Popular culture might lead you to believe that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are nothing more than repositories for fraternities, sororities and charismatic marching bands.

But the reality is that the nation’s 105 HBCUs are more than homecomings and step shows. HBCUs are, and have always been, laboratories for cultivating genius in minority populations.

While composing only about 3 percent of the nation’s  more than 3,600 institutions of higher learning, 105 HBCUs produce 21 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans and 13 percent of all master’s degree recipients, according to recent statistics.

In fact, Spelman and Bennett colleges produce nearly half of the nation’s Black women who go on to earn doctorates in all science fields. Xavier University repeatedly ranks No. 1 in sending African-Americans to medical school, and Howard University continues to produce more African-American doctors than nearly any other institution.

Service. Community engagement.  Innovation. Leadership. These principles are the life-blood of  HBCUs, and they must be the message that we send to the masses.

Check our pedigree. Our ambassadors include: Kamala Harris, the first woman District Attorney in San Francisco’s history. She’s a Howard University graduate. There’s also Dr. Regina Benjamin, the current U.S. Surgeon General. She’s a proud Xavier alum.

HBCUs breed excellence. Sure, we know how to buggy. And, yes, fraternities, sororities and  marching bands are inextricably woven into our institutions’ tapestry.

But what  movies, and sometimes institutions, fail to highlight is how HBCU students and alumni change the world. We are tutoring, mentoring, ministering, starting businesses, and creating scholarship funds (wink wink).

Consider Amelia J. Cobb,  director of Ending Violence Against Women: The HBCU Project, a Washington, D.C.-based initiative. A Howard University graduate,  Cobb is working to make her world a better place through research and action.

There’s also Rev. Dr. Gregory Groover Sr., pastor of Charles Street A.M.E. Church in Massachusetts and chairman of the Boston School Committee. Groover, a Morehouse graduate, is saving souls on Sundays and helping others pursue education Monday through Friday.

Until next time,

Give H.O.P.E. Live H.O.P.E.

Michelle Janaye
Assistant Director
The H.O.P.E. Scholarship