I stepped onto the campus of Howard University sight unseen. My guidance counselor told me I was going to Howard. She believed in me and guided me in that decision. All I knew was they gave me a full academic scholarship and that was enough for me to make my plans to move to D.C.
Way back in that summer of 1987, I could not even have imagined how transformational it would be for me to attend an HBCU. For one, it was that history was all around us. As a freshman, I lived in Tubman Quadrangle, as a senior I lived in Bethune Hall. We knew that greatness was our legacy, from our esteemed alumni and faculty to current students using their gifts to impact the world.
I remember drinking in knowledge of African kingdoms that I had never heard of in my minor classes, and being blown away to learn about COINTELPRO in my political science class. Howard did more than teach me academics, it opened my mind and experience to knowledge and strengthened by critical thinking skills.
But Howard was also FUN. Being on the yard was an experience. Celebrating Homecoming was memorable. Working at The Hilltop was illuminating. Evangelizing with Campus Crusade was fulfilling. Laughing with friends that you would have for life was all of that.
We seem to have these ebbs and flows when it comes to HBCUs. With Kamala Harris as vice president, and truly all the craziness we experienced under 45, people are again in large numbers considering the HBCU experience.
Some people may question if HBCUs are still relevant, but I have to admit that the freedom I felt to strive for excellence and to be proud of my blackness, I have not experienced outside of that HBCU life. And lest some question why Black folks always seem to be creating their own thing, let's remember that the origins of that often lie in racism or underrepresentation. What we created out of necessity, now fuels our most excellent selves.
I am a proud alum. And I hope you will join the discussion for this week's episode of Soapbox Diaries with our guest Jared Bryson, founder of We Are HBCUs. You can find his website at www.wearehbcus.com.
Listen to Season 5, Episode 4 of Soapbox Diaries
Click Link: We Are HBCUs