In the midst of the 2020 election, you may have heard many of the democratic presidential candidates speak on funding Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). HBCUs were created in the 1800’s in order to provide an education to African Americans because predominantly white institutions (PWIs) did not allow Black students to attend. Since their founding, the mission of HBCUs has been to support 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 through a political science focus on how the legal system upholds racism and white supremacy or a biology focus on Black people’s experiences with certain diseases and symptoms. HBCUs teach young Black adults about their pasts 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.
In 2021, the Biden-Harris team announced a plan to give $45 billion to minority-serving institutions. That number was later decreased to $10 billion after disagreement from Congress and has since been stalled in the Senate.
But the administration hasn't completely failed. More than $4 billion was given to HBCUs as part of the COVID-relief funding. $1.6 billion in debt was forgiven for HBCUs in the HBCU Capital Financing Program. More than $500 million was awarded to HBCUs by the Department of Education.
The financial support over the past couple years is a nice surprise, but HBCUs deserve more. Supporting HBCUs means removing financial boundaries to support the education of Black people in this country. We are hoping funding continues to be added until it reaches and supersedes the amount Biden-Harris originally proposed.