Often I, and many HBCU alumni, become shocked when today’s youth often ask, “What is a HBCU?” It becomes quite shocking to us because we grew up with family members who attended HBCUs or were knowledgeable that HBCUs served as the only option for Blacks to receive a Higher Education less than 60 years ago. From this I began to ask myself how is it that today’s youth are so unfamiliar with HBCUs?
I always argue that things are connected through history. Before the Brown v. Board of Education decision (1954) over 90% of Blacks attended HBCUs. Today, however, less than 13% of Blacks attend HBCUs. So how would today’s youth know or become aware of HBCUs when there is such a drastic decrease in the number of Blacks enrolled at HBCUs? Many parents of our current youth sought out the opportunity to attend integrated institutions and the resources available at those institutions. This could possibly have resulted in today’s youth having teachers or mentors that are not HBCU alumni, which also results in the lack of discussion about HBCUs.
From this proposition it becomes even clearer why HBCUs must actively recruit heavily for students in order to create an interest within today’s youth of these institutions. More importantly it makes our responsibility, as alumni, just as notable to discuss with today’s youth about attending a HBCU and why it could be the better possibility for many students in regards to their higher education. The ignorance of today’s youth about HBCUs is not their fault. But when these institutions are introduced to them, a keen interest is created and possible desire to attend. If we, as alumni, do not create discourse about HBCUs with today’s youth, how do we expect them to attend in the future?