Black Colleges and Universities Respect Their Legacy But Look to the Future

The notion of black colleges and universities is used in reference to minority serving institutions of higher education, established before 1964 and open for African-American community. Were the higher education available to the total public, irrespective of the color of skin, Black colleges and universities probably wouldn't be prominent as today with respect to what they hope to achieve.

There exist now more than 100 historically black colleges and universities, concentrated mainly in the South and in the East of the USA. Four colleges are located in the states of Missouri and Ohio and one is in the Virgin Islands. They are both private and public, co-educational and single-sex, two-year and four-year colleges.

The notion of black colleges and universities implies they are designed for education of Black Americans. However the proportion of white students attending these universities is worth noting. Established in 1964 as a college for Blacks only, West Virginia State University now has the student body 80 percent white.

The first colleges for Afro-Americans were established before 1862. During the decades that followed, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and Wilberforce College in Ohio were founded. In 1862 the First Morrill Act was introduced in Congress, whose mission was to foster educational opportunities for all students, by means of distributing funds to the states. In 1890 Congress passed the Second Morrill Act, which aimed at providing land-grant institutions for Blacks and Whites. Such institutions for Afro-Americans were initially non-degree schools. Today Black colleges and universities comprise 3% of the total amount of colleges and universities in the United States and have the enrollment of 214,000 students, which makes for a student population of 16%.

Among the most significant schools are Howard University, Hampton University, Clark Atlanta University, Morgan State University, Lincoln University, Morehouse College and Spellman College.

Morehouse College, Spellman College and Clark Atlanta University comprise Atlanta University Center, an academic consortium of black colleges and universities in Atlanta, Georgia. Morehouse College belongs to the five remaining colleges for men in the United States, while Spellman can boast of being among one of the highest endowed in the nation. Formed in 1988, Clark Atlanta University is a private co-educational institution, which offers undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate degrees. Its establishment was the result of a consolidation between Atlanta University and Clark College.

Historically black colleges and universities are represented through the National Association of Colleges and Universities for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, founded by a group of presidents of black colleges and universities in 1969. The main goal of the Association is to preserve and enhance historically and predominantly black colleges and universities, to protect their interests as well as to provide services to the members of the Association for building the capacity of the faculty, administration, staff and students. It represents more than 400,000 Afro-American students across the United States. The member institutions of the Association are regional, national, community and international research universities, which can be found in 25 States, the District of Columbia and Virgin Islands.

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