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HBCUs: Why they deserve more

(For centuries, HBCUs have provided Black students throughout the nation with professional and cultural development. [Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz])

In the midst of the 2020 election, you may have heard many of the democratic presidential candidates speak on funding Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs). HBCUs were created in the 1800’s in order to provide an education to African Americans because private white institutions (PWIs) did not allow Black students to attend. Since their founding, the mission of HBCUs has been supporting the continued education of Black people.

I will be attending an HBCU in the fall, which is why I was so interested in the promises being made about funding for HBCUs in the 2020 election by presidential candidates. My entire life, my dream school was to go to New York University, a PWI, and my second choice was Howard University, an HBCU. As I did more research into Howard, I discovered HBCUs are vital to the Black experience.

HBCUs dive deep into Black history, culture, and experience rather than skimming over it like many PWIs do. No matter a student’s major, HBCUs center Blackness, whether in political science talking about how the legal system upholds racism and white supremacy or in biology where students focus on Black people’s experiences of certain diseases or symptoms. HBCUs teach young Black adults about their past and where they come from, helping their students understand how to create change using the blueprint that our ancestors left for us. The amazing experiences and rich perspectives of HBCUs is what made me fall in love with them and is why I decided it was important for me to consider an HBCU as more than a second choice.

Currently, there are 107 HBCUs (3% of all colleges) that host an average of 228,000 students a year. HBCUs enroll 10% of all African American students and produce 20% of all African American graduates. They produce 50% of all black doctors and lawyers, 25% of black STEM professionals, 50% of the nation’s African American public school teachers and 70% of African American dentists earned degrees at HBCUs.

As of 2019, the Senate signed a bill to give $255 million in permanent funding to minority institutions, yet only $85 million will be awarded to HBCUs. This is a large issue because HBCUs find it harder to give scholarships to Black students, the same students they were created to serve.

When running for office, Joe Biden created a plan to fund HBCUs. Joe Biden promised to give $18 billion to minority higher education institutions to lower costs in order to increase access for Black students. He also promised to create a permanent $750 million fund to serve as a lifeline for under-resourced HBCUs and students who may need it. In addition, he promised to create a $10 billion fund for universities and high schools to increase employment to make sure Black professors would not be pressured to teach at PWIs for financial reasons.

I hope Biden makes good on these promises, because, to me, this is a civil rights issue. Supporting HBCUs means removing financial boundaries to support the education of Black people in this country.

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