Black History Month: highlighting historically black colleges and universities
Every college and university has its own unique story to tell. So, in honor of Black History Month, we're exploring some of the top historically black colleges and universities — where they've been, how they're doing, and where they're going.
Known as one of the “oldest historically black colleges west of the Mississippi River,” Wiley College was founded in 1873 in Marshall, Texas. It was certified in 1882 by the Freedmen’s Aid Society. Wiley College is probably most noted, though, for its strong history in debate. Denzel Washington starred in and directed the movie “The Great Debaters,” showcasing the success of the college’s first debate team in 1935.
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Spelman College opened its doors in Atlanta in 1881, and it was the fourth historically black female institution to receive a collegiate charter (1924). It is now seen as one of America’s oldest historically black colleges for women. The college has come a long way from sharing a church basement with Morehouse College. Today, Spelman College is recognized as one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges and is in the top ten best women’s colleges.
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Much like Spelman College, Morehouse College is a private historically black college in Atlanta, GA. It is one of three remaining traditional all-men’s liberal arts colleges in the U.S. and one of two black colleges to produce Rhodes Scholars. Morehouse is also the alma mater of Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, it is considered one the “Black Ivy League” schools — a term used to refer to historically black colleges that attract top students.
Founded in 1886 as the Delaware Conference Academy, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore is a historically black university and a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. An especially impressive feature of UMES is its recent growth — adding 20 degree-granting programs within the last decade!
Florida A&M University is ranked as the third largest historically black university by enrollment in the US. Located in the state capital of Tallahassee, it is the only publicly-funded historically black college/university in the state of Florida. The school has had some negative media, though, including an investigation into a fatal hazing in 2011. In an effort to turn things around, the university appointed a new university president last year and has adopted strict policies to eliminate hazing from its campus.
Just six months after the end of the American Civil War, the Fisk Free Colored School was created in Nashville, Tennessee to educate emancipated slaves. It later became Fisk Univeristy and has gone on to create a national reputation for academic excellence. According to the Fisk University website, “no U.S. institution awards more master’s in physics degrees to African-American U.S. citizens than Fisk University.”
Established by Booker T. Washington, this private, historically black university is the only college or university campus in the nation to be designated as a National Historic Site by the U.S. Congress. Tuskegee University is also the only historically black college or university with a fully-accredited College of Veterinary Medicine that offers the Doctoral Degree, and produces more than 75 percent of the African-American veterinarians in the world!
It took years of struggle by countless pioneers and civil rights advocates to bring about change in our education system. Through their sacrifice and steadfast determination, all races and ethnicities now have the ability to pursue a higher education. But we still have a ways to go in creating equal opportunities for all, and during Black History Month we both celebrate our accomplishments, as well as rededicate ourselves to honoring and continuing those efforts. We encourage you to take part and RESIST THE IST. Tell us how you're defying stereotypes for a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship!