Historically Black Colleges and Universities, commonly known as HBCUs, are a large part of the fabric of America. With more than 100 of these institutions across the nation, BNC seeks to highlight the Black culture and excellence by taking viewers on a Road Trip to learn more about the HBCU experience at Howard University.
BNC’s first stop takes us to Washington, D.C. at the prestigious campus of Howard University which was established as a land grant institution in 1867, it is a highly regarded campus for Black excellence and education.
According to Lezli Baskerville, president and CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education or NAFEO, land grant colleges were established in 1862 only for white people. The end result is that in 1890, the United States Congress was required to establish historically Black land grant institutions.
HBCUs are just 3% of American colleges and universities, but they’re punching way above. This brings HBCU Road Trip to Howard University commonly known as the “Mecca” of Black excellence showcasing its prominent and powerful alumni. With over 120,000 degrees awarded to alumni over its 150-year existence, Howard University’s commitment to Black excellence can be seen across all aspects of campus life.
Icons from Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as actor Chadwick Boseman, have graced the hallowed halls of Howard as part of its dedication to Black excellence.
According to Howard University President Wayne Frederick, the university is considered the “Mecca” because is a place where people get that level of excellence and have that source of knowledge.
“So, I think it’s fitting, you know, it’s also called a capstone. It’s up here on the hill, one of the highest points in DC. So, some of it is symbolic and some of it is what happens here,” Frederick says.
Frederick goes on to praise the 70 to 80,000 living alum and said that they are in communities doing what is necessary to advance those communities every single day.
HBCUs have been thrust into the spotlight in recent years thanks in part to the Black Lives Matter movement and the inauguration of US Vice President Kamala Harris. With that attention came multi-million-dollar donations, and roughly 1/3 of HBCUs reporting record increases in applications and enrollment.
News of the university’s fine arts program being renamed after the late actor Chadwick Boseman bolstered attention to the university. Among many huge names in the industry, including the newly appointed Dean of Fine Arts actress Philicia Rashad, their accomplishments can be felt in the works of today.
Denise Saunders Thompson, the assistant dean of fine arts, was one of Boseman’s professors and lamented on his character and work ethic while he attended Howard U.
“Chad has set us up to win. The focus is that if you come to Howard University, this is the place where you will get what you want,” Saunders Thompson said.
The “Yard” is the affectionately named community on HBCU campuses where students naturally congregate with one another. Students at Howard chime in on their experiences on the “Yard” and what they’ve gained from being part of an HBCU community.
Current students Sean Smith, an acting major and Chadwick Boseman scholar, Briana Davis, a business major and former student council vice president, and Randall Brumant, a current graduate student and Bison Basketball player, all speak highly of their experiences thus far.
“So, I came from a predominantly white university and I went to Columbia for my undergrad. Just the prestige and the experience that I get here at Howard. When I was up at Columbia, I had a lot of friends that always would come down for Howard homecoming and had a lot of people who knew about Howard and attended here, so I already was hearing great things about Howard” Brumant said.
Each student stated that choosing an HBCU, in general, would be the best choice for any student searching for a great collegiate experience and gaining a deeper appreciation for the Black experience.