History of HBCU Schools
HBCU stands for “Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” and the term dates back to 1837, 26 years before the end of slavery. Quaker philanthropist Richard Humpreys founded the Institute for Colored Youth to educate people of African descent. Today, this school is better known as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the oldest African American institution of higher learning.
However, with the end of slavery and the Civil War, other schools started to follow suit, especially when many states excluded black people from attending their land grant colleges. The second Morrill Act of 1890 was passed to require states to establish a separate land grant college for African Americans if they were being excluded from an existing land grant college. By 1902, 85 schools were set up with the goal to educate sons and daughters of former slaves.
Key HBCU Statistics
|Oldest HBCU School||Cheyney University of Pennsylvania||Founded in 1837|
|Largest HBCU School||North Carolina A&T State University||8,041 undergrads|
|Hardest HBCU School To Get Into||Fisk University||11 percent|
|Number of HBCU Schools||N/A||104|
While the culture surrounding these universities is tailored most to African American heritage, any student is eligible to apply and enroll, regardless of race or ethnic background. In fact, many publicly funded HBCUs are becoming more desegregated as the student body begins to reflect the racial demographics of the surrounding area, as is the case with West Virginia State University, a historically black college with a student population that is 64 percent white (as opposed to its 14 percent African American population), and Bluefield State College, an HBCU with a 90 percent white student body.
These are the Top HBCU Schools by Niche Overall Grade.
Niche Overall Grade
|B+||Spelman College||Atlanta||GA||2074||Private Non-Profit||Traditional|
|B||Florida A&M University||Tallahassee||FL||9100||Public||Traditional|
|B-||Fisk University||Nashville||TN||554||Private Non-Profit||Traditional|
|B-||Howard University||Washington||DC||6270||Private Non-Profit||Traditional|
|B-||Jackson State University||Jackson||MS||5506||Public||Traditional|
|B-||Morehouse College||Atlanta||GA||2220||Private Non-Profit||Traditional|
|B-||North Carolina A&T State University||Greensboro||NC||8041||Public||Traditional|
|B-||Tougaloo College||Tougaloo||MS||934||Private Non-Profit||Traditional|
|B-||Tuskegee University||Tuskegee||AL||2936||Private Non-Profit||Traditional|
Click here for a full list of HBCU colleges.
Famous HBCU Alumni
|Common||Florida A&M University|
|Toni Morrison||Howard University|
|Rev. Jesse Jackson||North Carolina A&T University|
|Sean "Puffy/P.Diddy/Diddy" Combs||Howard University|
|Samuel L. Jackson||Morehouse College|
|Jerry Rice||Mississippi Valley State University|
|Herman Cain||Morehouse College|
|Spike Lee||Morehouse College|
|Alice Walker||Spelman College|
|Wanda Sykes||Hampton University|
|Oprah Winfrey||Tennessee State University|
The Bottom Line
Today, there are 104 HBCU institutions in America. While HBCUs qualify as a small percentage of the nation’s institutions of higher learning, 20 percent of African Americans that earn undergraduate degrees do so from from these colleges and universities. These schools may have come from a troubled period in United States history, but today they hold a legacy that continues to support students from all walks of life, of any color and background.