Most Historically Black Colleges and Universities were established after the end of the Civil War to serve the Black community. For about 100 years after the end of slavery, most colleges and universities in the Southern United States banned Black people from becoming students. HBCUs were founded to correct this cruel practice and provide opportunities to African Americans. Historically Black Colleges and Universities are largely responsible for creating and growing the Black middle class.
Most HBCUs were founded in the South with the help of Northern religious missionary organizations after the end of the Civil War, but there were a few HBCU institutions founded and chartered before the war began. These include Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, University of the District of Columbia (originally known as Miner School for Colored Girls), Lincoln University, and Wilberforce University.
Atlanta University, the very first HBCU in the Southern United States, was founded exactly five months after the end of the Civil War. It was the first school to award African Americans with bachelor’s degrees in the South and graduate degrees in the nation. Clark College was established four years later as the first four-year liberal arts college for Black students in the nation. In 1988, the two schools came together to form the school as it’s known today: Clark Atlanta University. Two other HBCUs were founded the same year as Atlanta University, Shaw University and Storer College. While Storer College is no longer an active school, its former campus is now part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been founded across the United States. Today, HBCUs celebrate Black excellence and provide opportunities in education by producing excellent scholars, leaders, and activists that have helped make our country better.