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WHAT IS AN HBCU?
They are institutions of higher education in the U. S. that were established prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that are accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting entity. The first HBCUs (Cheyney University, Lincoln University and Wilberforce University) were established before 1861, but most were founded after the American Civil War in the Southern U.S. during the period of Reconstruction (1863-1877).
After Reconstruction, in the era of segregation prior to the Civil Rights Act, the majority of institutions of higher education served predominantly white students and disqualified or limited enrollment by black students. For a century after the end of slavery in the U.S. in 1865, most colleges and universities in the South prohibited any Blacks from attending, while institutions in other parts of the country regularly employed quotas to limit admissions of Blacks.
Currently, there are 107 HBCUs in the country in 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including both public and private institutions.
HBCUs have experienced an 11% increase in enrollment in recent decades that continued even during the pandemic, and almost 340,00 students presently attend HBCUs. Among many notable graduates of HBCUs are Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Toni Morrison, Thurgood Marshall, Spike Lee and Kamala Harris.
The Denyce Graves Foundation (DGF) launched its flagship program, Shared Voices in September 2022 in Washington, D.C. at Howard University. Howard is a private, federally chartered HBCU that is renowned for its medical training and research. It offers undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in some 120 programs, more than any other HBCU in the nation.
From its founding in 1867, Howard has been nonsectarian and open to all people. Shortly after the end of the American Civil War, members of the First Congregational Society of Washington, D.C. considered creating a theological seminary for the education of black clergymen and, within a few weeks, the project expanded to include the establishment of a university.
The new institution, which initially consisted of the colleges of liberal arts and medicine, was named for General Oliver Otis Howard, a Civil War hero, who was both the founder of the University and, at the time, Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau. Under President Howard's leadership, Howard University educated over 150,000 freed slaves in its first five years of operation.
The U.S. Congress chartered Howard on March 2, 1867, and much of its early funding came from private philanthropy and tuition. Today, Howard receives an annual Congressional appropriation, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, to support the University and University Hospital, and it is the only federally chartered, private HBCU.
As one of four HBCUs in the initial cohort of participants in Shared Voices, Howard's Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts was a fitting venue for the launch of the DGF program. The College's Dean Phylicia Rashad and the late Chadwick Boseman are among notable Howard alumni as are Vice President Kamala Harris, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sean Combs, Toni Morrison, Jessye Norman, and AndrewYoung, Jr.
Your generous donation to the Denyce Graves Foundation supports our efforts in bringing Shared Voices to more of our nation’s vocal arts programs, to enrich the lives of more students, and help encourage a cultural landscape within the vocal arts at American universities that reflects the diverse world in which we live.