The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) has provided a widely referenced answer to this question about the continued need for HBCUs on its Website (http://www.uncf.org/members/aboutHBCU.asp). An extensive excerpt appears below:
- HBCUs graduate over 50 percent African American professionals.
- HBCUs graduate over 50 percent of African American public school teachers and 70 percent of African American dentists.
- 50 percent of African Americans who graduate from HBCUs go on to graduate or professional schools.
- HBCUs award more than one in three of the degrees held by African Americans in natural sciences.
- HBCUs award one-third of the degrees held by African Americans in mathematics.
- According to a 2004 McKinsey study, the average graduation rate at many HBCUs is higher than the average graduation rate for African Americans at majority institutions.“
- HBCUs should demonstrate significantly greater competence in the education of African American students than majority institutions of higher learning.
- Attending HBCUs led by competent administrators and manned by qualified faculty exposes African American students to a broader range of career role models than they would find at most predominantly White colleges and universities.
It’s one thing to read about Black chemists, Black physicists, or Black mathematicians in high school classes during Black History Month; it’s quite another to sit in their classes. It’s one thing to read about high level Black managers; it’s quite another to see them up close, making important decisions. The legal restrictions of slavery and segregation may have been abolished, but the capacities of many African American students to take maximum advantage of the opportunities available to them in today’s society are often impeded by self-imposed limits. Few of us are pioneers … or want to be. Most people need to see that others have already gone down lesser-known paths to be sure that passage down such paths is even possible. In other words, many African American students still need African American role models and mentors to inspire them to realize their fullest potential, and the more role models the better.
- Possessing an extensive roster of career role models, HBCUs can also provide African American students with another important advantage: the academic freedom they need in order to work out their personal strategies for coping with the demeaning and distracting racism that still pervades American society.
Contrary to the national media, no one speaks for all Black people. There are no "Black Popes". This is commonly accepted at HBCUs, so their students do not engage in mutually destructive "Blacker-than-thou" games. Nor do HBCU professors indulge their students' misperceptions, something that happens all too frequently on predominantly White campuses where liberal professors are guilted into subverting academic standards they had sworn allegiance to all of their adult lives.
Rather than pay their Black students the ultimate courtesy of honest disagreement, they stand mute in the face of the most inane gibberish -- “Gee, I always thought that two plus two was four … but maybe it’s five for Black People“. The existence of a broader range of African American role models among an HBCU’s faculty, staff, and senior administrators exposes African American students to a broader range of coping strategies from which to choose. At HBCUs, African American students -- as well as African American faculty, staff, and senior administrators -- are free to be any shade of Black they want to be. ... :-)