Historically Black Colleges and Universities aren’t just for black students. While many of these institutions, commonly referred to as “HBCU’s” have their roots set in America’s segregated past, today they are the college or university of choice for an increasingly diverse array of students.
The reasons why non-white students choose to attend HBCU’s are varied. In a recent interview with the Huffington Post , one White Florida A&M University Alumnus shared why he choose to attend FAMU instead of opting for Florida State University—a predominantly White institution located in the same city:
“At the time I chose to go to FAMU, I was actually in the middle of a complicated transfer situation. I had essentially completed a year's worth of transferrable coursework from a community college in California and was transferring to be closer to my parents because my father had been diagnosed with a severe form of multiple sclerosis (MS). My parents had recently moved to Tallahassee, so home just happened to be Tallahassee, Florida. My choice for college revolved around two priorities: what I perceived to be a good situation to play football at the college level (which was my first priority as a young, naïve jock) and smaller class sizes (I apparently had SOME good sense!). I had only two options in Tallahassee: Florida State University and Florida A&M University,” said Rob Shorette, a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University and 2005 graduate of FAMU. “FAMU met all of my criteria, so I enrolled and began classes and football practice in January of 2005. Looking back, I can honestly say that I had NO idea what I was getting myself into and was not choosing to attend FAMU with any of the historically or culturally significant aspects of the institution in mind that, ultimately, would transform me into the person I am today.”
Diversity goes both ways. Starting in the 1950's higher education in the United State's began to desegregate on the heels of Supreme Court rulings. More than 50 years later, diversity on HBCU campuses remains a hot-button topic. It's even caught the attention of the U.S. the U.S. Department of Education has done research on the issue.
Just because a school is labeled “Historically Black” doesn’t mean it still is today. Some HBCU’s such as West Virginia State University have student body’s that are predominantly white.