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Community Advocacy Organization

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

I believe it was radio personality Tom Joyner who coined the phrase “Black History is 24:7”, meaning it should be celebrated every day of the year. It is for this reason that The Chronicle Newspaper is launching its Black History Month tribute right now. That’s right! We are showcasing the celebration in a grand way with a SPOTLIGHT ON HBCU’s!!

In honor of Black History Month, the Chronicle Newspaper will be honoring America’s 101 Historically Black Colleges and Universities with a spotlight and historical perspective, along with recognizing Lansing residents who graduated from one. We welcome and encourage your input with contributions, testimonies and insights into the benefits of your affiliation.

Meanwhile, what was once known as the “black college” is now referred to as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). One reason for this change is because the colleges, which were once the mainstay of higher learning for the African American community because of racial segregation, now rank high among mainstream college students of all ethnicities.

While African American student enrollment dropped by 8.5% of the total attendance at the institutions due to desegregation in 2015, the numbers among whites, Hispanics and Asians rose to 22% in the same year. As some view these factors as the beauty of an integrated society, others lament on what they consider a decline in its legacy of the same.

As far back as pre-Civil War, the need for black colleges existed. Missionary organizations helped organize Cheyney University in 1837 and Lincoln University in 1854. Both colleges are in the state of Pennsylvania. In 1856, the Ohio African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E) Church collaborated with the white Methodist Episcopal Church to sponsor Wilberforce University, the third HBCU. Shaw University of Raleigh, North Carolina established in 1865, was the first southern HBCU to be established after the Civil War as well. Only two years, Howard University was founded.

Prior to 1964, these institutions of higher education were established in the United States for the primary purpose of serving the African American community due to most of white institutions that would not allow qualified students from enrolling or attending their colleges.

When we hear “the mind is a terrible thing to waste,” we immediately associate the slogan with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. That saying emanated from the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) which is “the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization” vested with the responsibility of providing scholarships to 100 HBCU’s by appealing to their economic impact with provisions of more than $15 billion annually.

The UNCF believes that “historically black colleges and universities inject “multi-billions of dollars into the nation’s economy” that consequently and significantly “makes America strong,” according to a recent UNCF study. “This far reaching economic impact can be felt in communities and nationwide, as well as the increased earning power of their students.”

Did you graduate from an HBCU? We want to share your story with Chronicle readers! Please contact me by email, and let’s get is in print!


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