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Are HBCUs Still Relevant?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities were first created because African-Americans were not permitted to attend white colleges. With resilient spirits, we made our own way. Over time, schools like Hampton University, Tuskegee, and Howard were built. They were the safe havens that churned out black doctors, lawyers, and educators. They became essential to the history and growth of the black community.

Flash forward to present day. The year is 2018. African-Americans can attend the most prestigious PWIs (Predominately White Institutions) including Yale, Princeton, and Harvard. Are HBCUs still relevant?

Yes. Here are five reasons why.  

1. Being allowed to attend is not the same thing as being welcome, being accepted, or being treated fairly.

Just because black people can attend PWIs that does not mean we are welcome there. Often, schools are just trying to fill quotas, build a better sports team, or make their school appear diverse. This is why at PWIs the football or men’s basketball team will be black when the student body is almost entirely white. The Journal of Negro Education put it simply, “[the schools] thrive on and exploit the athletic talents of African-American male student athletes for the benefit of the institution and its national exposure, rather than equally preparing them academically.” Not only do they benefit the school’s team, but they also help fill a quota.

Moreover, if a university can say they have a certain number of black students, they appear more accepting and more diverse to prospective students. It is possible that a PWI loves everything you can give them, and your skin is just tolerated.

2. Racism is alive and well.

People used to say that racism was dead until we had to scream Black Lives Matter. Until police brutality was talked about. Until the presidency of Donald Trump gave racists the courage to be loud. With the blatant racism of citizens and of the president himself, it is evident that there are still battles to fight. HBCUs still serve as safe havens for black students to learn and give us the tools to fight racism and discrimination beyond our classrooms.

3. We NEED to celebrate black culture.

When slaves were brought to America against their will, African culture was stripped away from them starting with language. Because of that, we had to create our own culture. We were successful in creating our own way of speaking, our own style of dress, our own music, etc. However, black culture has no motherland. What we have was created here in the United States under oppression and hatred. There is no “black home” to go to to immerse ourselves in our own history. Therefore, HBCUs serve that purpose. There, we freely celebrate ourselves and everything we have created. This is especially important because many African-Americans grew up in predominantly white areas without much exposure to their own cultural identity.

4. There are still hidden figures.

History textbooks aren’t telling the entire truth. We’ve all read about slavery. But what about the African history before slavery? What about those kings and queens? We’ve all read about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks who are extremely important individuals. But what about Garrett Morgan who created the the traffic light and the gas mask? What about Patricia Bath who created laser cataract surgery? Why are the most important figures in history classes still white men? HBCUs are relevant because they are some of the only schools that emphasize black history and tell it like it really happened.

5. HBCUs are making a difference.

The impact of HBCUs is extremely significant. Hbcurising.com states the facts —

“40% of African-American members of Congress, 50% of African-American lawyers, and 80% of African-American judges graduated from an HBCU.”

“Nine of the top ten colleges that graduate the majority of African American students who go on to earn PhDs are HBCUs.”


HBCUs are still relevant and they always will be.

— A proud Hamptonian



Byrd, D., Butler, B., Lewis, C., Bonner, F., Rutledge, M., and Watson, J. (2011).

Identifying new sources of African American male pre-service teachers: Creating

a path from student-athlete to student-teacher. Journal of Negro Education,

80(3), 384-397


Cassie Herring

Hampton U '21

Cassie Herring is a graduating Senior English major from Woodbridge, Virginia. She is the current Senior Editor of Hampton University's HC Chapter. She is also a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and Co-President of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. In her free time, she can be found writing poetry or listening to R&B. In the future, Cassie plans to earn her PhD and teach the collegiate level to empower the next generation of leaders.
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Ania Cotton

Hampton U '18

Ania is a charismatic, outgoing, fun loving individual with aspirations of owning her own public relations firm. Her favorite shows are Spongebob, Regular Show, and Bob's Burgers, and she loves to eat. Ania graduated from Hampton University in May 2018 with her Bachelors of Arts in Strategic Communications with a minor in Spanish. Ania loves to talk and give advice to her friends and family; the motto that she lives by is to always be a blessing to others because you never know who may need it. To learn more about her, visit her website at www.anianicole.com.