HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) have the prestigious honor of always being committed to the mission of educating everyone regardless of race, but Evelyn and Hallease both attended a PWI (Predominately White Institution) and didn’t pledge Black Greek. In this episode, they discuss HBCU history and the myriad of reasons why prospective students consider attending them by touring Howard University. #HBCU #BackToSchool
CORRECTION: At 2:15 Fort Valley State University was not founded by the AMA.
– Over the decades we’ve enjoyed a solid handful
of references to HBCU’s and black Greek life
and pop culture.
– You could not tell me Hillman college wasn’t real
when I was a kid,
and I am so glad social media didn’t exist
when I was trying to recreate that Drumline scene.
Y’all know the one.
– And while we swooned over
Janelle Monae’s Electric Lady music video,
and played bootleg recordings
of Beyonce’s Coachella performance on loop
until we had the chance to play
the Netflix documentary on loop,
we can’t all the way relate actually.
– I mean, to be clear, we are not these guys.
But we attended a PWI and didn’t pledge a black sorority.
– Was that a mistake?
– I don’t know.
– We want to look past romanticized ideas
of house parties and step shows,
and understand the impact
that these institutions still have today.
– To do that, we have to understand the history
of black people in The United States
seeking higher education.
– Remember when we talked about reconstruction
after the civil war?
The emancipation of enslaved people brought with it
the challenge of building a new society
in which their humanity is now recognized.
– Freedmen’s Bureau hotline, how can I assist you today?
Oh, so you want to know if we have a database
of schools that actually accept black students?
They definitely wouldn’t do that.
Hi, so sorry, yeah I will have to get back to you,
once a school like that exists.
– Black folks weren’t allowed
to attend existing universities
so they had to form their own.
The first colleges for African Americans were mostly
established by black churches
with the support of The Freedmen’s Bureau
and the American Missionary Association.
– The AMA was a non-denominational abolitionist group
founded in 1846, and during reconstruction
they founded 11 colleges,
including Huston-Tillotson University here in Austin, Texas.
And together with the Freedmen’s Bureau, Howard University.
– We personally may not have an HBCU connection
but we got the PBS hook up and toured Howard,
thanks to our friends at PBS member station, WHUT.
– Hey y’all so I’m here in Washington D.C.
on Howard University’s campus at WHUT
and I am here with my friend
– Mikael, I’m the Creative Services Manager
here at WHUT, the first and still only HBCU
licensee of a public work out station.
So, I will be taking E out of these streets.
So, we gonna make sure that we can
get the gist of this campus.
– There you go.
– For those of you who don’t know, fun fact.
Howard was actually founded by a white guy.
– So Howard is named after
a union general Oliver Otis Howard.
Who was, at the time,
the commissioner of the Freedmans Bureau.
– Oh, he was about it.
And as much as a white guy
in post civil war US could be about it.
– But he invested something into the university.
Or into our experience that we would not have gotten.
That’s sometimes what you need is that first step
to make something as amazing
and as valuable as Howard university.
– While it’s not the oldest HBCU in the country
– That title goes to the Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
Founded in 1837,
it was originally called the African Institute,
and then the Institute for Colored Youth.
– Howard’s brand recognition comes from it’s
impressive alumni, making it an epicenter of culture.
– So, this is how change tends to happen.
People take action, and legislation follows.
It doesn’t quite fit, people take more action,
and legislation is updated.
It’s these series of steps over time
that create what future generations see as progress.
The first HBCU’s were private, funded by religious
or philanthropic groups and individuals.
But in 1890 the second Morrill Land Grant Act
specified that states using Federal higher education funds
must provide an education to black students.
Either by opening the doors of their public universities,
or by establishing new schools
specifically to serve black students.
Now, this is almost 70 years
before we even get to the integration
of our Alma Mater.
– In 1928 the Southern Association of Colleges
and Schools began formally surveying and accrediting HBCU’s.
It wasn’t until 1965, almost 100 years after
a school like Howard was founded,
that the Higher Education Act of 1965
formalized the HBCU definition.
Officially recognizing their contribution to education.
– Today, there are 105 HBCU’s.
They enroll 11% of black students in the US
while only representing <3% of colleges and universities
in the country.
Let that sink in.
– Though HBCUs were founded to educate black Americans,
anyone seeking education,
regardless of race, can enroll.
But think about it.
How cool is it to say your university has a legacy
of wanting to educate you.
Not through protest, but from the very beginning.
– And scholars have studied what HBCUs provide
through community cultural wealth.
School isn’t just about academics.
It’s also about adjusting to a new,
and somewhat controlled environment.
And if you feel socially estranged, alienated,
or even threatened by your peers,
it can take a toll on you and your grades.
– So, it’s no surprise that according to a report from
the National Science Foundation,
eight of the top 10 US institutions
producing black undergrads who went on
to earn science and engineering doctorates were HBCUs.
– So, this is the valley.
Known to most of our students as the valley,
it’s the home of all of our sciences.
– Got it.
– So, biology, chemistry, physics, and even pharmacy.
But this is where we make doctors.
– Now, what do you have to say for that decision
that 18 year old Hallease made?
– I wanted to become a film maker.
More specifically, a feature-film editor.
And the University of Texas at Austin
was the only affordable film program I knew about
at the time.
It really did come down to monetary resources
and income for me.
Which I think is something a lot of students
have to work through.
– That’s true.
– P.S., thank you Mom & Dad, for not cutting my funding.
Look at ya girl now!
Look at me.
We out here.
What about you?
– So, imagine my surprise when I learned after the fact
that an HBCU is literally down the highway from us.
– So, admittedly, I was a teenager
who was influenced by name recognition.
Nobody from an HBCU came to my High School
during those college fairs.
I didn’t know any Alumni.
And I always assumed HBCU’s were private,
out of state schools.
Which I could not afford.
– And affordability is an issue that can come up
among those seeking higher education.
HBCU’s, just like PWIs,
have received their fair share of scrutiny
when it comes to financial aid and available resources
to their students.
– But who knows, though?
If someone told us all this in High School
I could’ve been a Bison.
Or like, a Rattler.
– I also regret not participating
more in black Greek life while attending college.
As we mentioned before, it all adds up
to a collective of community cultural wealth.
And I missed out on establishing
potential professional relationships.
– While I didn’t pledge a sorority, black Greeks were
my social life saving grace.
Their events encouraged academic excellence,
made sure I was aware of resources, and yes, parties.
I attended all the parties.
– Greek life started here, really.
Because if it stayed at Cornell,
we’re not sure how well it would have caught fire.
You know, ’cause it’s a PWI, and there’s
in 1906 there’s a very limited amount
of African Americans that were going to Cornell University.
Without Howard sparking that fire,
Greek life may or may not have even happened, so.
– Yeah. – Kudos!
– And then it would have never trickled down
to where I went to school, University of Texas.
– As in Longhorns?
– Hook ’em horns!
– The national Pan-Hellenic Council
was formed on May 10th, 1930
and included the Omega Psi Phi, Kappa Alpha Psi,
Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta.
The following year, Alpha Phi Alpha,
and Phi Beta Sigma joined.
And by 1997, what we now call the “Divine Nine”
was complete, with the additions of Sigma Gamma Roe
in 1937, and Iota Phi Theta in 1997.
– The mission of the Divine Nine is unanimity
of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct
of Greek letter collegiate fraternities
and sororities, and to consider problems
of mutual interest to its member organizations.
– Basically, it’s like Harry Potter.
– You can be a Hufflepuff, or a Gryffindor.
– But at the end of the day, y’all all rep Hogwarts.
– And like the wonderful wizarding world,
they’re all down for some friendly competition.
– My name is Taylor Smith, I go to the
University of Texas at Austin,
and I am a member
of Delta Sigma Theta sorority incorporated.
So, Delta has been present all my life.
I’m not a legacy, so with me it was
that organization was heavily influenced
in my community.
So those are the women that I saw
doing most of the community service in my community,
my school teachers, people that was like sponsors
in certain organizations,
so they was like heavily influenced.
So, that was what made me wanna go that route.
So, strollin basically looks like an outside dance.
So it looks like a lot of people on a dance,
doing similar moves, the significance is Charlan.
To me, personally, I feel like
it’s a form of unity.
Showing that we’re all doing something together.
Okay so there’s nine black Greek organizations.
But then you have several different chapters
that falls under those organizations.
So, you may have one chapter, they have a certain
stroll that they do, that everybody knows
oh, this is that chapter that’s doin’ that.
– It’s because of their history
that HBCUs are still relevant today.
Classroom discrimination, hiring bias,
salary inequality, the chances of finding
someone who can guide you through these issues
is higher at an HBCU.
– Your network is your net worth.
– The community you cultivate through higher education
goes on to impact your adult life and connect you
to people you haven’t even met yet.
– There have been connections that’s been formed
I’ve met a lot more journalists,
’cause I’m a journalist major.
At your college undergrad year,
don’t let not being a part of an organization
or Greek organization in general, stop you
from building those connections.
So, however you were before you came into the Greek world
is how you’re gonna be once you go into the Greek world,
so if you use that person that’s making those connections
before, you’re gonna be the same person.
– So, if you had to give anybody watching that final push
to come to an HBCU, what would you say?
– First, I’m not gonna push you to go to an HBCU.
The choice is yours,
and just like anything else, not for everyone.
But, if you were to choose,
or you’re thinking about Howard University,
the historical value is not what you’re going to rest on.
What you make of this experience is what grows
the university, is what make HBCUs.
So, definitely do not choose Howard University
or any HBCU just because of the legacy.
Build on it’s future.
So, come in with a purpose.
Come in with intent.
Choose it because you value it,
and give it your all.
– That is good.
Back to you, or us.
– Just as a Harvard grad will perk up
a little bit more when a fellow Harvardian walks
into an interview, or if someone in a building yells.
– [Woman] Texas!
– [Both] Fight!
– At the end of the day, choosing an institution
for your higher education is a big decision
that only you can make.
HBCUs have a prestigious legacy of doing what
literally no other school wanted to do.
– For that reason alone, we can go ahead and dead these
HBCU vs PWI twitter wars.
We all got student loans, and made decisions based on what
we thought was best for us at the time.
As with any institution, you get what you put into it.
So, join organizations, don’t cut class,
don’t break a stroll line, and get to know your peers
because you never know.
You may just end up producing a PBS Digital Studio show
with one of them.
In the comments, we want to hear from y’all.
If you’re headed to an HBCU tell us why you picked it.
– If any alumni are watching,
drop some wisdom in the comments,
because we need them to focus on these books, okay?
– Give this episode a like,
subscribe, and follow us on social media
@sayitloudPBS and click here to watch
Sound Field explore New York’s
underground ballroom scene,
including Voguing and musical crashes.
And we’ll see you next time!
– [Both] Bye!
What’s your take? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all-access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class, and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group, and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.