Celebration History

hbcu 9 logo with all 9 institutions listed

The year 1867 was a very important year in the history of African Americans.  It witnessed many significant advances in civil rights—such as the granting of voting rights to African-American men in Washington, D.C., the beginning of Reconstruction in the South with voter registration for blacks, black ride-ins staged in Richmond, VA, and New Orleans, LA, and the first votes cast by blacks in a U.S. state election in the South.  That year also was a banner year for advancements in higher education for African Americans, as well.  It witnessed not only the founding of the Peabody Fund to promote education for blacks in the South and the establishment of the original U. S. Department of Education, but also the founding of more Historically Black Colleges and University than in any other year, before or after, in U. S. history.

Nine HBCUs—located in four southern states (Alabama, Georgia, Maryland and North Carolina) and in the District of Columbia—trace their founding to 1867:  Alabama State UniversityBarber-Scotia CollegeFayetteville State UniversityHoward UniversityJohnson C. Smith UniversityMorehouse CollegeMorgan State UniversitySt. Augustine’s University and Talladega College.

Throughout 2017, all of them will celebrate their sesquicentennial on their campuses; and they decided over a year ago, and have been working for the last year, on a joint one-week celebration—September 24-30, 2017—in which they will focus collectively on the enduring legacy and achievements of their institutions and their contributions, as well as on those of other HBCUs, to the making of this nation.  With this unified and collaborative observance, they hope to focus the nation’s attention sharply and effectively on the remarkable record of HBCUs, both historically and presently, and their tremendous value as some of the nation’s hidden treasures.  In addition, they wish to generate a national conversation on the critical role that HBCUs must play in 21st-century American education and what the nation must do, in its own best interest, to preserve and enhance them.

During the first three days of this HBCU-9 United Sesquicentennial Celebration, the institutions will hold a number of common activities on their own campuses, including a worship service, a Sesquicentennial Tree-Planting Ceremony and student spoken-word and writing competitions on the importance of HBCUs.  During the last three days of the week, they will convene at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, for an HBCU-9 Sesquicentennial Summit, where the leaders, faculty, students and alumni of those institutions will hold a joint celebration and conduct a major conversation about their legacies, their achievements and their challenges.  The Summit will include an evening performance by the United HBCU-9 Choir (composed of singers from all of the institutions), a torch relay of runners from all nine institutions, a round-table discussion and fireside chat among the presidents and chancellors of the institutions and government and foundation leaders, and a number of keynote addresses about the national imperative to support the nation’s HBCUs.

Click on Events for details on the celebration activities and for instructions on how to register for this United HBCU-9 Sesquicentennial Summit.