Are HBCUs Still Relevant?

Essence Sommers 

thHBCUs are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with the mission of meeting the educational needs of black students and other minorities. According to Pew Research, the number of African Americans applying to HBCUs is not as high due to several reasons.

Nowadays receiving a degree online comes with ease, rather than having to go to a college campus. According to the U.S department of Education,  State legislatures have escalated the politics of education by pushing up funding to expand community colleges. On account of this, the demand for HBCUs and its purpose is now seen as no longer relevant. Some embrace the creation of HBCUs, while others believe colleges that serve one race only promote division instead of unity. 

The debate questioning whether HBCUs are still relevant has been ongoing for a few years. For almost two centuries, Historically Black Colleges and Universities have played an important role in the education of African Americans. HBCUs help prepare students for successful futures. Every Institution provides commitment and assurance for students of multiple minorities.

As presented in Thurgood Marshall College Fund website, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne stated, “HBCUs are an integral part of the higher education mosaic in the United States. They provide opportunities to some Americans who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend an institution of higher education. At the same time, they face many unique challenges, which is one of the main reasons we formed the HBCU Caucus.” I agree today HBCUs are still offering high-quality education to people of all colors and are important to society just like another institution. 

HBCUs are blazing STEM trails.

The demand for professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, has been on the rise. HBCUs continue to provide an environment where students can gain academic and professional guidance that can help make valuable contributions to society in the future. According to, HBCUs produced 25 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields earned by African Americans in 2012. In 2014, black women represented the highest percentage of minority women who earned bachelor’s degrees in computer sciences.

Spelman College is the second-largest school in the country that sends undergraduate black students to medical school. At Florida A&M University, more than 50% of students major in STEM programs. Hampton University was awarded a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to enhance its research facilities and STEM programs. As the nation is working on becoming more diverse, it will be vital to prepare more people from different minorities for those occupations. 

Racisms still exist at Predominately White Institutions (PWI’s)

HBCUs were established for people of color can have the opportunity to attend a college and receive an education when they were denied it in the past. Many of PWI colleges and universities today have a history of segregation. According to SAGE, Latino students attending PWIs have been stereotyped as ‘under-qualified’ and ‘lacking intelligence’, and have been made to feel unwanted in these environments. Studies indicates that there has been an increase of incidents targeting students of color. When you step into college usually there are no parents to go home to at the end of the day. Researchers say that discrimination at colleges and universities can have negative impacts on black students’ mental health. College is supposed to be a place where you really find yourself before entering the real world. For minority students, dealing with typical college student obstacles, plus racism and stereotypes it may require a different resolve.


 The Status quo is Being Threatened 

The African American influence has been just as big a part of shaping this country as any white American has. For many centuries there have been buildings, restrooms, and restaurants that were made for whites only. Whites tend to feel threatened and segregated and believe that it is unfair that African Americans have their college. When in retrospect HBCUs provide an environment not only for black students to prosper, but for many other minorities in society.

Throughout history, the white man enslaved people of color, stripped them of their dignity, and made them feel inferior in society. Lately, over the years thousands of people at HBCUs have done predominantly well. Despite the college you attend it’s what you do afterwards that has the biggest influence on your future. 


Every school has its negatives and positives, no school is perfect. Although HBCUs have some diversity, you are mostly surrounded by people that look like you. If you are a person of color attending an HBCU this could be very appealing. However that can lead to a disadvantage. The danger from that is when we go out in the workforce and the real world we are competing against other people born with different ethnicities and backgrounds. This can make it difficult for a person to adjust if they don’t know what it’s like working with people of other ethnic groups.

The sum of it all is, in the world we live in today people have the option to choose any college or University to their liking. So why should we take that option away from people? Historically Black Colleges and Universities have a culture like no other. Just like all colleges HBCUs provide a great educational experience to those who attend. These colleges do not exclude anyone from attending and welcome all. HBCUs have impacted the lives of many students and continue to do so. Continuing HBCUs is not an issue of segregation or race, it is a matter of historical importance.

Categories: Education, Opinion

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