Skip to content

Why HBCUs are Critical to the Black Community

It should only take us seconds of reading today's headlines, and certainly those of the past, to realize the crucial, continuing importance of HBCU's for the Black community and our entire country. Students of color should have and deserve a safe and empowering environment to provide them a place to embrace their racial identities. HBCUs offer this unique and much-needed learning environment.

As we know, HBCUs have a long and rich history of providing access to African Americans seeking postsecondary education while also contributing and ensuring the educational success of a large number of students of color. Past studies have revealed that despite representing less than 3% of higher education institutes nationally, HBCUs are responsible for educating one in 10 Black students around the country.

Historically Black US Colleges have rich histories of providing much-needed access and support for disadvantaged students from under-resourced K-12 backgrounds. HBCUs' contributions to STEM education are particularly noteworthy as eight HBCUs are among the top 20 institutions that award science and engineering bachelor's degrees nationwide.

At Legacy, History, Pride, we are not only supportive of HBCUs, but we are also excited to see them continue and flourish and how they are preparing a new generation of graduates to continue to push for a better, brighter future.

HBCUs are crucial and continue to be critical to the POC and Black Community of the United States.

HBCUs are a Haven for the Marginalized.

While the achievement gap in K-12 learning may slowly narrow, it still definitively exists. Many HBCUs stand out in successfully retaining students that return after the first year. It is estimated that students enrolled in private four-year HBCUs were more likely to enroll exclusively full time and that students at HBCUs complete at a higher rate than the federal rate across all sectors.

It's more than academics for many who work and learn at HBCUs. HBCUs provide a much-needed sense of nurturing and safety lacking in many non-HBCUs. Furthermore, HBCUs hold a deep respect for the history and culture of the Black and POC community, creating acceptance that many do not get to experience in different environments.

Students also benefit from a faculty that uniquely understands the Black and POC community's experiences, along with being more likely committed to seeing them succeed. Black graduates of HBCUs that have professors that genuinely care about them as people can make a difference in both performance and achievements of students as well as self-confidence and the self-image in development.

The Paul Quinn College, a private HBCU in Dallas, provides us with a prime example. Their guiding principles are called the four L's: leave places better than you found them. Lead from wherever you are. Live a life that matters and love something greater than yourself. Paul Quinn's institutional ethos is ""WE over Me,"" which anchors this philosophy's academic and community work.

HBCUs bring a sense of success that isn't simply focused on the individual but shared through everyone's triumphs.

In addition to all of the above, in a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology in April 2021, scientists found that Black students who attended an HBCU were less likely to develop risk factors for chronic diseases later in life than those who attended predominantly white institutions.

Affordable Tuition Rates

On average, tuition rates for HBCUs are 30% less than in comparison to other institutions. When parents and students struggle to pay for their education more than ever, HBCU's deliver higher returns at a much lower cost. HBCUs provide a stable environment for low-income, first-generation college students who are most at risk of not entering or completing college. On average, it is estimated that more than 300,000 students attend HBCUs every single year, and 80% of them are Black. More than 70% of those students qualify for federal Pell Grants, and 80% of HBCU students receive federal loans.

HBCUs represent Black Excellence

Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been and continue to produce many of the world's most powerful leaders, entertainers, and achievers since 1837. Despite increasing opportunities, access is still a significant problem for minority students. HBCUs continue to be a major force in addressing policies that affect minorities on a national level, such as discrimination, systematic racism, criminal justice reform, education system improvement, place-based policies, reparations, and more.

HBCUs Make Positive Impacts on Communities

In a piece written by Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and chief executive officer of the UNCF, he notes that HBCUs ""do a better job of graduating low-income, first-generation students than their peer institutions, even though they are far more likely than non-HBCUs to have freshman classes where three-quarters or more of students come from low-income backgrounds."

Many HBCUs are invested in seeing their students succeed and closely monitor their process, more so than traditional non-HBCU institutions. They track whether students are showing up, whether students are falling behind, and whether they are using tutoring and support services—then ensuring students have access to all of this and more.

But how does this make a positive impact on communities?

HBCUs have boosted their students in higher-income quintiles and into prominent political, social, and leadership positions and continue to be a key source to finding and fostering this kind of talent.

This opportunity for education can accelerate Black economic mobility even more. HBCUs unlock more advancements for Black Americans and return a solid financial performance for the United States. It's estimated that strong HBCU networks could increase Black working incomes by almost $10 billion in addition to strengthening the economy in Black communities across the entire country.

HBCUs remain critical in the United States for the Black community because of how wide-ranging their impact is on black minds, bodies, and futures. It is imperative now and more than ever that HBCUs continue to thrive on helping our Black community in all aspects of life.

HBCUs create a legacy. They are a much-needed tool, and they are steeped in the critical history of Black Americans.