The number of non-Black students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) continues to climb. Statistics show that the student body’s of these traditionally Black schools is changing, with an average of 1 in 4 students not being Black. The statistics were compiled through research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. There are multiple reasons this is happening, and here are some of them:
1. Legal Definition of HCBU
An HBCU is defined under the Higher Education Act of 1965 as a school “whose principal mission was, and is the education of Black Americans.” What Congress did not define in this legislation is whether or not HBCU’s could continue to be classified as an HBCU if their historically Black student body changed to become mostly white. This means that HBCU’s whose student body’s are made up of mostly white students are still able to receive federal funding meant to benefit Black students.
2. The Premature Declaration of a ‘Post-Racial World’
The election of Barack Obama is pointed to as a significant indication that we now live in a post=racial world where equal access and opportunity for Black people is the norm, making the concept of the HBCU irrelevant and even redundant. This has perpetuated the notion that HBCU’s do not need to be preserved because they are no longer needed. However, racial disparities still exist as evidenced by the fact that Black people still lag behind in quality-of-life indicators and education benchmarks compared to white people, meaning the declaration of a post-racial world is more a myth than a reality.