What does HBCU stand for?

Historically black colleges and universities

When you hear the term HBCU, it refers to “historically black colleges and universities.” These are the educational institutions that were launched before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with the specific mission of providing higher education to African-Americans. The formal recognition of HBCUs was done by Congress in an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965 in 1986.

Most of these HBCUs were established in the southern part of the United States post the Civil War. Before the enforcement of the Civil Rights Act, existing universities and colleges in the South were not open to African-Americans. To ensure that African-Americans had access to higher education, new universities and colleges were set up which welcomed African-American students.

Today, there are about 100 HBCUs that are still functioning in the United States. Some of the well-known ones include schools such as Spelman College, Morehouse College, and North Carolina A&T State University. Every year, the U.S. Department of Education dedicates one week to these institutions called the National HBCU Week. This is a time when you will commonly see the term HBCU being used on various social media platforms.

Example for using ‘HBCU’ in a conversation

Hey, have you heard of HBCUs?

Yeah, I have! HBCU stands for historically black colleges and universities.

That’s right! They were established before the Civil Rights Act to provide higher education to African-Americans.

Exactly! Many of them were founded in the South after the Civil War because existing colleges didn’t admit African-Americans.