today in black history

May 27, 2024

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, founded by the Quakers, established in 1837, is the oldest historically Black college.

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POSTED: March 05, 2020, 11:00 am

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Claim your birthright as an honorary HBCU alumnus, and make an investment in the sustainability and growth of our colleges and universities.

As African Americans we are all responsible for the health and sustainability of our historically Black colleges and universities. We are standing on the shoulders of the students that these institutions supported, and this touches every Black person in America. Our civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., preachers, teachers, artists, scientists, doctors, nurses, social workers, engineers, and politicians from prior generations were educated, mentored, encouraged, prepared, and intellectually challenged by our HBCUs.

Show your pride

We are now at a point in our history where we can no longer enjoy the luxury of showing pride as alumni of specific institutions. We have to reflect back on our history as African Americans and understand that both the Black church and our historically Black colleges and universities have been the cornerstone of who we are today, whether or not we personally participate in either.

We have to appreciate the history of these institutions and the impact they have made over the last 150 years plus. They are the historical backbone of the Black middle class. They created a way when there was no way, and they still do. If we let these institutions slip away, we lose parts of our history and culture forever.

The special brand of education that these schools have provided – and continue to provide – is rooted in our culture and history. Our practices may now be replicated in other institutions – with and without attribution – but make no mistake, these are our practices.

Yes, we can now say that we now enjoy the opportunity to enroll at major institutions across the country and around the world. That’s in part because generations of African Americans have “proved” our humanity and intelligence – generations who were educated at HBCUs. Every person in the Black community today owes an indebtedness to these institutions, the impact they have made on our lives, and their role in creating our future.

Each of us is morally obligated to continue to support our HBCUs whether we attended them or not: you are an honorary alumnus by birth.

Making it real

As we close out Black History Month for 2020, we can make a serious effort to support our HBCUs by adopting what we call The 12 x 84 HBCU Alumni Challenge. It’s not complicated: give $84 every month, 12 months a year, and you will have given $1,000 dollars. Give more if you can. Here are three ways: give to an HBCU in your community or one that you or your family attended; or give to the United Negro College Fund which funds private HCUs; or give to The Thurgood Marshall College Fund which supports publicly-supported HBCUs. It’s that easy. Set it up online and get busy giving. As African Americans, through our collective giving we can determine the destiny of our HBCUs.

Copyright 2020 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

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