History of African Americans and Higher Education

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For blacks, the history of higher education typically points to segregated education. Before the Civil War, the social system promoted the belief that blacks wouldn’t get return on their time spent in higher education. Brown and Ricard (2007) noted that most North institutions were reluctant to allow black enrollment in colleges and universities, and in the South, where slaveholder’s were still powerhouse businessmen, slaves would never be allowed to become more educated than their owners. The reluctance of the White leaders to allow blacks to formally be accepted into higher education programs held blacks back from achieving what many aspired to, and were fully capable of, experience.
Through research of the literature, this paper will explore the history of black experiences in higher education, and the effects of historically black colleges on the field.
Despite the roadblocks, Gurin and Epps (2002) estimated that 28 blacks were able to graduate from American colleges before the Civil War. The first school known to be a black institution is Cheyney University located in Pennsylvania and was founded in 1837. From 1865 through 1877, with the help from whites, a small amount of black institutions were established before the Civil War, with the goal of developing teachers and preachers. After the Civil War, approximately 50 private colleges and universities were founded, with the goal of serving the black community. The North helped establish thousands of elementary and secondary schools to provide education to the ex-slaves, and some of the people teaching them were the educated blacks.
After the Civil War ended, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments motivated states to start supporting education for ex-slaves and black American...

... middle of paper ... as W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, have had on blacks in higher education has affected the field for more than just African Americans. That’s the type of transformative leadership that was needed to revolutionize higher education.

Works Cited

Anderson, J. (n.d.). Historically black colleges and universities. Retrieved from

Brown II, M. C., & Ricard, R. B. (2007). The honorable past and uncertain future of the nation’s HBCUs. Thought & Action, 117.

Gosda, R. T. (2002). Booker T. Washington. Abdo Publishing Company.

Roebuck, J. B., & Murty, K. S. (1993). Historically Black colleges and universities: Their place in American higher education. Westport, CT: Praeger.

University of Michigan. Institute for Social Research. [Publications]. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Institute of Social Research.
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