HBCU's: Why the Hate

Once again TownHall.com has presented me with an asinine column written this time by a black man – but to their credit, moronic thoughts are treated equally at TH. This month’s offending moron is Walter E. Williams with a column entitle “Black Colleges”. Mr. Williams cites a study that recounts the experience of a black professor who taught at Stillman College. The professor in the study had a bad experience with the some students at the school, and as TH columnist are apt to do, he extrapolated this ONE professor’s experience to bring an indictment against all HBCU’s.

Mr. Williams notes that only 7 out of 53 HBCU’s have graduating rates above 50%. What Mr. Williams doesn’t tell you is that over the past 10 years, 27 of the top HBCU have seen their graduation rates improve. But according to Williams, “Given these numbers, the preparation and performance of students at most black colleges, one has ask whether these colleges have outlived their usefulness.”

This statement is the opening for bigots to spew their thoughts.

Jim Write:

When is Hollywood going to make a movie about Professor Maxwell's experience. I
guess The Great Debaters is doing well by bringing to the world's attention what a racist place the US was and to Hollywood and the liberal press still is! The bigotry of low expectations! I couldn't agree more!

Bhutto Chimes In with:

Predominantly black high schools are holding pens for juvenile delinquents. Why shouldn't "historically black" ghetto colleges be becoming the same?

Then there is Buzkat:

Dr. Williams describes to a tee the perfect situation that dem/libs want for the black population. Keep them dumb, lazy and on the Democrat plantation in exchange for a few government tidbits. This way only lip service needs to be paid to the concept of equality and liberty for all. Thank you, Lilly, and all the rest of you libs who are destroying this country.

Finally, Loca highlight the main point of many folks:

book "Losing the Race". a book about the unpleasant truth behind black underachievement, the root being the continuing victimization causing a seperation from anything not authentically Black. That includes education. He shows how these black colleges imbue victimization on black students who going in suffered no harm from whites, many coming from successful middle class families. But coming out they have taken on angry victimization. For their own good, perhaps these black colleges have served their usef in a time past but are now only doing harm.

Ok, now that I’ve served you a nice dose of ignorance, how about some real facts regarding HBCU’s.

First, historically black refers to just that; these institutions were created at a time when black people were excluded from state institutions. They are not institutions exclusive to only black people and many black people are attracted to them because of the environment that an HBCU provides for a black student. How does an institution of higher learning ever outlive its purpose? BYU, Notre Dame and Loyola Marymount cater to a specific demographic and no one would suggest that they’ve outlived their purpose.

It is well documented that some HBCU’s have some problems that stem from a lack of leadership within those institutions. A valid discussion regarding HBCU’s is with financing and if they are in a position to create an educational environment that will provide students with the skills to compete in a global economy. We could talk about the possibility of institutions merging or creating partnership with state universities.

But TH and most of its commentors do not concern themselves in-depth analysis of the issues. No, they would rather take advantage of another opportunity to state just how ignorant we black folk are and to that, they lay the blame on Jesse Jackson and other “black leaders”. Why don't we look at some facts regarding HBCU's.


* HBCUs are responsible for producing approximately 23 percent of all bachelor's degrees, 13 percent of all master's degrees, and 20 percent of all first professional degrees earned by African Americans annually.

*Nine of the top ten colleges that graduate most of the African American students who go on to earn Ph.D.s are HBCUs.

*More than 50 percent of the nation's African American public school teachers and 70 percent of African American dentists and physicians earned degrees at HBCUs.*Over half of all African American professionals are graduates of HBCUs

*In 2000, Xavier University in New Orleans individually produced more successful African American medical school applicants (94) than Johns Hopkins (20), Harvard (37), and the University of Maryland (24) combined. Two other HBCUs also placed in the top ten producers of medical school applicants, including Morehouse (33), and Spelman (38).

*Spellman and Bennett Colleges produce over half of the nation's African American women who go on to earn doctorates in all science fields; more than produced by the Ivy League's Seven Sisters combined (Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Wellesley, and Vassar Colleges).

*African American science degree holders: agriculture (51.6 percent), biology (42.2 percent), computer science (35 percent), physical science (43 percent), and social science (23.2 percent).

*HBCUs produce 44 percent of all African American bachelor's degrees awarded for communications technology, 33 percent of bachelor's degrees awarded for engineering technology, and 43 percent of bachelor's degrees awarded for mathematics, and

*African American baccalaureates in mathematics and statistics: Morehouse College

So, you tell me if HBCU’s have outlived their purpose. Based on this information, can we not say that Loco is indeed crazy when he states that HBCU's are doing more harm than good? I say yes.

Discuss It
1. Should we bring an end to HBCU's
2. Does the existence of Historically Black colleges constitute racism on the part of black people


3 Responses to HBCU's: Why the Hate

  1. N. Kozmo Miller Says:
    The power is in the numbers and god bless folks like you for bringing it to the ignorant. A lot of us don't know these stats which is why the foolish question of "do we still need HBCU's?" keeps coming up.
    Even if they all went bankrupt and were just standing museums, they're still a testament to efforts against all odds. Imagine building a entire college on the heels of emancipation!
    People can now go down to Brazil and see an HBCU named after a black slave revolutionary. Further, HBCU's often attract students from all over the African diaspora fostering cultural exchange so I don't think the schools' usefulness needs to be questioned again. Keep up the good work!
  2. Anonymous Says:
    I totally have a respect for what HBSCUs stood for in history. My issue is more so what they are representing NOW. Example- Howard University calls itself the MECCA of black education- yet their facilities for the majority of their undergrad programs are horrible. I am all for HBSCU, but I would refuse to send my child there knowing that he/she would be getting a second class education! I work here in Washington DC. You would be shocked at the number of African-American managers and jobleaders who refuse to hire HBCU students. They base it on the schools resources, the "party" atmosphere along with other things. Many of them attended HBCUs themselves and know they are NOT what they used to be. And I agree- it is sad.I myself opted to attend a regular college in fear that I would not be getting a top notch education. I visited 3 HBCUs and compared them with the regular colleges that I also visited. How could I not have chosen the larger school? The facilities and connections were endless. The African-Americans at these school seemed to be more about work then play. Again I say I am all about an HBCU- but we as a people need them on the SAME level if not BETTER then the rest. Not JUST within the HBCU realm.
  3. Anonymous Says:
    I am an african-american student who received a Bachelor's degree from a large state school, and I am currently a Master's student at Howard University. I will also add that I took two prerequisite courses at SC State University (another HBCU), where I was completely disgusted with the behavior of the students, as well as the administrative process I witnessed there. Therefore, I would like to think that I have a pretty good idea of the differences between the two institution-types, as I have experienced them both.

    With that being said, I am utterly appalled at the experience that I have had with Howard. This university may have a great legacy to stand upon. However, it is just that...a legacy. This school, like many (if not all) HBCUs, exhibits a great number of issues that seem to be almost insurmountable! The corruption, over-spending, dishonesty in practice, poor leadership, etc. are off the charts, and for some reason, people would like to continue to cover these things up, instead of facing the facts and dealing with the outrageous problems that have gone on for decades, and will continue for years to come.

    Also, I thoroughly read the blogger's "facts", and I took them into consideration as I continued to read what was posted here. However, after reading all that this blogger posted, I would aim to say that those "facts" should be considered more holistically. HBCUs may graduate MORE of a particular type of student than other schools, but does that mean that the student received the same quality of education that they may have received elsewhere? I think not, simply judging from my experiences at both types of institutions. Therefore, those "facts" may not even matter at all. If more people in the african-american community would stop fighting every criticism that comes their way in situations such as these and, instead, consider the actual problems that lie within, MAYBE we could make some progress. MAYBE we could actually better "our" institutions so that people don't have to question them. There is much to be said about the problems within these institutions, and my hope in writing this comment, as a student who has experienced this topic of concern from several different angles, is that more people will call out these "universities" for the crap that they're selling and cause a change to come upon them OR shut them down altogether.