Visiting HBCUs changed my perspective


Courtesy of Melissa Thomas

Sophomore Neema Thomas visited North Carolina A&T State University with her sister freshman Aaniyah and parents Melissa and Reggie.

Neema Thomas, Staff Writer

Recently, I visited a few Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs) during spring break. I went to Howard University, Hampton University, and North Carolina A & T State University. Touring the colleges gave me a new perspective on HBCUs.

HBCUs are institutions that were founded before 1964. HBCUs were set up to allow black students to attend college apart from the racial discrimination and segregation when white supremacists prevented them from attending school with white students.

After the second Morrill Act passed in 1890, the separation of white universities and black universities became legalized. The second Morrill Act said funding for education should be distributed equally. Unfortunately, historically black land-grant universities would only receive a small percentage of the funding from the state.

On October 18, 2021, black students in the Atlanta University Center (AUC) in Atlanta, Georgia, protested for a better housing situation. Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, and Morris Brown College comprise the AUC.

Students reported broken equipment in their dorms and planned to sleep in tents until their schools’ presidents and federal officials addressed their demands. The idea came from students at Howard University, an HBCU in the District of Columbia, who were suffering from similar problems.

In 2020, the 10 largest HBCU finances added up to $2 billion compared to the $200 billion the top 10 largest state-funded colleges have received (Broady, Kristen. “Underfunding HBCUs leads to an underrepresentation of Black faculty,” Brookings).

The question now is if black students should attend HBCUs. While this can be a matter of opinion, I believe they should. As a black student, touring Howard, Hampton, and even North Carolina A&T University gave me an at-home feeling.

Before even visiting the schools, the thought of attending an HBCU hung in the back of my mind. To me, the thought of going to a school with limited resources because of poor funding made me feel as if my education would be limited as well. But as I learned about each school my thought process changed.

Howard was the first university I visited during spring break. At Howard, they foster the black-owned radio station, WHUR 96.3. Students can apply for a paid internship and get hands-on experience. The school also houses a center for Sickle Cell Disease.

Hampton University houses one of the Ten Great Trees of the World. The Emancipation Oak was the area where Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was read. Hampton also has a waterfront with benches that have sculptures of famous black leaders like Mary Peake, Barack Obama and Rosa Parks seated on the benches.

The celebration and appreciation of black culture also extends to something as simple as cafeteria menus. Both Howard and Hampton have soul food days where their kitchens make macaroni and cheese, fried chicken (fan favorite), cornbread, and red beans and rice.

Visiting these colleges and researching this topic led me to a future where I see myself going to an HBCU.