Life in HBCU

Thousands of African American students enrolled in what is today known as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). These fortunate men and women were considered to be part of the “Talented Tenth” - the elite top 10 percent, members of the race who contributed to racial uplift and combated racism, paving the way for equality for the black community.

On October 26, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Howard to dedicate the newly erected chemistry building. Built with appropriations from the federal government, the chemistry building marked the first time a historically black college or university received more than $1 million (USD) in funds dedicated to a science facility.
Born shortly after the capital of the Confederate states was liberated at the conclusion of the Civil War, Virginia Union College was established as a private school to educate newly emancipated freedmen and women.
Noteworthy for their dapper style, Virginia Union students in the 1930s also became accomplished alumni: Spottswood Robinson III - civil rights attorney and federal judge; Robert Deane Pharr - acclaimed author; Bessye Bearden - journalist, mother of Romare Bearden; Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. - Vice Admiral, United States Navy
One of the most influential professors to teach at Atlanta University was W.E.B Du Bois, head of the sociology department. Du Bois was the first African American to earn a Ph. D. from Harvard University, co-founder of the Niagara Movement, and author of the influential work “The Souls of Black Folk”.
“He lifted the veil of ignorance from his people and pointed the way to progress through education and industry.” In the New Deal, the Tuskegee Institute was also the home and training ground for the famed Tuskegee Airmen, who first served during World War II.
George Washington Carver was head of the Agriculture Department. In his long tenure at the school, Carver conducted his groundbreaking research in botany, chemistry, and agriculture - notably inventing over 100 products and uses for peanuts and soybeans.
Xavier University is unique as an HBCU as it was founded by Saint Katherine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament - the only historically black Roman Catholic school in the nation.
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