HBCUs have long been held as a Black students’ home away from home – where they can receive the education they deserve while escaping the racism – ranging from implicit biases to horrific overt acts of violence – that can plague other predominantly white institutions.
However, enrollment in HBCUs has been on the decline, as the Washington Post notes, until recently where we are witnessing a resurge in interest and enrollment at the institutions that were borne out of battling racism in education during segregation.
The most recent federal data shows that in fall 2017, enrollment into these historical Black universities and colleges was up to 298,138, a 2.1 percent increase from 2016, an increase that came despite the fact that enrollment has continued to decline across all U.S. colleges and universities.
According to the Post, HBCUs have seen a resurge in their attraction, as the United States continues to grapple with its dark history and the virulent reappearance of overt racism and violence.
Earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual “Year in Hate” report, which showed that hate groups have continued to grow in 2018, bolstered by President Donald Trumps insistence in fanning the flames of “white resentment over immigration and the country’s changing demographics.”
In light of that, HBCUs have once again become a haven.
The Post spoke to students at the 20th Annual Black College Expo held at Bowie State University in Maryland, who expressed those sentiments.
“It’s nice to be around people who can relate to you,” 17-year-old Leon Smith, from Upper Marlboro, Md. told the Post.
“You always want to be in a situation where you feel comfortable,” Jesse White, who attended Expo with his 18-year-old added. “And when you think about the political environment in this country right now. . . .”
It’s something that admissions officials have taken note of, and understand.
“When you think about what happened in Virginia a few years ago and things like that — students want to be on a campus where they feel safe,” Shanice Pereira, an admissions officer at Morgan State University in Baltimore, said referencing the infamous Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville that killed one counter-protester, Heather Heyer, and injured several others. “It’s something that impacts students and their thinking.”