Recently I read an article on the Huffington Post website about the relevance of HBCUs in the 21st century. Why, in a supposed post racial society, are HBCUs still necessary?
HBCUs still exist for more than financial reasons; HBCUs are living history and a testament to the power of faith and perseverance. Universities, like Morehouse and Lincoln, have historically produced great leaders and thinkers, like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall. These schools have also been played important roles in history. For example, the Hosanna Church on Lincoln’s campus was a stop on the historic Underground Railroad. Additionally, many famous people came to speak at the church, including abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.
HBCUs help to teach students about their history and play an important role in shaping many of the future leaders of the country. If students learn their history, the people they come from and the great history they are a product of, they will aspire toward a better future. When students are better able to understand their history, they are better able to prepare to become global citizens and are more aware of social issues.
African American students need role models and not just the ones splashed across the pages of tabloid magazines and music videos. Instead of idolizing Nicky Minaj or Kanye West, HBCU students learn to idolize Langston Hughes, Horace Mann Bond, and various other great leaders and thinkers that Lincoln has produced. Instead of chasing after the wealth that rappers and athletes offer, HBCU students will yearn for knowledge, pride, and a legacy for future generations to follow.
So, there should never be a question of why HBCUs are relevant, but why their relevance is important in the 21st century. They have and will continue to inspire, uplift, and empower African American students for centuries to come.