Role Of Hbcus On Civil Rights Movement

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Role Historical Black Colleges and Universities of on Civil Rights Movement

Role of Historical Black Colleges and Universities on Civil Rights Movement


HBCUs were founded and organized in a socially antagonistic and hostile environment. Historically, HBCUs have served a unique group of students that have experienced severe educational, legal, political, economic and social restrictions (Thompson, 2003). Moreover, these institutions were created to prepare Black youth for leadership positions and professions in the community. A total of 280,000 students were enrolled in HBCUs in 1994. There was a 26% increase in enrollment experienced by HBCUs between the years of 1976 and 1994. This 26% increase is slightly lower than the overall 30% increase that occurred for all higher educational institutions (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1996).

For an institution to qualify as an HBCU, the facility must have been established before 1964. There were 109 HBCUs in America in 1993 (Roebuck & Murty, 1993). However, due to some HBCUs losing their accreditations, today there are 105 HBCUs. These institutions can confer bachelors' degrees or operate as community colleges and are legally authorized by the state in which they are located. As with all institutions, HBCU s must meet all the standards and criteria established by five nationally recognized accrediting agencies (Rafky, 2002).

In 1997, Florida A & M University (an HBCU) was selected as the Time Magazine/Princeton Review 1997-98 College of the Year. Editors cited innovative programs, rising enrollment, surging SAT scores and the recruitment of National Achievement Scholars as the reason for the selection. Also, Black Issues in Higher Education featured Florida A & M University as the number one producer of African American baccalaureates. Nearly 1,900 baccalaureate degrees were conferred at Florida A & M during 1997-98 school year (Maxwell, 2003).

Over the past four decades African American college students have been more in the spotlight than any other American students. This is because they are not just college students; they are a cutting edge in America's effort to integrate itself in the thirty-seven years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act. These students have borne much of the burden for our national experiment in racial integration, and to a significant degree, the success of the experiment will be determined by their success (Payne, 1994).

According to Baker (1989), the second Morrill Act of August 30, 1890, stated that universities should either admit Blacks to existing colleges or provide separate but equal educational facilities for Blacks. Most southern and Border States chose the "separate but equal" clauses in the second Morrill Act. Between 1890 and 1907, one public Black college was built per year in each of the 17 Southern states. They were never equal then, or now, and the HBCUs did not offer bachelor's degrees.

In addition, Baker (1989) lists three reasons as an explanation as to why HBCUs were created by the Southern states:

To access millions of dollars in federal funds for the development of White land-grant ...
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