Very few people understand hbcu meaning and how much black colleges have contributed to the prosperity of the United States. Without historically black colleges the United States wouldn’t have a middle class of black people. What does hbcu stand for? What would have happened if prominent black men like Martin Luther King Jr, Oprah, Thurgood Marshall, and Spike Lee hadn’t attended historically black colleges and universities? These are some of the questions that we will cover in this article. 

Despite all the obstacles that these learning institutions face, they remain the pillars of innovation and empowerment for black students and adults. A research study conducted by education experts found that 24 percent of STEM degrees are earned by African-American learners from historically black colleges and universities. Apart from that, according to the Thurgood Marshall Fund, these learning institutions enable 40 percent of African Americans to graduate and become engineers and members of Congress. Black lawyers and judges account for 50 percent and 80 percent respectively.

One of the things that distinguish historically black colleges and universities from other learning institutions is their diversity. While most people talk about and categorize them based on the makeup of racism, these learning institutions are different from each other. According to the Federal government’s definition, black universities and colleges stick together because they were founded before the year of the Civil Rights Act of -1964 to help African Americans learn. 

These institutions were comprised of large, small, private, public, selective, nonsectarian, religious, and open rolling. And they were a total of 103. They educate an average of 300000 learners and employ more than 14000 members. Most black colleges are thriving. However, others are doing their best to make ends meet. Regardless of their financial situation, these learning institutions have helped students access black lives matter essay examples to become better essay writers and offered the much-needed financial help to African American learners.

The Link between historically black colleges and universities and civil rights

Back in 2010, the Governor of Mississippi recommended the State Legislature consolidate all the historically black colleges and universities of Mississippi to preserve $35 million in the state budget for the following year. This radical stand led to protests from the faculty, alumni, and learners of Jackson State University. 

One of the protesters said that they had a responsibility to protect their heritage and legacy. The majority of activists felt that the governor’s proposal made it difficult for learning institutions to choose their leaders because their survival was put into question. Instead of closing or merging these learning institutions, the stakeholders demanded that the state provide funds to improve the operations of existing institutions and enable college students to write essays and research paper examples.

While the proposal of the Governor might seem like a unique story of political radicalism, fifty years ago, the issue of the perceived place of 105 historically black colleges and universities was a big deal. HBCUs have played a key role in transforming our world over the years. This especially applies to the growth of the American Civil Rights Movement around the 1950s and 60s. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr has been credited many times for this movement. However, many scholars prefer concentrating on the movements based on the learning facilities.

These scholars have found that historically black colleges and university encouraged learners to create student bodies that would largely contribute not only to the creation of campus education course, essay writing and book review class but also to social justice. Students felt the effects of social repercussions that challenged the power that the white held. The debate about the relevance of historically black colleges and universities is still active to date especially when these institutions start pushing for diversification.

Some people feel that historically black colleges and universities are abandoning their mission to the Black community in America. On the other hand, others are pushing for diversification because they think that widening the demographics of students will improve learning conditions and keep the institutions relevant in our modern world. Yet others, like the Governor of Mississippi, feel that these institutions have lost their relevance because they haven’t adapted to the times.

The fact is, hbcu colleges have played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. And this movement has been influenced in multiple ways by historically black colleges and universities. How did this happen? Let’s travel down memory lane for you to understand.

Breaking the bond and forming new connections

Historically black colleges and universities were created as a response to racial segregation. And they’ve had a long history of promoting inclusivity and social equality practices. Most of the institutions didn’t exist until after the Civil War. However, they were present in small numbers about two hundred years ago. 

Since they were developed, the learning institutions have shown fair admission and financial practices towards Native Americans, African Americans, Caucasians, and women. Religious minorities have also been treated well by these learning institutions. Back in 1830, the education system developed by African Americans offered financial help and educational opportunities to the Choctaw Nation. However, most of these institutions faced political opposition.

The majority of southern states passed laws to hinder the education of slaves before the Civil War. These laws criminalized early African American learning till the mid-1800s. Therefore, at the time of the civil war, no African American slave was learned.

When the Confederacy fell, Most African Americans faced a series of problems that stemmed from the laws that forbade their education. Even if some of them were educated, they had no chance of escaping the socioeconomic circumstances from which they had been freed constitutionally.

This led to the emergence of schools linked to churches as freed slaves continued sprouting across southern America. Northern philanthropies, southern churches, and Freedman’s Bureau came up with and sustained “Sabbath schools” since they met regularly after church service. While these learning institutions suffered from poor funding and lack of adequate staff, they were the first to come up with a universal education system that was state-funded.

One of the things that symbolized the breaking of the bonds of slavery by African Americans is the emergence of the primitive school system. Most African Americans viewed education as the ultimate savior. This mindset helped Sabbath schools receive huge support from the communities they helped. And they grew exponentially in size and depth for the decades that followed the Civil War.

Despite their efforts, the communities that were helped by the African American community heavily relied on northern philanthropies for funding. This made it possible for northern agencies to gain control over the curricula. Two groups were formed in the process to help African Americans get higher education.

Booker T. Washington and Samuel Armstrong came up with the school model known as the “Hampton Model” which is popularly recognized today as Hampton University. The disputes between historically black colleges and universities’ ideologies on education lasted throughout the reconstruction period. During this period, schools of both views emerged throughout Southern America.

The disputes disappeared in 1890 when Congress passed an act to form public historically black colleges and universities a part of the mechanical and agricultural education system. Since different states had formed these learning institutions using the Hampton Model, the need to create private trade schools for African Americans vanished. And this made state-funded institutions move towards the model of trade schools. 

In the 1890s, most private institutions adopted the approach of liberal arts universally. Some institutions that started as trade schools quickly converted to the curriculum of liberal arts. However, the Hampton model exists to date. Over the years, public historically black colleges and universities in Southern America became financially dependent on state governments that were controlled by the whites. As a result, they would be easily penalized financially if they tried to change the segregated order.

On the other hand, private historically black colleges and universities evolved gradually and became independent of the Caucasian power since they sustained financial help from churches, philanthropies, and alumni. Further, private historically black colleges and universities are closely associated with religious institutions. These attachments helped them network with influential people and spread their agenda. By the mid-twentieth century, private historically black colleges and universities had the power to get into politics and attack the segregation order.

General development of historically black colleges and universities

The historically black colleges and universities that make up the higher education system for blacks have led to numerous social developments over the years. The black school system has rapidly advanced since the early 1800s to provide opportunities to African Americans together with other minorities who were oppressed. 

The liberal arts and trade school models emerged as the major forms of the black institute. Public historically black colleges and universities trained black professionals under the power system of Caucasians. On the other hand, private historically black colleges and universities used donations to challenge major forms of white supremacy and the segregation order.


Historically black colleges and universities have played an important role in the evolution of American education. While they make up for only 3 percent of higher education learning institutions, they have helped 20 percent of all African American graduates get their degrees and impact the world positively. These institutions have welcomed students from different communities with open arms.

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Last Update: June 23, 2022