The Role Of Historically Black Colleges And Universities In History

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Some people may say black colleges are an outlet to exclude African Americans from other cultures. Black colleges were created to give African Americans the opportunity of being apart of a community of educated individuals who share the same ethnicity and common tragedies. As well as being in a society where achievements are created and conquered. It provides unique opportunities and a domain created to uplift the African American community. A historically black college or university (HBCU) establishes security and a stable environment where one can learn about their culture amidst a world where discrimination still lingers.

Even though some people may say black colleges are an outlet to exclude African Americans from other cultures. My thoughts are its hypocritical seeing that African Americans have been excluded for decades, HBCUs are our way of being a part of something everlasting and fundamental, leaving behind greatness and privileges. Something to be honored for, which was not so easy to obtain back then. Black colleges were created to give African Americans the opportunity of being a part of a community of educated individuals who share the same race and common tragedies.

As well as being in a society were achievements are made. Because for many decades African Americans were not allowed to attend White institutions or read a book for that matter. They were even deprived of obtaining equal protection promised by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. During the 1960s there was an act implemented after it was against the law for a slave obtain an education in the same vicinity as Whites.

Luckily the fight to end segregation did not stop there. Bringing me to Brown v. Board of Education. This particular case fought to abolish segregation in public schools. Before reaching the Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the school board to keep segregation. When the case reached the Supreme Court in 1952 it was argued that the separation amongst whites and blacks violated the 14th Amendment and had the ability to give a black student the mentality of being inferior to white students.

After great deliberation, no verdict was made. Leaving the court with no other choice but to intervene on a late date December 1953. In all desegregation was put into action and approved during May of 1955. After the death of the previous judge and numerous deliberations. Before this law, African Americans did not receive the same protection of the laws within the 14th Amendment as the Whites did. It’s believed that segregation causes African Americans to receive an education that does not hold the same caliber as the ones bestowed on Whites. There were many cases implemented after the wrongdoing of African Americans when applying to predominately White institutions.

First, there was the Murray v. Maryland (1936) case that began after Donald Murray attempted to enroll to the University of Maryland School of Law when his application was denied based on the color of his skin. After receiving legal representation from Thurgood Marshall, the trial resulted in their favor and Donald Murray was able to attend the University of Maryland where he later graduated. Second, is Missouri ex rel v. Canada (1938) here Lloyd Gaines was an African American denied enrollment to the School of Law at the State University of Missouri? During this trial, Gaines won the case based on there being no African American law school in the state which gave Gaines no other choice but to attend those of the Whites.

After the defeat of Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada case a man by the name of Heman Sweat who the University of Texas which was a White law school. In order to not accept him an African American law school was created. But did not contain the same education as opposed to the White law school. In response to this attempt, Sweat hired Thurgood Marshall who won him the case, where he too was able to attend the school of his choice.

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Lastly, is the McLaurin v. Oklahoma Board of Regents of Higher Education (1950) which began after a man named George McLaurin was ill-treated while receiving his education at the University of Oklahoma. This included having to sit apart from the rest of his class as well as eating at a separate time and place from white students. While seeking a resolution he hired Thurgood Marshall where it was argued that the behavior bestowed on McLaurin caused his inability to learn, due to the stress endured. Resulting in the court to cease the order immediately.

HBCU’s provide unique opportunities and a domain created to uplift the African American community and grant them the ability to receive higher education. Believe it or not, the first higher education institution for black people was discovered in Cheyney, Pennsylvania in 1937.

Along with two others like Lincoln University in Pennsylvania of 1854 and Wilberforce University in Ohio of 1856. The fun fact both of my best friends attended Lincoln University before I knew of its existence. Surprisingly even though these schools were universities they taught elementary and secondary school for those with no prior education during those times. It was not until that of the early 1900s that programs and courses at a post-secondary level were introduced. This brings me to the Morrill Act in 1890 which required states of racial segregation public higher learning education systems with grants, which is so hard to come by today.

Furthermore, African Americans not only had to fight for equality but to abolish segregation and obtain the same privileges as Whites and study amongst them. This includes the equally as important Plessy V. Ferguson case discovered in 1982 after a man by the name of Homer Plessy refused to give his seat to a white man on a train in New Orleans. During this time, it was against the law to refuse your seat to Whites. As a result, Homer Plessy was arrested while in custody he argued that the separation of Whites and Blacks violated the “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment. His will power and legal actions traveled all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the suit ended in defeat.

A historically black college or university establishes security and a stable environment where one can learn about their culture amidst a world where discrimination still lingers. Which is why today in colleges and universities African Americans are studied. For example, there are African and African American Studies, African American Literature, and African American Art, etc. Learning about the hardships that African Americans had to endure in order to obtain an education and have the same funding privileges as White institutions, will help others understand and be honored to know they came from that struggle and appreciate the opportunity to get an education today without having to face any turmoil. In my opinion, hardships somehow make people appreciate things more and not take it for granted.

In conclusion, through all the adversity and oppression faced for decades upon decades. African Americans have succeeded and prevailed where many believed impossible. For example, we have people like W.E.B Du Bois who was the founder of the NAACP and the first African American to get PH.D. There’s Madam C.J. Walker who was the first African American female millionaire. Inez Beverly Prosser who was the First American psychologist in 1933.

There’s Booker T. Washington who founded Tuskegee University in 1881 with it becoming one of the top schools in the country. And finally, we have our first elected African American President Barack Obama in 2009. With everything that Blacks have endured, they still managed to overcome oppression and achieve greatness. So, the color of your skin should not define who you are as a person, but the knowledge and fight you must keep pushing forward even when the odds are against you.

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