The Future of Black Colleges

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

William Jelani Cobb, associate professor of history at Spelman College, contributing writer for Essence Magazine, and the author of The Devil & Dave Chappelle, talks about the future of all-black colleges.


William Jelani Cobb

Comments [23]

James Withers from Chelsea

"Get over the race issue already!"

I always love when this canard is thrown out.



Dec. 31 2008 08:54 AM
Brooke from Brooklyn from Brooklyn

I graduated from an HBCU, Fisk University, more than 30 years ago and I know I got a great education which provided an excellent foundation for my success at the white universities where I attended graduate school. However, the HBCUs of yesteryear are not the HBCUs of today. Many of them have outlived their purpose and have lowered their academic standards of excellence to still have a student body; most have become little more than glorified remedial training schools with limited equipment, materials and facilities to keep students current with today's educational marketplace.

A few schools like Spelman, Morehouse, Howard University and Hampton should be maintained because they have continued to grow and be competitive as well as historically representative of an historical period that hasn't completely disappeared but most of them should be closed, merged, upgraded or seriously revamped if they are going to serve a useful purpose to anyone.

Dec. 30 2008 01:13 PM
Ciesse from Manhattan

'The past is the past,' but it's not far enough yet in the past. Blacks are historically AND presently underserved in this country. HBCUs provide a focused and empowering environment for black students -- as caller Juanita attested to. As an Asian-American, I would be proud to teach at a HBCU.

Dec. 30 2008 11:36 AM
David! from NYC

The United Methodist Church supports more HBCU's in the US than any other religious body and has bylaws to fund them. Learn more here: http://www.gbhem.org/site/c.lsKSL3POLvF/b.3486287/k.BBD3/Black_College_Fund.htm

Dec. 30 2008 11:29 AM

I feel like something is missing here.

Is this taxpayer supported or do the students pay? If the second, it's a non issue.

If it is so essential to black culture that these insititions remain then people who feel that way must find a way to support this place privately.

Lots of institutions are supported this way!!!!

Dec. 30 2008 11:28 AM
anonyme from NY NY

HEY!!! As the product of 12 years of Catholic school, 4 of them all girls, then of art school, I agree that it's perfectly valid to have "specialty" institutions - and I for one would not like to see our black heritage overwhelmed by the predominant culture! That would be something like the gentrification of Manhattan which has taken so much away from us culturally. (We are an arts city only institutionally now - and we are not a city of ideas any more either - we became a city of money (and chain stores) and now with the finaancial industry in shambles - what are we?

Dec. 30 2008 11:28 AM
Bob from Bloomfield, NJ

There is no right or wrong here, but if students are worried that they may get a break because they are black they need to get over it. Would it be wrong to get preference because a professor likes guys, gals, Northerners, Southerners, immigrants, art students, etc.? Maybe we should all go to college on the Internet - NOT!

Dec. 30 2008 11:27 AM
Martin from Forest Hillls

Colleges have always been tailored to prepare students from specific perspectives, be it Cal Tech's focus on engineering, or Bryn Mawr's focus on women's issues. Historically-black colleges acknowledge race as a factor in American life. To eliminate them would be to pretend that race is no longer a subject worthy of focused study.

Dec. 30 2008 11:27 AM
aaron from UWS Manhattan

Your guests attitude, which is common, is a big reason for the large disparity between the success of AA's and the expatriots from Africa and the Caribbean. Get over the race issue already!

Dec. 30 2008 11:26 AM
Katrina from South Orange NJ

You are all missing the point. There is not a single HBCU in existence today that restricts enrollment to black or any other race. In fact, much of the discussion among black college students is whether those HBCUs are in fact, recruiting white and Asian students. I am a graduate of Hampton University, where the engineering and physics department (both growing in recognition) are more and more white, Indian, and otherwise ethnically diverse. Everyone needs to update their thinking by about 20 years.

That being said, my position is that all colleges should exist on the basis of their academic credentials and reputation, and ability to maintain funding. Schools like Hampton and Spelman are able to thrive. Some other schools, including some HBCUs, won't. That's that.

Dec. 30 2008 11:26 AM
O from Forest Hills

The past is the past and I don't see a problem with referring to them as "historically black" that is fine, but not all whites ever saw the need for segregation is correct.

To say all whites are racist is a generalization and a stereotype which is not true or accurate.

Times have changed, but let's not forget about the white people that were part of the underground railroad and fought for abolition. There have always been people that were colorblind and loved everyone. There have always been interracial couples. I am surprised at how many people I meet black or white that think "mixing the races" is wrong. you love who you love, skin color shouldn't be the factor, do they respect you and love you and treat you right that is what counts.

Dec. 30 2008 11:23 AM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

OH this caller is laughable, wonder if he marched against segregation in the 50's 60's?

Dec. 30 2008 11:21 AM
Stephen from Brooklyn

Actually there is data that clearly indicates that many students black and white do better at HBC's than other schools.

Dec. 30 2008 11:20 AM

(Although -- the only thing I learned in college was about people who were different than myself. Fared me well in this multiracial society.)

Dec. 30 2008 11:18 AM
James Withers from Chelsea

Predominately black schools have always been open in terms of admission. Last year's Morehouse's valedictorian was white.



Dec. 30 2008 11:18 AM
David! from NYC

Brian, please ask Dr. Cobb whether he's aware of any other moves to merge either in other states or among private/parochial HBCU's.

Dec. 30 2008 11:17 AM

Yes. If enough people want a black college -- enough to pay for it -- then who on earth has the right to say "no"?


Dec. 30 2008 11:13 AM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

These type institutions are a part of history. Hopefully the future will very positive for them, anyone should be allowed to attend, but I don't believe the title should change, they should forever be known as "Historically Black" Institutions of higher learning.

Dec. 30 2008 11:12 AM
David! from NYC

Some whites never did see a need for segregation.

Dec. 30 2008 11:11 AM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

Excuse me, some white people.

Dec. 30 2008 11:08 AM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

How convenient that white people now do not see a need for segregation.

Dec. 30 2008 11:08 AM
O from Forest Hills

I'm a white woman and if I wanted to go to this college, I should be able to. Segregation is over. That is in the past. We are all the same under our skin, same organs, blood is the same color, we need to stop looking at the skin color.

Dec. 30 2008 10:52 AM
O from Forest Hills

I don't think segregation of any kind is good. It sets back the Civil Rights movement hundreds of years and you can't have it both ways.

Dec. 30 2008 10:48 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.