Since my previous article covered President Trump’s visit to the National Museum of African American History & Culture, I thought it appropriate to round out our nation’s focus on Black History Month celebrated every February. For this month’s lifeskill, Career/Money Management, let’s linger here awhile with a brief but impactful historical backdrop (part 1) before covering part 2 next week about President Trump’s administration February greeting and getting connected with leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Meeting with Presidents like this have always been part of our nation’s history. Black History Month had its beginnings in 1915, 50 years after our 13th Amendment abolished slavery. According to History Channel, Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent.
ASNLH today is known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). In 1926, the ASALH sponsored a national Negro History week on the 2nd week of February coinciding with Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. Events, history clubs, and performances of all kinds were inspired nationwide in schools and communities. This set the stage for what was to come in the next ninety years of American history in the making.
To gain some perspective about our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), let’s glance a bit at Wikipedia. HBCUs are United States institutions of higher education established before 1964 to primarily serve African Americans, always allowing student admissions of all races. Most HBCUs were created after the Civil War and were in the former slave states with a few exceptions. Today, there are 107 HBCUs in the US, including public and private institutions, community and four-year institutions, medical and law schools. These colleges and universities offer a variety of degrees programs—38 with associate degrees, 83 bachelor’s degrees, 52 master’s level degrees, and 27 doctoral programs.
According to United Negro College Fund (UNCF; Black Colleges Matter, Newsweek Aug 18, 2015), “. . . historically black colleges and universities are responsible for producing approximately 70% of all black doctors and dentists, 50% of black engineers and public school teachers, and 35% of black lawyers.” In 2015, a Gallup poll showed HBCU students had a higher sense of wellbeing in five areas–purpose, social, financial, community, and physical—compared to non-HBCU students. HBCU students were also twice as likely to have “. . . at least one professor who made them excited about learning; having professors who cared about them; having a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals.”
Yet, following the enactment of Civil Rights laws in the 1960s, the ratio of black students to non-black students changed, since black students started enrolling in previously unavailable non-black colleges and universities. Some HBCUs now have non-black majorities. In spite of this welcomed diversity, HBCUs today struggle to remain solvent for a variety of reasons to be covered in part two.
As we watch the comings and goings around President Trump and his administration, let us all work together here at home to gain a more thorough and hopefully unbiased perspective on our nation’s historical events, and how current happenings unfolding may impact us all right here at home. Are you ready? How do you want to contribute a positive, constructive influence in the what, why, when, where, with whom, and how of our nation and communities?
To learn more about the world of HBCUs, I encourage you to visit the links below, and those noted above, to gain a more thorough history and current perspective on the evolving, hopeful, and challenging HBCU happenings ahead. And be sure to check in on part 2 next week, covering President Trump’s administration outreach, such as his HBCU executive order and other surprises.
Let’s learn if his efforts may be simply “photo-ops” or something different and even welcomed. Could it be he is actually building something commendable on the past efforts and dedication of our previous Presidents? See you next week for part 2 with the ongoing “Trump Effect” and our nation’s enduring saga.