Why HBCUs are Still Important

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, there was a groundbreaking show called “A Different World.” It was set on the campus of Hillman College, a fictional historically black college. Every Thursday night, households all across America were invited into the world of HBCUs.

Cast of 'A Different World"

 

As a child, I was absolutely mesmerized by the raw energy, community, and culture at Hillman. I’d never seen anything like it before. My mom, a graduate of Savannah State College, used to tell me stories of HBCU life at Savannah State, but seeing it on the TV screen made it palpable. It made it real.

So it was no surprise that I ended up attending Spelman College. Spelman is an all women’s HBCU and one of the on-set filming locations of “A Different World.”

Although I was a 4.0 student in high school and took honors and AP classes, I’d never heard the term “African Diaspora” until I stepped foot onto Spelman’s campus. At Spelman, I learned about Chinua Achebe, James Baldwin, and Black Wall Street. I experienced sisterhood, community, and camaraderie in ways that are difficult to explain.

Spelman is located in close proximity to four other HBCUs, so I also took classes at Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University and Morris Brown College. I went to football games, homecoming parades, coronations, concerts, speaker series, and step shows. But most importantly, I learned to truly love myself because, for four years, I was surrounded by a community that uplifted, affirmed and embraced me and my culture in ways that my predominately white elementary, middle and high schools never could.

And that’s the heart of "The ABCs of HBCUs." It takes children on a front-row, all-inclusive tour of historically black colleges and universities. Filled with rhythm and rhyme, readers will travel across the United States and even stop in the Virgin Islands to visit dozens of HBCUs. They’ll learn about the role that Greek life, marching bands, and other important traditions have on HBCU culture.

Did you know that there’s an HBCU in the Virgin Islands?

Did you know that 80 percent of African-American judges attend HBCUs?

Did you know that students at North Carolina A&T were central to the Civil Rights movement?

Chock-full of fun facts and stunningly illustrated by Spelman College alumna, Jessica Boyd,"The ABCs of HBCUs" is a must-have for any book library.