A Letter to HBCUs
Boston, July 29, 2023 –
Dear Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs),
I write to you today with a mix of emotions, as our nation grapples with a recent Supreme Court decision that eliminates affirmative action for college admissions. This decision reflects a broader mindset in our country. It has unfortunately perpetuated the harmful notion that we need to dismantle the resources that pave the way for people of color and historically marginalized populations to thrive. However, amidst these disheartening circumstances, it is crucial to acknowledge and celebrate the significant impact that you have made in the higher education space and your role in producing a wide range of accomplished professionals.
You have long served as pillars of strength and beacons of hope within our educational landscape. You have served as sanctuaries, providing the nurturing environment and unwavering support necessary for Black students to excel academically, socially, and culturally. Despite the challenging systemic barriers faced by our community, you have remained steadfast in your commitment to empowering generations of Black students by fostering their holistic development.
The recent Supreme Court decision underscores the need for us to strengthen our support for HBCUs and reaffirm your crucial role in shaping the future of Black education. Data from recent years demonstrate a positive trend in HBCU enrollment, with increasing numbers of Black students choosing you as their academic homes. This demonstrates a recognition of HBCUs as centers of excellence that not only provide a quality education but also offer a nurturing community that fosters cultural pride, mentorship, and a sense of belonging.
As Jarvis Givens eloquently states in his book “Fugitive Pedagogy,” HBCUs are “spaces where students of color can engage in a liberatory education.”
You have proven time and again that you provide a transformative, immeasurable educational experience that empowers students to excel academically, pursue their passions, and contribute meaningfully to society. You have nurtured and empowered individuals who have gone on to become influential leaders, thinkers, doctors, lawyers, educators, and more. Your significant role in shaping the trajectory of Black success cannot be overstated.
It is important to acknowledge the challenges and obstacles faced by our community in the pursuit of higher education. The decision to eliminate affirmative action further compounds these challenges, making it even more critical for us to come together and champion the cause of HBCUs. We must ensure that you continue to receive the support and resources necessary to provide world-class education, exceptional mentorship, and opportunities for personal and professional growth.
While we fight the unjust decision, let us also embrace this moment with determination and purpose. As HBCUs, you must continue to provide an unparalleled educational experience that cultivates intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and a profound sense of cultural identity. You must invest in cutting-edge research, innovative programs, and comprehensive support systems that empower our students to excel in their chosen fields. You must center teacher preparation programs to ensure that we transform all schools into places where our children can thrive, from preschool through college. We are here to join you on that quest.
Together, let us reaffirm our commitment to you. Let us uplift and celebrate your rich legacies while simultaneously shaping your vibrant futures. As we navigate the shifting landscape of education in our nation, we have the unique opportunity to reshape the narrative, redefine success on our own terms, and ensure that the next generation of Black thinkers and leaders are not only well-educated but also inspired to become educators themselves.
In the words of Carter G. Woodson, “If you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race, he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race.” By nature, this is what you do everyday.
Robert J. Hendricks III
CEO & Founder
He is Me Institute