By: Cadence Wright
At one time Blacks could not go to White schools. So, Black people had to start their own colleges. Some colleges began in churches. A lot of them even started in houses. Many of the early Black Colleges were burned down by the KKK. The KKK did not want Black people to be educated. Black people were very mad about losing their schools but they rebuilt them from scratch.
The first Black college was the Institute For Colored Youth in Cheyney, Pennsylvania in 1837.
Many people in my family went to Southern University. My dad, my Uncle Gerald, my Granny, and my Aunt Debbie all went to Southern. Southern University is known for it’s Law and Engineering programs. My Uncle Gerald is an Engineer at Disney World in Florida. He earned his degree from Southern. Their band is called the “Human Jukebox”.
Many famous people went to Southern including rappers Common and David Banner, Randy Jackson from American Idol, and General Russell Honore’ who saved many lives during Hurricane Katrina. The first Black Governor of Louisiana, P.B.S. Pinchback was one of the founders of Southern University.
Another great Black College is Grambling St. University. It is known for it’s legendary Football Team. Coach Eddie Robinson built a legacy and a winning tradition at Grambling. The first Black Quarterback to win a Super Bowl was Doug Williams. He graduated from Grambling.
My Nana lives in Dallas, TX. Last year they got their first female Police Chief. Her name is Ulysha Renee Hall and she is also a graduate of Grambling. Grammy Award Winning Singer, Erykah Badu, went to Grambling. She has a weird name but my mom and dad loves her music. It just sounds like old people’s music to me.
Sometimes, when I go visit my Nana in Dallas we pass through Marshall, TX. That’s where Wiley College is. It’s a smaller college in East Texas but has a big reputation. It is known for it’s Award Winning Debate Team. They even made a movie about 20 years ago called, The Great Debaters. The star of the movie is a man that my Granny and my Nana say is their “other boyfriend”. His name is Denzel Washington.
Dr. C.O. Simpkins, a well known Civil Rights Leader, Author, and Dentist in Shreveport, LA graduated from Wiley College.
Dillard University is in New Orleans, LA. Their campus is all white and clean. My dad takes me to a lot of their basketball games and he knows a lot of people who work there. Last year, Dr. Kiki Barnes let me and my brother go on the court with the basketball team and we met the players.
Dillard was started by a church in 1868. At first they named it Straight University. It became Dillard University in 1930. Today it is one of the most prestigious Historically Black Colleges in America. They always have community forums there and many famous people stop by Dillard when they come to New Orleans. Even Michelle Obama spoke at Dillard. Women’s Right’s Activist and wife of Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Alice Dunbar Nelson, graduated from Dillard. So did Jazz legend, Ellis Marsalis, Jr.
There are many Black Colleges in America. I don’t know what college I am going to yet. There are too many that I like. Most of my family went to Southern but Grambling always wins at the Bayou Classic. I like LSU and Tulane but me and my brother always have so much fun when we go to Dillard! I also like University of Miami but my dad says Morehouse is a good school too.
Learning about the Black Colleges makes me appreciate them more. I will definitely consider choosing an HBCU when I graduate. I have five more years to figure it out and my granny is going to kill me if Southern isn’t somewhere on my list!