Beyonce’ and HBCUs

On April 14, 2018, Beyonce’ performed at Coachella to honor the Homecoming Weekend Experience at HBCUs. From the band, dancers, and Greek inspired fashion, she illuminated the rich culture of HBCUs.

But why Coachella? Some refer to Coachella as the modern day “Woodstock” where the audience is predominantly White and ticket prices start at $429 per person. Beyonce’ is the first Black female to headline the festival.

However, Beyoncé’s mother, Ms. Tina Lawson, shared her hesitation regarding the HBCU inspired performance. She felt the audience would be confused but, Beyoncé had a larger vision in mind. Beyonce’ hoped to teach and inspire people of all colors about the RICH culture and history at HBCUs. And she did!

Beyoncé’s father Matthew Knowles is an alum of Fisk University, where I would assume the Queen B had her first interaction with an HBCU. Whether her father shared stories of his Fisk days or attended a homecoming with his daughter, the HBCU blood runs through Beyoncé and is why she’s given back to our institutions.

Since this epic performance, Beyonce’ announced her Homecoming Scholars Award Program ( which awards four $25,000 scholarships to a student at Xavier University, Wilberforce University, Tuskegee University and Bethune-Cookman University. Additionally, in 2017 Beyonce’ created the Formation Scholars ( which awards four scholarships to female students pursuing studies in creative arts, music, literature or African-American studies at participating schools including Howard University and Spelman College.

After this historical moment we want to know what you think about Beyoncé’s influence on HBCUs. Please click the link below and complete the survey. It will only take 2-3 minutes to complete.

Survey Beyoncé and HBCU

Thank you for your responses and following us at State of HBCUs.

Hampton vs. Howard: More Than Just a Game – Historic Photos

In just a few short hours two of our nation’s most historic HBCUs face off in the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic to determine who in fact is the real HU. Hampton University and Howard University were founded shortly after the Civil War and for well over a century continues to set a standard in educating young people all over the world.

The Nation’s Classic will showcase the talents of these two institutions both on and off the field. Be sure to catch the Presidential Symposium: An Exploration of Community and Police Relations, “The Game Before the Game: Student Debate Hampton vs. Howard” and the HBCU College and Career Fair with the Congressional Black College Foundation.

While you are enjoying the many festivities, be sure to look at some amazing photos of Hampton and Howard’s football team over the years!

Howard football team - 1946

Howard football team – 1946


Hampton vs. Howard 1915 game. Original photo from the Crisis Magazine

Hampton vs. Howard 1915 game. Original photo from the Crisis Magazine

Hampton Institute Football Team 1900. Hampton welcomed students from all over the world. This was one of the most diverse teams in the nation, including Native Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans

Hampton Institute Football Team 1900. Hampton welcomed students from all over the world. This was one of the most diverse teams in the nation, including Native Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans

Hampton - 1921

Hampton – 1921

Of Ida B. Wells, Respectability Politics and the Journey Ahead


Years ago, the courageous journalist, suffragist, and anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells was born on this day. Educated at Fisk, Wells served as co-owner and editor of the Black newspaper, The Free Speech and Headlight. She used her platform to condemn state sanctioned violence, disfranchisement, educational inequality and challenged assumptions and definitions of manhood.

Although the outspoken activists died in 1931, her work and words continue to have value in today’s social and political context. Whether in St. Louis, Baltimore, South Carolina or Texas, African Americans continue to face extra judicial killings while those charged with maintaining peace and order face little to no recourse for their [illegal] actions.

As Wells began her anti-lynching movement, her newspaper office was destroyed by a white mob and threatened to kill her if she returned. So she did what many African Americans would eventually do after her – she packed up and went North. In Chicago she began writing for a Black run newspaper called the New York Age and continued to be a strong voice for equality, suffrage and the franchise.

I have always maintained that Wells’ critique of Black male leaders, particularly of Booker T. Washington deserved closer analysis. In her critique of certain race leaders’ approach to race relations rests a very sophisticated condemnation of structural and institutionalized racism.

In an essay entitled, “Booker T. Washington and his Critics” Wells argued against the notion of respectability politics. Her words should serve as a reminder of the long road ahead.

“Does someone ask a solution of the lynching evil? Mr. Washington says in substance: Give me money to educate the Negro and when he is taught how to work, he will not commit the crime for which lynching is done. Mr. Washington knows when he says this that lynching is not invoked to punish crime but color, and not even industrial education will change that.”

“Again he sets up the dogma that when the race becomes taxpayers, producers of something the white man wants, land-owners, business, etc., the Anglo-Saxon will forget all about color and respect that race’s manhood… It was not the servant or working class of Negroes, who know their places, with whom the white people objected to riding, but the educated, property-owning Negro who thought himself the white man’s equal.”

So regardless if you are a 17 year-old Black male armed with skittles and iced-tea or a 28-year old member of a prominent Sorority headed to a dream job at your alma mater, respectability politics will not save you.

Five Tips to Surviving Freshman Year

Congrats frosh, you are now entering into one of the most exciting times of your life as a first year college student. The next four or five years will afford you the space to figure out who you want to be all while gaining a formal education. You will party, laugh, cry, cram, and ultimately experience some of the best years of your life. Here are our five tips for surviving your first year in college.

  1. The Library Is Your Friend- Time Management


William Harvey Library on the campus of Hampton University

William Harvey Library on the campus of Hampton University

The biggest factor between failure and success for any college student is time management. Managing time is difficult for the average person. Factor in parties, new friends, a new environment; challenging classes and it becomes almost impossible to properly navigate this age-old paradox. However, those who are able to strike the right balance between social life and book life will find success.

Take it from someone who went from academic probation to graduating with honors, the first step is in setting priorities. There are twenty-four hours in a day. The average person may effectively use five to eight of them. Try spending an hour a day per class studying, doing homework, or reading. Find the library! Albert Einstein once said, “The only thing you have to know is the location of the library.” Get all your work out the way during the day so you can free up the late afternoon and nights for yourself. Lastly, invest in an agenda book or an app where you can track your daily progress, assignments, and goals for the day. Remember, we have “Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it!”

  1. Your Dorm Room Is For Sleep- Get Involved



In order to enjoy college life to the fullest you have to get out of your dorm! Don’t get me wrong, you will meet some close friends and have memorable moments goofing off in your dorm. However, I have seen many persons skip event after event, locking themselves in their dorms barely escaping to attend class.

Explore your new environment. Do not be afraid to meet new people. Remember, you are not the only newbie. With the exception of those having prior relationships or having met in pre-college, everybody is new! It is essential that you get involved in clubs, organizations, student leadership or government programs, etc. Joining clubs gives you the best opportunity to meet other people with similar interests as you. It will also help alleviate anxieties while helping to build your resume.

  1. It’s Ok To Be Yourself

Quite possibly the most important piece of advice. There is only one you and nobody can be better at being you than you! It is easy for people to try to recreate themselves upon entering college. Which in some instances is fine. We all must grow and evolve, that is what college is about. However, wearing a false mask is wack and detrimental to true positive growth. “Know thyself.”

  1. Take an African American History Course
They Came Before Columbus

They Came Before Columbus

Maybe I am a little biased here, but this is essential! African American history IS American history. It is also the history of a people’s struggle to overcome. Unfortunately, many high school curriculums have altogether failed and or stopped teaching Black history courses. This will be the first (and possibly the only) time many of you will have the opportunity to celebrate and learn the rich cultural, social, and political history of African Americans. This is essential to our previous point about being yourself. No matter your major, African American history courses help us all to better understand where we came from and where we are going.

  1. Get Politically Involved
Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee

Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee

Be reminded that students such as Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, Charles McDrew, Marion Barry, John Lewis, Julian Bond used politics to spark a Movement. These students recognized their social, political, and economic conditions and used (or fought against) the political system to change it.

Make a difference in your local community. When I was in undergrad, I was able to host voter registration drives, voter awareness programs, and put pressure on our local congressmen to enact change. If you are not registered to vote this should be among the first actions you take. Familiarize yourself with your local councilmembers and congressmen. Lastly, take a stand against something and leave a legacy bigger than yourself. You see what’s happening in Ferguson, don’t be afraid to speak up!

Interning with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

This summer I was afforded the opportunity to in06092014 - HBCU Staff Photostern with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHI-HBCU). The WHI-HBCU was established in 1980 under Executive Order 12232 signed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter “…to overcome the effects of discriminatory treatment and to strengthen and expand the capacity of historically black colleges and universities to provide quality education.” Each U.S. President following Carter renewed and strengthened the Executive Order on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by establishing the President’s Board of Advisors and increasing private sector involvement among this group of institutions. In 2010 President Obama signed Executive Order 13532 to highlight Excellence Innovation and Sustainability of HBCUs, using partnerships with federal agencies and departments. It also emphasized the importance of public and private sector partnerships to sustain the important work of HBCUs. Additionally the Executive Order requires submission of annual reports with the purpose of informing the President and Secretary of the WHI-HBCU participation in appropriate federal programs and initiatives. Today the WHI-HBCU is housed within the Department of Education in the Office of the Under Secretary and continues to serve as a liaison between HBCUs, federal agencies, and the private sector.

Primary Responsibilities

This summer my primary responsibility entailed completing the WHI-HBCU 2013 Fiscal Report. In order to complete the report, I compiled each federal agency’s fiscal contributions into a master spreadsheet. Each agency’s contribution was organized by HBCU in the following categories: research and development, training, direct institutional subsidies, facilities and equipment, student financial assistance, fellowships, third-party awards, administrative infrastructure, program evaluation, economic development, and other. After organizing this information by agency I thought it beneficial to create a PivotTable for further analyses and graphs by agency, category, and institution.


Throughout my internship there were various federal agency stakeholders who provided insight to complete the WHI-HBCU 2013 fiscal report. It required meeting with senior officials within WHI-HBCU office because they communicate with each federal agency’s representative. Throughout the year each senior official and agency representative discuss contributions (monetary and non-monetary) to HBCUs and its purpose. The primary mechanism for engagement and funding to HBCUs include competitive grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts. The report also provides acknowledgement of indirect support that may come from paid internships for HBCU students or provide training for faculty. I communicated with the HBCU senior staff of any problems and they followed-up with the corresponding federal agency representative.


While completing the 2013 Annual Report I overcame unexpected barriers. At the end of my internship only 20 of the 34 federal agencies submitted their fiscal reports. Therefore the final contributions in the 2013 report are inconsistent with the final totals from previous annual reports.

Additional Projects

Additionally I worked with the Executive and Associate Director, other staff, and interns on various projects like the WHI-HBCU annual conference. The WHI-HBCU 2014 Conference planning was an ongoing project where input was requested for conference speakers and topics. To assist I researched scholars in the field of higher education with interests on college retention, student financial aid, LGBTQ, and the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Then at our weekly team meetings we discussed the proposed speakers and topics. This experience allowed me the opportunity to use my knowledge of scholars in the field of higher education, federal agency staff and other stakeholders and place them in a practitioner role of relaying their research to HBCU presidents, administrators, and staff.

I also compiled a spreadsheet highlighting the risks and assets of HBCUs to inform the WHI-HBCU of our schools in jeopardy of losing Title IV funding and those making significant gains in other areas. For example the spreadsheet included HBCUs enrollment, percentage of Pell eligible students, accreditation, graduation, retention, and cohort default rates. All of these indicators create an additional lens for the WHI-HBCU to assess our institutions in a federal advocacy role.

Alignment with Career Goals

Prior to beginning this internship, I was unsure of my responsibilities. While compiling the 2013 annual report, I learned a lot about how federal agencies support HBCUs. As a HBCU advocate, my personal goal is to learn as much as possible about HBCUs and their funding. Completing this report illustrates how the federal government supports HBCUs through legislation and partnerships with agencies. It provides me an outlook of support from federal agencies and their role in sustaining this group of institutions.

Similarly this position directly aligns with my former experience as a Research Fellow at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), where I advocated on behalf of private HBCUs. As a result both of these experiences and my research interests, mold my professional identify as a higher education researcher/policy analyst with a primary interest on HBCUs. My experiences provide me tools and resources to work with federal agencies and continue their contributions to HBCUs. This is extremely important because HBCUs receive the majority of their financial contributions from the federal government, with the Department of Education taking the lead. This all strengthens my platform as an advocate on behalf of HBCUs because I will eventually be able to communicate with primary contributors and reinforce these relationship for years to come. Additionally this experience builds my knowledge base and broadens my network of HBCU advocates and individuals from various offices within the Department of Education.

Final Thoughts

My experience left me with the following thoughts. Although HBCUs account for only 3% of Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) they only receive 3% of all federal contributions. Although issues with the WHI-HBCU 2013 remain to be addressed I believe the report is extremely valuable. It allows the WHI-HBCU staff to frame discussions with agency representatives about their contributions and brainstorm ways to increase funding.

Thank you to the WHI-HBCU staff including Dr. George Cooper, Dr. Ivory Toldson, Ron Blakely, Meldon Hollis, Sedika Franklin, and Elyse Jones for an amazing opportunity.

After final edits and approvals the WHI-HBCU 2013 Fiscal report will be available, but until then take a look at the previous reports at

GRAND OPENING of the Center for Minority Serving Institutions


Students from underrepresented populations face mounting barriers in obtaining access and completing postsecondary education. While myriad factors such as class and geographical environment certainly affect educational opportunities, the study of race and ethnicity remains vital to combating racial inequalities in higher education.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs) are institutional lifelines for underserved students seeking higher education. The creation of these institutions emerged at a time when majority institutions refused admission or failed to provide inclusive policies to such students.

Today, these institutions serve as a tool to strengthen minority student voices, in conjunction with producing college graduates, professionals, uplifting minority serving communities, and inspiring others to continue in their traditions. These institutions continue to play a vital role, enrolling approximately 3.6 million (20%) of the undergraduate population.

ImageSource: Center for Minority-Serving Institutions, 2013

Today, January 21, 2014, marks an important milestone as the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education opens the Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSIs). Under the direction of Dr. Marybeth Gasman, CMSI strengthens the voice of underrepresented students at these institutions through research and student engagement. It seeks to serve students, faculty, administrators, and scholars in optimizing the uniqueness and resources of this diverse population. More important, CMSI provides implications for teaching, fostering community, and increasing racial diversity for any institution of higher education.

We invite you to take a look at CMSI’s website (, and take part in this community. You may become an instrument to broadcast these students’ voices.

Now Presenting: The Hamptonian Collection


Just in time for homecoming season, fellow Hamptonians Themba Nelson and Matthew Moses are pleased to announce the offficial launch of The Hamptonian Collection. Dig the scoop below:

Hampton University has recently approved a new apparel line. The Hamptonian Collection, while in its infancy, embraces Hampton’s traditions and employs many designs that will reflect the school’s smaller sports programs that include sailing, tennis, lacrosse, equestrian and aviation. 

The collection is not specifically designed to bring light to these teams but to present a new approach to campus paraphernalia. The school’s current offerings feel more like spirit-wear.  Hamptonian’s goal is to brand the Hampton spirit in a manor that extends far beyond the physical “Home by the sea.” The garments are designed to be worn in everyday wardrobe selections, not only at football games. 

The creators didn’t just make a few graphic Tshirts, they wanted to create a line that felt truly authentic. They researched old Hampton yearbooks, poured through archives and found artifacts that are as old as many of the traditions that exist on the campus today. The result is a collection that borrows from a cross section of musical, athletic, and cultural influences. The first piece was released September 15, 2013 and features a 1970’s era African American Pirate sketch, the University’s name and its founding year. 

The heather gray sweater is available now online at

7 Books Every HBCUs Student Should Read

I will never forget the first time I used the “T” word in one of my history classes.  Now, before I go on to explain what the “T” word is, if you have graduated from a HBCU and taken any course in African American history, you should already be familiar with the term.  In fact, you would know that the use of words such as “tribe,” “village,” “Indian,” or other westernized phraseologies that undermine African cultural sensibilities are strictly prohibited.

Across many HBCU departments, students are taught to respect and appreciate culture, society, and the political and educational contributions of peoples of African descent.  More important, we are reprogrammed to put away western modes of thinking, seeing, and doing, in exchange for developing an ethnocentric lens for which to view and critique the world.

Whether it was Booker T. Washington in the 1890s or Spike Lee and The Cosby’s in the 1990s, the message is still the same: Black is Beautiful. At HBCUs, students are awakened to Black consciousness.  Here are Seven (shout out to the Jewels) books I believe truly awakens the spirit to Black pride.

7. Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery: The Autobiography of Booker T. WashingtonUp From Slavery

6. George G. M. James, Stolen Legacyurl

5. Lawrence Ross Jr., The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororitiesurl-1

4. Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negrourl-2

3. Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Realityurl-3

2. W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folkurl-4

1. Ivan Van Sertima, They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient Americabeforecolumbus
What books would you add to the list?


Heart and Soul of the Movement: Influence of Historically Black Colleges and Universities on the Civil Rights Movement


Two nights after peacefully demonstrating for the right to bowl in a segregated Orangeburg, S.C. bowling alley, Robert Lee Davis lay on the blood-filled campus infirmary grasping for life.  Years later he recalled, “The sky lit up.  Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! And students were hollering, yelling and running. I went into a slope near the front end of the campus, and I kneeled down.  I got up to run, and I took one step that’s all I can remember.  I got hit in the back.” Davis was one of the fortunate survivors that night, now remembered as the Orangeburg Massacre, which took place on February 8, 1968 on the campus of South Carolina State University.  Twenty-seven other students shot that night survived. Three students including, Sam Hammond, Delano Middleton, and Henry Smith did not.  These students gave their lives for the movement.  Undoubtedly, the legacy of students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is intrinsically linked to the success of the Civil Rights Movement.

Civil Rights Organizations. an outgrowth of sit-in movement had origins in conference at Shaw University. Apr 15-17, 1960

Civil Rights Organizations. an outgrowth of sit-in movement had origins in conference at Shaw University. Apr 15-17, 1960

On April 15, 1960, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed a crowd of over 200 students on the campus of Shaw University.  Speaking at the founding conference of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), King concluded, “The youth must take the freedom struggle into every community in the South without exception.” By 1960, young Black students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) operated as navigators of the rising tide of vast social and political change sweeping the nation. Although the juxtaposition of HBCUs into the Civil Rights narrative is complex, fluid, and understated, such institutions undoubtedly constituted the heart and soul of the Movement.

HBCUs served as institutions of solidarity.  Dorm rooms were transformed into meeting locations; quads became rallying centers, chapel basements transformed into training grounds for non-violent protests, and campuses banded together creating an intricate system of social networks.  Moreover, these institutions served as breeding grounds for the surfacing generation of Black leaders.


Students attending HBCUs such as King, Morehouse College, c/o 1948; Diane Nash, Fisk University, (entered fall 1959, received an honorary degree 2009); and Stokely Carmichael, Howard University, c/o 1964, emerged as key fixtures within the movement.

Preceded by his father and maternal grandfather, King’s entrance into Morehouse as a fifteen year old teenager, signaled the third generation of Kings to attend the school.  Of his Morehouse experience King recalled, “As soon as I entered college, I started working with the organizations that were trying to make racial justice a reality.”  High academic expectations and personal relationships also influenced King.  There he was introduced to Henry David Thoreau’s essay on “Civil Disobedience.”  He also forged lasting relationships with prominent leaders such as professor of philosophy and religion, George Kelsey, and Morehouse President, Benjamin Mays.  King’s Morehouse experiences brought him face to face with pressing social issues of the day where he “felt a sense of responsibility,” one which he “could not escape.”

Further north in Washington, D. C. students at Howard University continued to make their voices heard.  Out of the tradition of Ray Logan, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Thurgood Marshall, emerged a new group of students interested in creating new methods of combating Jim Crow.  It was an environment ripe for innovation, intellectual curiosity and social antagonism.  It was here where King, amongst many other students, heard President Mordecai Johnson lecture on civil disobedience and Gandhi.  A few years later in 1960, a young Trinidadian named Stokely Carmichael moved into Howard University’s Drew Hall.

Stokely Carmichael sporting a Howard Athletics sweatshirt.

Stokely Carmichael sporting a Howard Athletics sweatshirt.

At Howard, Stokely joined a diverse student body, which included foreign students from Africa and the Caribbean.  As a student, Stokely fell under the tutelage of esteemed scholars such as Toni Morrison and Sterling Brown.  His days at Howard were filled with activism and intellectual exchange.  Many of his peers spent countless nights at his Euclid street apartment formulating the blueprint for combating inequality.  Before graduation in 1964, Stokely joined the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), the Howard branch of the SNCC, and marched with a host of leaders including the likes of Bayard Rustin.

Stokely, like many of his peers, refused to conform to the social stigmata which required them to be “nice, neat, clean, honest, and polite.”  According to Stokely, students felt propelled as they “grew more confident in our organizing skills, that we students could organize effective pressure inside the nation’s capitol, in international forums, and before the world media, to ensure that the U.S. government met its obligations to black education.”

Stokely recalled, “There can be no question as to the importance of the Howard experience in my formative life, but by far the most important element of that experience—morally, politically, culturally, and even emotionally—was the movement.

In similar fashion to Howard students, students across the nation at HBCUs were having much success organizing.  Still, not all schools were able to keep pace with more progressive schools such as Howard and Shaw.  State-dependent Southern HBCUs, beholden to state funds, and attempting to maintain a respectable image blacklisted would-be student activists.  Felton Clarke, President of Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for example, expelled roughly fifty student activists including H. “Rap” Brown.  Undeterred, Brown persisted in his efforts, joining Stokely and others in D.C. as members of SNCC.

Holistically, the rising tides of student activism at HBCUs were irreversible.  HBCUs from Texas to D.C. with or without support from administration contributed in some extent to the movement.  King recalled, “During the sit-in phase, when a few students were suspended or expelled, more than one college saw the total student body involved in a walkout protest.”  He concluded, “Seldom, if ever, in American history had a student movement engulfed the whole student body of a college.”

The cultural and political space provided by HBCUs casts students together in a way that could sustain growing momentum for the movement.  In this space, they coalesced into a more organized, militant agent of social change.  “I was convinced,” wrote King, “that the student movement that was taking place all over the South in 1960 was one of the most significant developments in the whole civil rights struggle.”

Title: Segregation, Civil Rights

Out of this space emerged SNCC at Shaw University; the February First Movement at North Carolina A&T; and the Nashville Student Movement at Fisk University. King characterized the impact of these moments best: “In 1960 an electrifying movement of Negro students shattered the placid surface of campuses and communities across the South.  The young students of the South, through sit-ins and other demonstrations, gave America a glowing example of disciplined, dignified non-violent action against the system of segregation.”

The Greensboro Four

The Greensboro Four

Check out these additional videos:

For additional reading material check out:

Clayborne Carson, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.

Barbara Ransby, Ella Baker & the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision.