HBCU’s – Historically Black Colleges & Universities
From Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman University in Florida, to Grambling State University and Southern University in Louisiana, and lastly Morehouse College (males) and Spelman College (females) in Atlanta, Georgia, the south is home to a long list of HBCUs
North Carolina alone is home to 10 HBCUs, with the institutions primarily located in the Piedmont and Triad areas. Five of the 10 HBCUs in NC are public universities.
Elizabeth City State University (public)
Fayetteville State University (public)
Johnson C. Smith University
North Carolina A&T State University (public)
North Carolina Central University (public)
Saint Augustine’s College
Winston-Salem State University (public)
There is no shortage of successful HBCU alums. This link highlights just a few of those.
6 things you might not know about HBCUs
1. They’re not small in number.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are currently 101 HBCUs located across the U.S. Of them, 50 are public institutions, and 51 are private nonprofit institutions. With fifteen under its belt, Alabama is the state with the highest number of historically black higher colleges and universities.
Nine schools call Atlanta home, making it the city with the most HBCUs. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and Lincoln University are the oldest HBCUs in the country, each educating students for over a century and a half.
North Carolina’s Shaw University was the first HBCU established in the South. These schools offer a variety of educational opportunities, including associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs.
2. Their alumni are impressive as heck.
HBCU graduates include civil rights activist and Morehouse College grad Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tuskegee University alumn Lonnie Johnson is a NASA engineer and the inventor of the Super Soaker, which has been among the world’s bestselling toys every year since its release.
Howard University alumni include Nobel Laureate author Toni Morrison and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Colbert King. Lincoln University claims Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes as a former student. Spelman College alumna Rosalind Brewer is the Chief Operating Officer at Starbucks.
Joycelyn Elders, a Philander Smith College graduate, was the first black American appointed as Surgeon General of the United States. And let’s not forget West Virginia State University‘s own Katherine Johnson, whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. spaceflight. In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
3. Their marching band roots go way back.
The concept of the marching band dates back to 13th-century West Africa, specifically the Egun masqueraders of the Yoruba tribe, who would play musical instruments and dance during funeral processions. Other historians highlight black military bands formed during the early Colonial-era who later, took their talents to HBCUs following World War I.
The marching bands that we know and love today got their college football game debut during the Biddle College (now Johnson C. Smith University) and Livingstone College game in December of 1892.
4. They’ve made their mark on pop culture.
Filmmaker and Morehouse College graduate, Spike Lee, directed one of his first major motion pictures, “School Daze,” on the campus of his alma mater, Clark Atlanta University. The 90s hit sitcom, “A Different World,” was based at a fictitious HBCU and addressed many social, political, and economic issues that college students continue to face today.
Canadian rapper, singer, and songwriter, Drake, is known for referencing HBCUs in his songs—and wearing collegiate hoodies and jerseys in his music videos and in public. In the 2002 film, “Drumline,” Nick Cannon portrays a freshman drummer and hopeful member of the fictional Atlanta A&T University marching band.
5. They’re more diverse than you think.
The assumption that HBCUs are only for black students is far from the truth. NCES data indicates that in 2017, non-black students made up 24 percent of enrollment, compared to 15 percent in 1976.
Schools like Alcorn State University have started Educational Equity and Inclusion departments to create an environment where all members of the school community feel empowered to achieve success.
6. Their Greek Shows are a rite of passage.
If you think halftime is only for marching bands, think again. Enter “stepping,” a dance that requires a dancer to use their entire body to produce rhythms and sounds, done mainly through footsteps, spoken word, and handclaps. In addition to drill teams, church choirs, and cheerleading squads, National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) fraternities and sororities have helped make the dance famous by performing it
during “Greek Shows” to celebrate student initiations into Greek life.
The first Greek Show was held at Howard University in 1976 and quickly grew in appeal. Today, countless Greek organizations at HBCUs create new moves to pay tribute to their Greek-letter organizations. Many perform at local and national competitions across the country.
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