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Historically Black colleges and universities

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In the United States, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) (a type of Minority Serving Institution or MSI) are colleges or universities that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the African-American community. Before 1964, African-Americans were almost always excluded from higher education opportunities at the predominantly white colleges and universities—with notable exceptions such as the integrated Oberlin College in Ohio.

There are more than 100 historically black colleges in the United States, located almost exclusively in the southern and eastern states (four HBCUs are located in the midwestern states, two each in Missouri and Ohio; one is in the Virgin Islands). Morehouse College and Spelman College have been described as the Harvard College and the Radcliffe College, respectively, of the historically black higher-education institutions in the United States. Howard University, Hampton University and Tuskegee University are other significant HBCUs.

Famous graduates of historically black colleges include Andrew Young Jr., Toni Morrison, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Ralph Ellison, W.E.B. DuBois, Hazel R. O'Leary, and Booker T. Washington.

Historically black colleges are not necessarily predominantly black today. One classic example can be found in West Virginia, whose population is nearly 95 percent white—higher than any other state outside of the three northern New England states. By 1964, the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, West Virginia State College (now West Virginia State University) had become primarily a commuter college with a student body well over 80 percent white, which it remains to this day. Throughout this time, the school's administration has been primarily African-American.


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