During my research and discussions about my research, I am often asked the question of “should HBCUs still exist?” Yes. shockingly, as a graduate of an HBCU, initially I found it quite difficult to understand why anyone would question the existence of our institutions. I wondered if they were ignorant of the fact that although HBCUs account for only 2% of postsecondary education, they are ultimately responsible for producing over 20% of African American graduates. Although HBCUs access and financial resources may not be equal to PWIs across the board, research has shown that students learn more if not the same as their counterparts at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) in spite of these inequalities.
But still there’s this question of whether HBCUs should exist? Although I may have ill feelings towards this question it is one that should be asked. Through demonstrating the importance of our existence through our historical achievements and student academic gains we strongly support the existence of HBCUs. Below are examples of how people have questioned the existence of HBCUs:
- Brown vs Board of Education allowed African American admissions into PWIs; as a result, enrollment at HBCUs decreased and HBCU enrollment has not increased since.
- The better and brighter African American students and faculty attend PWIs (I beg to differ)
- HBCU graduation rates at HBCUs are sub-par (Yes…but we must IMPROVE THEM!)
- The federal government should not support HBCUs due to their diversity efforts at PWIs; thus seeming contradictory.
Yes, these are the arguments being made on the existence of HBCUs. I believe that some are valid and others invalid. However, my overall goal is to support the argument that HBCUs should exist because they serve a population of students that otherwise would not be afforded an opportunity to higher education. In doing so I ask you to ask more questions about HBCUs existence! Ask others outside of the “HBCU World” why should we continue to exist? What can occur within our institutions to improve our graduation rates and financial attainments? More importantly, what can we do to better ourselves as Alumni? Through these discussions we are better able to educate others about HBCUs and prove our existence.