I wanted to actually go to Spelman College because I had heard it mentioned on the Cosby Show. There are 101 HBCU’s that make up this system. These schools were founded by grit, grace and faith. Some are being sustained the same way. Of course we all know the big three: Morehouse, Howard and Spelman. But there are literally 98 more schools! My father’s best friend went to one: Maharry College in Nashville, TN.
Earlier this month, there was a campaign to save Bennett College, a women’s HBCU in Greensboro, NC; they almost lost accreditation. You would think with the resurgence of all things Black, HBCUs would be at the top of the list for preservation and support. There is no reason for any HBCU to decide to keep its doors open! I am reminded of Mary McCleod Bethune, the founder of what is now Bethune-Cookman College, keeping the institution open with God and sweet potato pies! However, should we as a people not be moving past this mentality? When did we stop valuing education? When?!
From the Jubliee Singers at Fisk; Morehouse College in Atlanta–that used money from the novelist Margaret Mitchell (Yes, that Maragaret Mitchell who wrote Gone With The Wind) to help young Black Morehouse students under the tenure of President Benjamin Mays; to Phylicia Ayers (now known as Phylicia Rashad), Toni Morrison, and Chadwick Boseman from Howard, HBCU’s are thriving hubs for Blackness and Black culture. They are places that are distinctly ours, even if you aren’t an alumni.
We as a people have to understand what legacy is and how it is maintained. No HBCU should be on the cusp of closing it’s doors! Most universities are sustained by the federal government, surrounding communities and the alumni. There are more schools to consider giving help and light to! Sandra Bland went to Prairie View A&M. Lincoln University is in Missouri and is a great school. Jackson State University. Tuskeegee University, where Lionel Richie went!
The legacy of HBCU’s is rich. It is palable, and it is ever as relevant now as when their doors first opened, some a century and more ago. We have to treasure the past, an prepare in the now to have something left for the upcoming generations to follow–and they can’t all go to Howard.
[image from rampage.us]