W.E.B. DuBois Predicted Challenges Facing HBCUs Nearly 60 Years Ago | HBCU DIGEST
— Read on hbcudigest.com/w-e-b-dubois-predicted-the-demise-of-hbcus-nearly-60-years-ago/
I find it troubling that Mr. Williams of the Thurgood Marshall Fund could listen to this speech by Du Bois and miss his core point, which is that Black people may suffer collective annihilation if we a) forget our history, our culture and our values and b) cease to support the institutions that consistently deliver on these three non-negotiables.
We must challenge our HBCUs to deliver on new innovative ways of teaching that history and culture and to develop social and hard scientific studies that advance Black life chances and values. We cannot surrender this mission to PWIs. It is also interesting that Mr. Williams did not emphasize Du Bois’ injunction that we need to teach socialism and to challenge White American abuse of power around the globe and at home. As he stated in the speech, from 1948 to 1958, he was robbed by the US Government of his ability to travel freely because he was falsely accused of being an agent of a foreign power. Mr. Williams nor anyone else should listen selectively to Du Bois and forget that Du Bois saw scholarship as an opportunity to make life better for everyday people. As we prize appointments and accolades from the Ivies, we have strayed far afield of Du Bois’ direction.
Du Bois does raise the possibility of the obsolence of HBCUs if they cease to be supported by Black people. Therefore, the challenge he is really laying before the group of NC educators is directed to Black people not just to HBCUs to consolidate or perish. That is Williams, not Du Bois. Interestingly, Mr. Williams, nor too few of our leaders take the logical conclusion from Du Bois—that every Black family should contribute to the advancement of HBCUs. We need to set this as a race-wide goal. If we could secure consistent funding from the 42 million Africans in the U.S., the question of our schools’ collective survival is a moot point.
Consolidation of our schools should be a fallback position after we have wrung our pockets and begun to donate, donate, donate to an HBCU fund that eclipses the UNCF’s current capacity.
Although I attended PWIs for undergrad and grad school, I made the choice to serve at an HBCU and do not regret my choice for one moment. These schools our national treasures and legacy. We owe it to our ancestors and our future children to keep every single one of them open unless they choose to consolidate.
Samuel T. Livingston, Ph.D. | MOREHOUSE COLLEGE | Associate Professor, Director | African American Studies Program|830 Westview Drive, S.W. | Atlanta, GA 30314