Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Cultivating Black Intellectualism and Economic Growth

by Larry J. Walker and Ramon B. Goings


Historically black colleges and universities have produced luminaries including Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey, Toni Morrison, Ella Baker, and Jesse Jackson, among others.

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Cover image for Historically Black Colleges and Universities

December 2020


Pages 258
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Race and Ethnicity/African American Studies
  American History/Race and Ethnicity
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Examines how historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) developed the black intelligentsia, allowing members of the black community to enter the middle class; and the relationships among HBCUs, black intellectualism, and economic prosperity.

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) play an important role in higher education. Since their inception, they have attracted and nurtured intellectuals including Toni Morrison, Thurgood Marshall, and W.E.B. Du Bois, among others. African Americans and other underserved populations sought solace from de jure and de facto segregation at HBCUs.

While African American students can attend predominately white institutions (PWIs), HBCUs continue to produce a significant number of black professionals in education, dentistry, law, medicine, and STEM fields. Generations of African Americans who since have completed undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees at HBCUs have found well-paying jobs and entered the middle class.

At the same time, despite encountering discriminatory education, employment, and housing practices, many graduates created black enclaves after buying homes, and their children and grandchildren benefitted from their struggles, including the fight to integrate into workspaces. Examining the role of HCBUs not only in higher education but also in directing social dynamics and economic policy outside of institutions is, therefore, paramount.


  • Examines historical and contemporary issues contributing to the success of HBCUs
  • Investigates the interconnected relationships among race, education, and income
  • Highlights how HBCUs created a cadre of black academics and thinkers
  • Discusses the role of HBCUs in the global economy and considers how black economic prosperity affects the United States
Author Info

Larry J. Walker, EdD, is a researcher and education consultant. He is a former Capitol Hill staffer and coeditor of Graduate Education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): A Student Perspective.

Ramon B. Goings, EdD, is professor of educational leadership at Loyola University Maryland. His research interests are centered on exploring the academic and social experiences of gifted/high-achieving black males from pre-K to PhD, promoting nontraditional student success, diversifying the teacher and school leader workforce, and investigating the contributions of historically black colleges and universities.

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