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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Why are Historically Black Colleges and Universities Needed?

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By Michael Blum

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As part of his daily routine, President Adams answers a lot of questions. While leading Knoxville College from surviving to thriving, his days are packed with meetings, emails, planning, and fielding questions. Interestingly, the most common question is, “why are historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) needed?” The answer lies in American history. The need for HBCUs arose after the Civil War and remains important to this day. HBCUs serve a different purpose than other types of colleges, they educate, inspire, and empower African American students to continue the fight against racism.

The need for HBCUs became apparent after the Civil War. The conflict left roughly five million newly freed slaves in need of formal education.  Slaves did not have schools and, in many states, teaching slaves to read and write was illegal. To educate the newly freed saves, HBCUs flourished. Initially, they offered elementary and high school level courses in to make up for the educational deficits caused by slavery. Creating these institutions served as the first steps to fighting against Jim Crow segregation.

In today’s world, HBCUs are as important as ever. In the recent weeks, national media has noted a dramatic increase in HBCU enrollment. Some articles credit large donations from high profile sources, including The Gates Foundation. When asked to explain the increase Howard University Provost Anthony Wutoh offered, “we are attracting student who have a significant interest in social justice and an interest in addressing what they see as the ills of society.” Aminta Breaux, President of Bowie State University, thinks that “calls for racial justice, the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the overall political climate” are responsible for the increase. Regardless of the cause, HBCUs continue to attract to student with an interest in continuing the fight against racism.

Knoxville College has always played a big part in creating equality. Since its founding, the KC has improved the city’s Black community, through educating students, creating the Black middle class, and, during the civil rights movement, protesting racial segregation. The current administration continues these efforts. Most recently, KC officials met with Mechanicsville Community Association to discuss how the groups can provide improve education, expand the economy, and create better housing options.

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