 1837.We stress so hard about remembering our history and respecting our roots, while many of our “educated elite” forget about the value of these great institutions. These schools are not just historical, but they are still monumental in destroying this education problem we still face in America today.Yes, many HBCUs face great financial issues, but too many African Americans don’t even take the time out to ask how this came about.So for the record, the Brown vs. Board of Education decision was a gift and a curse for black America. Although it may have helped black people seek access into PWIs, it also helped HBCUs lose much support and money from the very people they had been helping for all those years.And despite many financial and resource disadvantages, the GPAs of African American students attending college are still higher at HBCUs than at PWI. Also, HBCUs produce over half of all African American professionals.Need more supporting evidence?Well they also graduate 70% of African American dentists, more than 50% of the nation’s African American teachers, and graduate, on average, 75% more African Americans than PWI.In addition to that, 9 of the 10 colleges that graduate most of the African Americans students who go on to earn PhD’s are HBCUs.Yet we seem to forget.People such as Erykah Badu, Sean Combs, Common, Nikki Giovanni, Samuel Jackson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee, Ronald McNair, Rosa Parks, Jerry Rice, Keenan Ivory Wayans, and Oprah Winfrey have all called an HBCU their home at one point in their life. And look at the influence these men and women have had on the world.So with these names facts being presented, why would anyone think that HBCUs are irrelevant? Especially considering the fact that 66.3% of minority students fail to graduate at a PWI.I’m not saying that learning at a white school automatically dooms you for failure. I know many black students who attend PWIs and do just fine. However, many of them also say that the main problem they had with PWIs is that many of them felt the education system was not designed for them. They felt that if used wisely you may succeed in this world; however it’s more designed for minorities to work, not lead. Students who attend HBCUs learn the same material as students at PWIs; however our education seems to always be seen as inferior to others. Why? Just because our college experience may not be the same as everyone else, does not mean our education should be seen as less relevant.The things we say, do, eat, and even talk about are all different in some form. But that does not make either one bad or less relevant. It just makes HBCUs and PWIs different. And since we live different lifestyles and learn in different environments, the way we learn and educate may also have to be different.Yet at HBCUs we do not say we produce leaders. We simply just do it.For example, in the year 2000 Xavier University in New Orleans produced more successful African American medical school applicants than John Hopkins, Harvard, and University of Maryland combined. And let’s not forget about Spelman and Bennett College who produce over half of the nation’s African American women who go on to earn doctorates in all science fields; that is more than the Ivy League’s Seven Sisters combined. And I don’t think I need to even go into detail about the engineers from this great institution of NC A&T SU.I have always supported my HBCUs and I will continue until the day I die. However I hate it when people who have never stepped foot on a black campus, or even spoke to one of our alumni, feel that these institutions hold no power or value in our society. HBCUs have been around for hundreds of years and will only continue to stay around if black America as a whole continues to support our young men and women. A failure to support HBCUs will ultimately result in the failure to support African American education as a whole. Because if America does not see our true value then we are destined for doom. So it’s up to us, the products of these great institutions, to keep our schools alive. For if our HBCUs fail then we all fail.So if we truly feel that HBCUs are relevant then the students and alumni better speak up soon before our schools truly become a thing of the past.