Posted by Stephanie Brady on 2/2/2021
Kamala Harris is the first female, the first Black, the first-person of South-Asian descent to serve as Vice President of the United States. But did you know she is also the first Vice President to have graduated from an HBCU?
A proud graduate of Howard University, Harris attributes Howard, a world-renowned Historically Black College (HBCU), for helping nurture her into the powerful woman she is today and setting the seeds for many of the positions and policies that define her career. According to Harris, “There’s something special about the investment that an HBCU places in its students,” the staunch HBCU advocate says. “It’s about the nurturing. It’s about refining. It’s about all that goes into making someone transition from being a child into an adult.”
HBCUs, like Harris’s alma mater, encompass over 100 public and private institutions established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the primary purpose of educating Black Americans. Most of these institutions were founded after the American Civil War and are concentrated in the Southern United States. For a century after the end of slavery, most colleges and universities in the South prohibited Blacks from attending. At the same time, institutions in other parts of the country regularly employed quotas to limit Black student admissions. HBCUs were established to meet the educational needs of Black students who previously had negligible opportunities to attend college. Still equally rich in history and tradition, today HBCUs are more diverse than when founded initially. Contrary to popular belief, HBCUs educate students of all races and ethnicities.
With that said, HBCUs are considered Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). MSIs are colleges and universities whose mission is to serve students from minority backgrounds. HBCUs comprise 3% of America's higher education institutions, yet enroll 16% of all Black students in higher education and award 24% of all baccalaureate degrees earned by Black students nationwide. Additionally, Miramonte students have submitted 40 applications to HBCUs over the last four years. See a full list of HBCUs and links to school websites here.
The multi-layered HBCUs provide an exceptional educational experience that fosters an understanding of and appreciation for the Black experience in America. When considering college fit, HBCUs provide unique perspectives and experiences:
- Diversity: HBCUs offer a deep dive into diversity within the Black diaspora. While most of the students are Black, many are not. Students come from a wide range of socioeconomic, religious, and family backgrounds from all over the U.S. and world.
- Social Justice: As centers of academic excellence and community-building, HBCUs advocate for racial equity and social justice. HBCUs programs focus on creating civic-minded leaders for the next generation.
- Values: HBCUs are rooted in faith, community, and service. The history and life of Black colleges intertwine with social justice, religion, values, and service to others.
- Community: With HBCUs’ particular focus, HBCUs provide a college experience surrounded by people with similar backgrounds and beliefs. HBCUs foster support and understanding among faculty and fellow students.
- Affordability: HBCU tuition rates are on average almost 30 percent less than comparable institutions — that’s why they’re considered the best buy in education. At a time when parents and students are more concerned than ever about the cost of attending college, HBCUs deliver higher returns at a lower price.
- Location: The majority of the HBCUs are located in the Southeastern states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands.
- Common Black College Application: Students can apply to 60 of the HBCUs by completing just one application: the Common Black College Application (CBCA). The Common Black College Application allows students to submit a single application to all participating member institutions for $20, interact with school counselors, and learn more about HBCUs.
HBCUs have cultivated leaders and visionaries like W.E.B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey, and Martin Luther King Jr. As we celebrate Black History month, take a moment and explore the HBCU experience—listen to President Barack Obama’s 2020 HBCUs commencement speech. His words provide valuable insight into HBCUs, their institutional priorities, and their missions!