Why the student protest at the University of Missouri should be a call to action for HBCU’s

aaseio_grad_pics_2-252x300The recent protests by African American students @ The University of Missouri have made national news as of late. According to student representatives and faculty the racial climate has been bubbling on a bad note for quite some time now.  Black Studies Chair Stephanie Shonekan is quoted as saying “[Racist] incidents just seem to be almost a rite of passage for black students when they enter the University of Missouri.”  The revolt by African-American students at the University of Missouri has forced two top officials to resign. On Monday November 10th, President Tim Wolfe and Columbia campus chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced they will step down in the face of protests over their handling of racism on campus. African-American students staged weeks of demonstrations against what they called a lax response to bigotry and vandalism. In a key moment, African-American football players joined the protest, vowing to boycott games and other team activities until Wolfe resigned.

This is the latest in a series of events like this that have happened all over the country for many years. Black student protest is something that has been happening ever since black students began attending predominantly white universities. Unfortunately these institutions were never set up to serve the needs of African American students, who are always the minority population on campus. Most students of color who attend these colleges have some type of racist experience during the time that they attend the institution. A large number of African American students exchange their physical efforts for an education via participation in sports. These sports teams make millions of dollars or these schools and don’t share any of these profits with the atheletes and many of these schools are not concerned with the students education only the athletic ability of the student. Perhaps most crucial is that many of the African American learn very little of their history and the true plight of their people in this country which does not properly prepare them to be the most productive that they can be in this society


The idea of educating negroes here in America came about during the reconstruction era after the civil war. There was the question of how to properly integrate the newly freed negroes into society, thus there was a move to set up HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in order to train newly freed slaves. As expected most of the institutions operated with far less budget than their white counterparts many of whom were funded by private interests and religious groups. In contrast most HBCUs are funded by the state who are in most cases low on funds or provide limited resources to these black colleges. Unfortunately the perception of HBCU’s is that they offer an education that is of lower quality than the major white colleges. If you ask any student or graduate of a HBCU they will tell you of the experience in total they will speak on the family feel that they have or had while attending an HBCU. They will also speak on the sense of pride that they feel about their people. HBCU’s provide students the opportunity to see African Americans from all levels of society and from all parts of the country.


As a graduate of a HBCU my personal choice to attend was based on tradition and the grade of people that I saw that had attended a HBCU such as my mother and older cousins who were not only hero’s of mine but also took the time to sit down and talk with me about their black college experience

As a graduate of a HBCU my personal choice to attend was based on tradition and the grade of people that I saw that had attended a HBCU such as my mother and older cousins who were not only hero’s of mine but also took the time to sit down and talk with me about their black college experience. Also around the time that I was preparing for college there was a swell in black conciseness in music and there was a spike in a new black film movement led by Spike Lee, John Singleton and others. One of the more popular movies by Spike Lee was a film called “School Daze” which depicted a fictitious black southern college called Mission college and the events of homecoming weekend. Also you had the TV show “A Different World” which brought the black college experience to America on a weekly basis. Naturally during these years 87 -94 enrollment at HBCUs doubled. There was a line of clothing that featured all of the black colleges and they were the hottest thing out at the time. If you watch old episodes of “Martin” or “Living Single” on Youtube you can find these articles being worn.

tumblr_m39zvr376B1r2cwr4o1_250IMG_3658-760880 Howard University with Frankenstein Stitching - Retro 93

Sadly today many black high school students see HBCUs as providing a lower quality of education due to the physical state of most of these colleges, there are not the big new buildings and the newest equipment. The football and basketball teams don’t get as much major TV coverage (in most markets you will only see the Bayou Classic around thanksgiving). But these students would be wise to look deeper into the benefits of attending a HBCU. On the same token HBCUs should be passionately seeking out these students, I know that they work very hard on recruiting students but we need these brilliant black minds to come on home and get this REAL knowledge of self.


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