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The HBCU “Choice”

I want to frame this piece before we proceed. This is not a piece to persuade anyone to see things my way or from my perspective.  This post is about education. 

On Monday the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, made a statement that perfectly illustrated the disconnect with historical events that significantly impacted black people in our country. The interesting notation to add is that Betsy DeVos is not an educator and lacks the the formal education, based on research and application. 

DeVos presented a severely flawed statement, completely misrepresenting facts about African-Americans in our country and the role HBCU’s play. HBCU’s are attended by African-Americans overwhelmingly.

DeVos’ statement called historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) “real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” this is after President Donald Trump held a meeting with several HBCU leaders on Monday. Though the discussion was billed as an hour long listening session, the listening session lasted 15 minutes, before the participants were brought into a photo op.

To claim HBCU’s have been a choice for education scoffs at hundreds of years of torture, rape, assault, brain washing and murder called slavery. It avoids the discussion about what happened to African-Americans attempting to attain an education, both during and following slavery.

DeVos forgot to mention during slavery that it was a punishable offense if a slave taught themselves or  if they had been taught to read. DeVos forgot or maybe she did not know that slaves could have their tongues cut out of their mouth for trying to sound smart. 

DeVos forgot to mention that following the abolition of slavery that most American institutions did not welcome African-Americans and/or did not protect them from persecution. Thus land was allocated and resources were gathered to provide a safe learning space for African-American students. 

If we continue down this path, segregation from educational institutions, water fountains, housing, bus seating, restaurant seating and even libraries were a standard not a choice. 

African-American students were provided outdated books, books with missing pages, tattered pages and vandalized buildings for attempting to attain an education.

The choice, Mrs. DeVos speaks of, was not much of a choice. It was the only safe and viable option to attain an education. As a result parents had to physically protect their own children pursuing education, the national guard was called in to protect young men and women from attack for their choice to attain an education. 

Mrs. Devos was not completely wrong, because of the choices people like my grandmothers, grandfathers,  and great grand parents individuals like myself were able to make the choice to attend two HBCU’s, Hampton University and Texas Southern University.

To reference facts listed throughout this post Click Here

The Library of Congress also provides a history Click Here


Click Here to read more at ABC News.

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3 Things a College Education Taught Me!

Over the next few weeks we are going to attend graduations and we will see images of so many people excited about the next chapter of their life.

While I know college is not for everyone, for those who see the benefits, you have the opportunity to expedite your professional and personal progress by attending.

Many of us we knew college was not an option it was the starting line for our life. It was our official introduction to our adulthood. As I look back on my undergraduate experience, there are three things I learned that have helped me professionally.

3. Education never stops!

Attending college entails studying for long periods of time, group projects, many tests and constant learning in short amounts of time despite what life throws you outside of that. The reality is that’s the REAL WORLD. Regardless of you being an employee or employer you have to keep evolving and that evolution takes knowledge and information. If you do not grow and evolve your competition or an alternative will surely take your place.

Be it books you read or courses you take to stay current keep educating your self on your craft or niche.

2. The institution you receive your degree from is extremely important.

Yes the name is important, but there is more to it. Many people do not believe this statement, but it’s real. What it means is your institution has to prepare you for what it is you want to do in life. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a couple years at Hampton University before I chose to attend Texas Southern University. Hampton taught me the value of networking and interacting with my class mates and that my presentation in my business interactions was extremely important.

TSU was invaluable. I met so many creative minds. I engaged with individuals who had so much energy and I never spent a day attending TSU feeling alone. Be it from my professors or class mates the resources I had available to me were first rate. I received my degree in journalism, which is weird, because I’ve spent the vast majority of my professional life working in business functions. I had the opportunity to write for a campus newspaper, work in front of and behind the camera in our news studio. I was able to learn how to structure and plan events and I did it with a great group of people.

By the time I had graduated I had theory and application experience.

1. Your degree is important, but not more important than your network.

Lastly, you cannot be successful without learning how to network. Networking is a scary word for some, but it is a word you have to become familiar with. Your network can provide you with resources you did not know existed. To this day other than my first job out of college with the Houston Dynamo, I’ve never really searched for the jobs I’ve received. Many of the opportunities were as a result of my networks.

Somewhere among the favors, encouraging sessions and phone calls with those individuals I’ve been blessed to work with and receive an education with, my name was passed forward. Even attending Hampton was a result of my mentor introducing me to a colleague, a Federal Judge, who was alumni and provided me resources and information about the institution.

To sum it up, college is not easy, but if you can make it through college you most certainly can make it through the remaining chapters of your life. It won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile.