Background On Historically Black Colleges And Universities
From their arrival on the shores of the United States, African Americans have thirsted for knowledge and viewed education as the key to their freedom. These enslaved people pursued education despite laws, in all Southern states, barring them from learning to read and write. In the North, free Blacks pursued education at three colleges for African Americans: Wilberforce University in Ohio and Lincoln and Cheyney Universities in Pennsylvania. With the end of the Civil War, the enormous task of educating millions of Blacks was shouldered by the federal government, through the Freedman’s Bureau, and many Northern church missionaries. As early as 1865, the Freedmen’s Bureau began establishing HBCUs, staffed with mainly male staff and teachers with military backgrounds. During the post-Civil War period, most HBCUs were so in name only; these institutions generally provided primary and secondary education during the first decades of their existence.