For over 150 years, HBCUs have been serving the Black community with not only higher education opportunities, but also a chance to celebrate the uniqueness of Black culture. These institutions are enriched with excellence from important leaders, historical buildings, and overall history. To shine light on just some of the interesting facts about HBCUs, we created a list of seven things that people might not know about these fundamental colleges.
1. Omega Psi Phi was the first fraternity to be created at an HBCU. It was founded in 1911 at Howard University by Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper, and Frank Coleman. The major organization's headquarters are in Decatur, Georgia.
2. Robert Charles Bates was the first Black certified architect in the United States and a graduate from Claflin University in South Carolina. Bates established the first architecture program to be offered at an HBCU in the late 19th century and taught the first architecture class in America to be offered at an HBCU.
3. Texas Southern University was initially created as a response to Black students being denied entrance at the University of Texas due to their race. In 1951, the original Texas State University was changed to Texas Southern after a series of protests.
4. Spelman College, originally founded as Atlanta College, was founded by two Caucasian women, Harriet E. Giles and Sophia B. Packard in 1881. Due to the large donations from The Rockefellers, Spelman was named after John Rockefeller’s wife, Laura Spelman. Four years later, the first Black woman, Sophia Jones, M.D. became the first Black woman to be on staff.
5. James Weldon Johnson, the composer of the infamous “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is an alum of Atlanta University which is known as Clark Atlanta University today. This Black National Anthem began as a poem to his brother, John Rosamond Johnson in 1899.
6. Over 80% of all Black Americans with degrees in medicine and dentistry have graduated from Howard University and Meharry Medical College.
7. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is the oldest HBCU in America history. Cheyney was founded in 1837 by Quaker philanthropist, Richarch Humphreys.