The Unbreakable HBCU Pride

Pilar Briggs

Over the recent years, it has become a trend for Black high school students to select an HBCU for college. Not only have celebrity HBCU alums helped promote the importance and cultural impact of such colleges and universities to convince Black high school seniors, but also a particular classic television show has been given credit: ‘A Different World’.

‘A Different World’ is a 1980s comedy show based on a fictional HBCU, Hillman College. This 6-season series positively showcased the true culture of an HBCU by depicting real-life situations, fraternity & sorority life, pep teams, college sports teams and social events, such as dances in the popular din. Often, Black female students will talk about wanting a “Dwayne & Whitley” kind of love. When you hear that, it means that they want to meet a great man in college and marry him… like show’s characters Dwayne and Whitley did.

Whitley & Dwayne gets married on ‘A Different World’

From a Black person’s perspective:  when you think of an HBCU, you think of “home away from home”, because you are around other students who look like you, dress like you, have similar cultural traditions as you, loves the same marching band music as you, etc. A Black student would not feel out of place or like a minority.

Speaking of marching bands, HBCUs continue to recruit some of the most talented people to play in the bands. The way that each member carries their notes and do the choreography effortlessly blows the minds. Marching bands are what make HBCU students proud of being at their respective schools. If Delaware State’s band were to have a horrible song selection while performing at a band competition, then our heads would hang low in shame. The uniforms and dancers are also important, because a school’s band should always look good and never trashy, outdated or boring.

On an HBCU’s campus, you will see a basketball court. This is where students display their talents of the game of basketball. This will topically happen during the first two months of Fall semester and the last two months of the Spring semester. Warm weather is a must for outside basketball, so if it’s a warm day during the mainly cold month of February, then they will take advantage of it and shoot some hoops. Also, students gather on the court to socialize with a loud speaker system in the background. At Delaware State, the rare event is called “Court Vibez.”. The event is attended by many and the women students always have on their best outfits. You can never look dull at an HBCU.

Something that ‘A Different World’ showed that helped with picking an HBCU is that Black teachers actually care about students’ education and makes attempts to connect with them on a personal level. It is extremely important to have a Black teacher when being taught African-American history. Only a Black person knows what it’s like to be Black. So, it’s guaranteed that African-American history will not be censored nor omitted.

Dwayne Wayne teaching his calculus class on ‘A Different World’.

HBCU’s have continued to do great things for sports as Jackson State University’s athletic department decided to hire former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders to be head coach of the football team. This hiring brought plenty of attention to Jackson State and HBCUs all around. Football-playing seniors in high school started to play with the idea of going to Jackson State and some even transferred or decommitted from their Predominantly White Institutions. The top two examples are the famous sons of Sanders, Shilo and Shedeur. Shedeur is a high school senior who plays as quarterback for his high school. He was originally committed to Florida Atlantic University, a PWI. However, when his father took the job at JSU, he decided to decommit from Florida Atlantic and officially commit to JSU. Soon after his decision was announced on his social media accounts, his older brother, Shilo, a football player for University of South Carolina, decided to transfer to JSU to be with his brother and father. While the news sparked praises and HBCU pride, there were, of course, backlash on Shedeur’s expression of needing to support HBCUs. “Why the need and want for segregated schools?” (Via Twitter @Thetruthallday1).

(From L-R) Shedeur, Deion and Shilo Sanders pictured on signing day at Jackson State University.

That question and those similar to it are honestly tiring and commonly asked. Another annoying question that gets asked is, “Why an HBCU when you can get a better education at a PWI?”. HBCU students and alum have fiercely fought these ignorant questions by providing examples, facts and statistics to show that their careers would not be what they are, if it wasn’t for an HBCU. Standards for HBCU’s academia are heightened to make sure that students are well-prepared for their careers.

Soon-to-be graduating student Hajara Bakaar talks about her experience at both a PWI, Wesley College and an HBCU, Delaware State University, “For my major, DSU definitely required a more in-depth science background outside of the required kinesiology courses. At Wesley, they only required me to take a math class everyone has to take as a freshman and a chemistry course that was an intro to chemistry that sort of introduced other in-depth chemistry courses. Then, at DSU they had me take trigonometry, chemistry 1 & 2 and biology 1 & 2. If DSU did not require me to take those classes, I definitely wouldn’t have found a full-time job in the science field as quick as I did.”

Although claims that “many HBCUs are less academically rigorous than comparable PWIs” due to there being more “team-building” and less “individual academic achievement” at HBCUs. This does not stop Black students from excelling and making great careers with their HBCU degrees. College is all about what you make it. So, it should not be a big fuss about choosing an HBCU. Be proud of that HBCU degree.

Check out Elwood Robinson’s TED Talk on the importance of HBCUs

Categories: Education, Features, HBCUs

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