HBCUs are generally known for their “flavor” and Black history. Black colleges not only throw the best social and cultural events but produce many public figures, scholars, politicians and many more workers who graduated from these institutions and have contributed to society.
In 1867, nine historically Black colleges and universities were founded and established: Barber-Scotia College, Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Morehouse College, St. Augustine’s University, Talladega College, Alabama State University, Morgan State University and Howard University.
For these universities 2017 represents 150 years of Black excellence in education.
This week these institutions celebrate their Sesquicentennials. From Sept. 28-30 Morgan State University will host the HBCU-9 Sesquicentennial Summit.
1867 was an important year in the history of African Americans. There were substantial advances in civil rights such as the granting of voting rights to African-American men in Washington, D.C., which ultimately lead to the start of Reconstruction in the South with voter registration for African Americans.
Howard University is one of the more recognized institutions because of its numerous graduate and professional schools of study. Founded by Gen. Oliver O. Howard in 1867, the school was intended to educate African-American priests and has since become a top-10 HBCU. The institution produced the first Black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, as well as Nobel Prize winners, political officials, and Grammy-nominated artists
Talladega College was founded by former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, with the purpose of educating former slaves. It has become Alabama’s oldest private HBCU and prides itself on its tradition of educating teachers. The marching band is the biggest organization and it recently performed at the inauguration of President Donald Trump, which drew criticism from some graduates.
The purpose of the HBCU-9 joint celebration is not just about their coincidental milestones. Instead, the participants want “to focus the nation’s attention on the achievements of these institutions, and value as some of the nation’s hidden treasures. In addition, they wish to generate a national conversation on the critical role that HBCUs must play in 21st-century American education and what the nation must do, in its own best interest, to preserve and enhance them” according to the HBCU 9 United planning committee.
During the celebration, each of the nine schools will focus on the continuing legacy and accomplishments of their institutions and their influences, as well as on those of other HBCUs, to the making of this nation.
During the first three days of this Sesquicentennial Celebration, the institutions held a number of common activities on their own campuses including a worship service, a Sesquicentennial Tree-Planting Ceremony and student spoken-word and writing competitions on the importance of HBCUs.
Morgan State University will host activities during the last three days of the week in for an HBCU-9 Sesquicentennial Summit. The leaders, faculty, students and alumni of those institutions plan to conduct a major conversation about their legacies, their accomplishments and their challenges.
The Summit will include a performance by the United HBCU-9 Choir (composed of singers from all of the institutions), a torch relay of runners from all nine institutions, a round table discussion and fireside chat among the presidents and chancellors of the institutions and government and foundation leaders and a number of keynote addresses about the national imperative to support the nation’s HBCUs.
U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, D-North Carolina, co-chair of the bipartisan HBCU Caucus, is the keynote speaker. Three of the HBCU-9s are from Adams’ state.
Devon Ashby, Isaiah McLin and Marissa Black contributed to this report. The writers are students in the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication