Four years ago I was faced with the difficult decision as a high school senior of where I would be spending the next four years continuing my education. I grew up in a family where the importance of attending a historically black college or university was stressed at an early age. Although few members of my family did attend predominatley white universities, the majority were all graduates of an HBCU. I was exposed to the life of an HBCU as a young child, from attending various homecomings each year to never missing a CIAA tournament. With all this exposure I knew I wanted to attend an HBCU after graduation, and needless to say Shaw University was my choice.
I knew I wanted to attend a school where I was more than just a number. I have friends at PWIs who complain about being in huge classrooms and not being able to interact with their professors. Students at HBCUs are afforded opportunities such as small classrooms that allow that one on one interaction with professors.
Now a Shaw senior I am absolutely certain that have experienced things that I know I would not have the opportunity to experience if I did not choose to go to an HBCU. Attending an HBCU is more than just about receiving an education but more about the overall experience you get while there.
I have not regretted my decision of attending one of the 105 HBCUs. Shaw University has a prominent and rich historical background in producing events and graduates who have changed the world. Graduates of Shaw have founded other North Carolina HBCUs including North Carolina Central, Elizabeth City State, and Fayetteville State Universities. The Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was also founded on this campus in 1960. I feel honored each day to be able to attend Shaw and contribute to this legacy.
Honestly, the question of whether HBCU’s still are relevant leaves me confused. HBCUs have graduated Black influential leaders such as Langston Hughes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Oprah Winfrey, Toni Morrison, Spike Lee, Alex Haley, Ruth Simmons, Earl Graves, James Cheek, and this May, yours truly. When you speak about graduating young people of color HBCUs are especially relevant in our society.
Kristen Brown is a graduating senior at Shaw University. A native from Mount Olive, North Carolina, Kristen is a Mass Communications major with a concentration in journalism. She is currently co-editor of The Bear Facts, an online student newspaper at Shaw, she is also the secretary for the Theta Chi chapter of the National Broadcast Society on campus. Kristen is also a member of the Beta Rho chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. After graduation Kristen plans to pursue a career as a public relations specialist.
My Viewpoint 2: The question on if HBCU’s are still needed is a good question. First I would base my opinion on their usefulness by looking at the history of how they came about and what contribution they bring today. It is a fact that HBCU’s came about because of segregation., which was bluntly the separation of blacks and whites for the purpose of superiority and or to maintain some kind of caste systems. However, although they were started to fight segregation, HBCU’s have been blamed for the ‘new separation’ and the growing dependency on HBCU’s by African-American. The question is, could they really get along without their infamous HBCU’s status?
I had been studying HBCU’s prior to this discussion and from my research, HBCU’s are still needed because, like other institutions of higher learning, they have grown and are very established, and they are a “very serious part of a real history?” Therefore, getting rid of HBCU’s is like taking away education all together and like taking away a very important part of history not only for African-American’s but for the whole world. I believe that every part of any type of history is important for a future to come and should always preserve that resource. On the other hand, I also think that HBCU’s should take time to pay attention to keep away from being the new separation but to forge relationships with all people for the purpose of education, diversity and integrity.
Rhoasaundra Watson is a student at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC.