States Have a Legacy of Underfunding Black Colleges

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been an integral part of America’s higher education system for more than 150 years. These institutions were established to provide quality education to Black students and have played a critical role in shaping Black culture and society for generations. However, HBCUs have long struggled with underfunding, leaving them at a significant disadvantage and hindering their ability to offer the same level of education as other institutions. This underfunding is a direct result of state governments consistently failing to provide adequate financial support.

Many states have a legacy of underfunding Black colleges, leading to a lack of resources, outdated facilities, and an inability to pay faculty and staff competitive salaries. This lack of funding has a ripple effect on the education offered at HBCUs, limiting the number of courses and programs offered, and hindering the acquisition of modern equipment and technology to better equip students with advanced skills and knowledge.

Even more concerning, the underfunding of HBCUs can directly contribute to the achievement gap between Black and White students, perpetuating systemic racism.

The lack of funding for HBCUs has not been an unintentional issue, either. Throughout history, states have been accused of intentionally underfunding HBCUs as a way to suppress Black education, limit opportunities for Black students, and maintain the status quo of racial inequality.

Additionally, several court cases have been filed against states for their underfunding of HBCUs, including a landmark case in Mississippi where the state was ordered to pay millions of dollars in reparations to its Black colleges.

To address the issue, state governments must recognize the importance of HBCUs and prioritize their funding needs. This includes not only basic funding, but also resources for updating infrastructure, hiring and retaining highly qualified faculty, and expanding programs to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population.

Black colleges have played a significant role in American history. They have educated prominent figures such as Martin Luther King Jr, Thurgood Marshall, and Kamala Harris. The continued underfunding of these institutions sends a message to Black students that they are not valued, and it jeopardizes their ability to receive an excellent education.

It is time for states to acknowledge their responsibility for the underfunding of HBCUs and take action to provide them with the necessary financial support to continue their legacy of providing high-quality education to Black students. As our society continues to move towards equality and social justice, this is a critical step in leveling the playing field for Black students and providing them with the same opportunities as other students.