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Historically Black Colleges and Universities: What We Know Today

Slavery was banned in the United States in 1865.

Researched, written by Amber & The Team
Updated on July 9, 2023

African American Student

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Slavery was banned in the United States in 1865.

It was then that African Americans officially received freedom.

But along with the beginning of a new life in America, racial segregation also began.

The whites did not want to contact the “free” blacks and tried in every possible way to protect themselves, even from their presence.

They were forbidden to enter cafes where whites dined.

They also could not use the same public toilets and even swim beyond certain places – bathing areas were divided into whites and “coloreds.”

The situation with education looked similar.

Black children could only attend special schools.

In these educational institutions, they did not come into contact with whites.

But freed African Americans needed to improve their skills.

Left without work, they went to work in the cities.

Cheap labor could help the US develop the industry.

To do this, African Americans had to be educated.


Black and white education


So in America, there were universities exclusively for black people.

Most of them were founded in the south with the support of religious missionary organizations.

From the north after the end of the civil war.

But the oldest black universities are the Cheney University of Pennsylvania.

It was called the Institute for Colored Youth. After the war, a university appeared in the south and became the first historically black higher institution in the southern states.

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One of the main goals of black colleges


The goal of black colleges was to improve access to education for African American citizens.

It included educational institutions such as:

  • Lincoln Universities;
  • Howard University;
  • Morehouse College;
  • Spellman College.

They became the intellectual centers of US African Americans.

For generations, they prepared black doctors, lawyers, and members of other professions.

It’s important to note that students took an active part in the sit-ins.

They also protested against racial inequality.

They helped spread the civil rights movement throughout the country.


Facts about Historically Black Colleges and Universities


In recent years, the student body of many HBCUs has become more diverse.

It included representatives of various races and nationalities.

Some universities and colleges are now also accepting international students.

They also have study programs at Spellman College in Atlanta and Howard University in Washington.

As part of a joint American-Brazilian program in 2013, about a thousand students from Brazil studied at historic African American colleges and universities in the United States.

Many of these educational HBCU institutions highly value the international aspects of the educational process.

American students consider their presence an advantage – they understand that a “global” education allows them to prepare for work.

It may also include work abroad, where there might be cultural conditions opposite to those that have developed in their country.


Sport instead of science


The level of teaching in the new universities was low.

The humanities and exact sciences lagged, and direct attention was paid to agricultural subjects.

But students of historically black universities spent a lot of attention on sports.

In the 20s and 30s of the XX century, many famous athletes were “discovered” in such colleges.

The management hired special coaches, opened sports fields, and even created leagues.


Modern segregation


By the end of the 20th century, the situation in the United States had changed somewhat.

Historically, black universities still have primarily black students but accept white students as well.

African Americans can also graduate from traditional universities.

But some researchers believe that racial segregation still manifests itself in education – they see disdain for black people for the few awards given to African Americans.


Governmental support


Government funding has increased in recent years.

The Obama administration set a six-year record in 2016 by increasing HBCU support by $17 million through the Higher Education Act.

According to US Department of Education records, the Trump administration has provided the most funding to historically black colleges and universities in the nation’s history.

It was done for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies.




Black universities and colleges were founded in America.

There, African Americans were trained in professions to be full members of society.

At the moment, mostly African Americans continue to study there.

Initially, the level of teaching was low, but now in the modern world, this has changed.

The main goal of these educational institutions is to improve access to education.

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