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The Monitor

Saturday, April 12, 2008 Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Significance of HBCU’s Preparing a new generation of African-American leaders


The Monitor

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8 out of 10 AfricanAmerican engineers gradcontinued from page 5 uate from HBCUs. …[HBCU’s] must produce individuals Whalum is a proud “It [HBCUs] must seek graduate of TSU. He that make the greatest individual impact, today to move into the recently completed a twomainstream and serve the competent and trained citizens who can year stint as Artist in whole urban community. As achieve for themselves and their commuResidence at the never before it must proStax/Soulville Music duce individuals that make nity.” Academy in Memphis. the greatest individual He is still one of the top impact, competent and – Granville Sawyer selling contemporary jazz trained citizens who can artists and a respected achieve for themselves and saxophonist. Meanwhile their community as never 07 annual report, HBCUs constitute his former teacher and mentor, before it [HBCU’s] must produce 3 percent of all colleges and univerHarris is gearing up for a grueling individuals that make the greatest sities in the nation. But they enroll schedule this fall when he perform individual impact, competent and 16 percent of all African-Americans some dazzling shows so to raise trained citizens who can achieve for attending four year degree granting money for the TSU jazz studies prothemselves and their community,” institutions and graduate 30 percent gram, his gem. stated Sawyer. of them. The report also states that According to NAFEO’s 2006-

TSU campus


On a warm summer day in 1976, 22 years after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the landmark Brown v Board of Education decision, a young man and his father drove from Memphis, Tenn., to Houston, Texas. Their destination: Texas Southern University, a historical black university that in its own way had played a monumental role in desegregating the city of Houston. That young man eventually enrolled at TSU, and credits that institution for molding and sculpting his flourishing career. Today, that young man is one of contemporary jazz’s giants: Kirk Whalum. Recently, Whalum was joined by an alumnus of the Duke Ellington Band, Barry D. Hall, among other jazz greats, former students, friends and members of the TSU community at the university’s Sterling Student Life Center to pay homage to Howard Harris, composer, educator, mentor, musician, teacher and walking jazz archive. Theirs was a musical tribute to a man who personifies the ethos of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)—excellence and sacrifice. Today, Harris’ jazz studies program is one of only two such programs in the state of Texas. “I have been involved with the jazz ensemble since 1971. Then in 1981 the director resigned; so from 1981 till now I am still standing,” said Harris. TSU is the nucleus of Houston’s historic Third Ward neighborhood. It was born out of the inequities that characterized the state’s segregated education system. The 50th Texas Legislature established TSU on March 3, 1947. It was founded as the Texas

State University for Negroes and later changed in 1951 to Texas Southern University. The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) represents HBCUs and predominantly black institutions with the executive, legislative, regulatory and judicial branches of federal and state government amongst other non-governmental organizations to provide services to its over 118 members. NAFEO contends that HBCUs were founded primarily for the education of African-Americans, although their charters were not exclusionary. Cheney University in Pennsylvania, founded in 1837 was the nation’s first HBCU.

According to the American Council on Education Minorities in Higher Education Annual Status Report, HBCUs graduated 20 percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned by African-Americans in 2000-01. Twenty-five thousand and ninety baccalaureate degrees were awarded to AfricanAmerican students that academic year the report stated. The Status Report is widely recognized as the national source of information on current trends related to minorities in higher education. The report is made possible by a grant from the GE Foundation. Peter Thornton, a communication instructor in the TSU Tavis Smiley School of Communication, attended a historically white university as an undergraduate, but did his graduate studies at TSU. In fact, Thornton is one of the first to have graduated from the school of communication graduate program. He cites access to resources as a great resource in HBCUs. “I think I had more access to the equipment and professors than I did at Boston University,” Thornton said. Granville Sawyer is a former TSU president who served on President Richard Nixon’s commission on campus unrest and has been a lifelong advocate for HBCUs. Sawyer saw the importance as both a student at an HBCU [Tennessee A&I University] and administrator. In his landmark document on the role of urban universities, The Urban Commitment, Sawyer outlined his vision for the role and importance of HBCUs.

HBCU’s continued on page 6

Photo: TSU's: Earlie Hudnall

Above, Howard Harris, on the right, Kirk Whalum.


NABJ Monitor  

National Association of Black Journalists student publication produced at Texas Southern University. Serbino Sandifer-Walker coordinating e...

NABJ Monitor  

National Association of Black Journalists student publication produced at Texas Southern University. Serbino Sandifer-Walker coordinating e...