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Is your HBCU still relevant in the 21st century?

September 28, 2016

An editorial by Britney Broussard that questions if African American students who now have the choice of going to college would choose a Historically Black College or not. And if they could have another chance at college would they make the same decision?

The Ashmun Institute was the first degree-granting Historical Black College University in America chartered on April 24, 1954. The founder of the university was John Miller Dickey and his wife Sarah Emlen Cresson. Dickey founded the college because he was tired of the failed attempts made trying to help a free black man receive acceptance into a university. In 1866, it was renamed Lincoln University after President Abraham Lincoln.
That was 162 years ago and even though it seems like a lifetime ago, 162 years is not that long. I wanted know if African American students who now have the choice of going to college would choose a Historically Black College or not. And if they could have another chance at college would they make the same decision.

Octavius Davis attended Edwaters College in Jacksonville Florida and this is what he had to say.

“I felt a level of pride attending a Historically Black College. Growing up, I did not pay attention to African American history or heritage. It made me feel like I was not just another number in a classroom but that my teachers had genuine interest in not only my success in the classroom but my success in life.”


Jacksonville's Edward Waters College (Ennis Davis)

For Davis, he was able to reconnect with his heritage and learn more about his African American History. Several of the most influential African Americans have attended Historically Black Colleges. For example, Reverend Jesse Jackson, civil rights activist attended North Carolina A& T in 1964, Pulitzer-Prize Winner, Alice Walker attended Spelman and Spike Lee on of the most famous black filmmakers attended Morehouse in 1979 and many more.

“I would definitely, attend another HBCU but I would attend FAMU if I had chosen to apply myself more in academics,” said Davis.
But what if you were not just an African American, what if you were biracial. Would someone with a white mother and black father choose to attend a traditional college or a historically black college? Gabi Hickman who was a senior and editor of the school paper at Jacksonville University was able to help shed some light on the subject.


Tallahassee's Florida A&M University in 2008 (Ennis Davis)

“My mother and father never pushed me to attend a historically black college or traditional university. They gave me the option to decide for myself. So when it came time to pick a college for myself, I chose a college in Florida and a program that I felt I would be successful in. I never thought about attending a historically black college because I never felt I fit into the black or white community.”

However, there are many African Americans who have grown up with parents who celebrate African American Achievements. Some are sons and daughters of influential African Americans. Joshua Atkins father Kenneth Atkins was one of those influential African Americans. He was not only the Chief of Staff at Methodist Hospital but also the President of Florida Medical, Dental Pharmaceutical Association, President of the Northeast Florida Medical Association, The City of Jacksonville Victim’s associate and a highly respected OBGYN for over 30 years. Joshua Atkins chose to attend Howard University, a very prestigious historically black college. After attending Howard, Atkins attended Florida State University.

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