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Stand and Prosper

Stand and Prosper: Private Black Colleges and Their Students

Henry N. Drewry
Humphrey Doermann
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Stand and Prosper
    Book Description:

    Stand and Prosperis the first authoritative history in decades of black colleges and universities in America. It tells the story of educational institutions that offered, and continue to offer, African Americans a unique opportunity to transcend the legacy of slavery while also bearing its burden. Henry Drewry and Humphrey Doermann present an up-to-date and comprehensive assessment of their past, present, and possible future.

    Black colleges fully got off the ground only after the Civil War--more than two centuries after higher education formally began in British North America. Despite horrendous obstacles, they survived and even proliferated until well past the mid-twentieth century. As the authors show, however, the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling inBrown v. Board of Educationbrought them to a crucial juncture. While validating the rights of blacks to pursue opportunities outside racial and class lines, it drew the future of these institutions into doubt. By the mid-1970s black colleges competed with other colleges for black students--a welcome expansion of choices for African-American youth but a huge recruitment challenge for black colleges.

    The book gradually narrows its focus from a general history to a look at the development of forty-five private black colleges in recent decades. It describes their varied responses to the changes of the last half-century and documents their influence in the development of the black middle class. The authors underscore the vital importance of government in supporting these institutions, from the Freedman's Bureau during Reconstruction to federal aid in our own time.

    Stand and Prosperoffers a fascinating portrait of the distinctive place black colleges and universities have occupied in American history as crucibles of black culture, and of the formidable obstacles they must surmount if they are to continue fulfilling this important role.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4317-6
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    William G. Bowen

    It is a pleasure and a personal privilege to contribute a brief Foreword to this splendid book by Henry Drewry and Humphrey Doermann on private black colleges and their students. There is, to the best of my knowledge, no other study that combines an insightful examination of the history of these institutions and an analysis of their recent circumstances and prospects. This is, then, a study of the past and present of forty-five historically black four-year private colleges and universities that make up an important but poorly understood sector of American higher education.

    From their founding in the immediate aftermath...

  6. Preface
    (pp. xix-xxvi)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxvii-xxxii)
    Henry N. Drewry and Humphrey Doermann
  8. CHAPTER 1 Panorama
    (pp. 1-12)

    Most Americans have little direct contact with private black colleges, have not visited one, and are not sure what they should expect if they did. This first chapter sketches for the newcomer how these colleges appear today and outlines key forces and trends that shaped them during the past thirty years. For these institutions, however, early history is as important as recent history. In some ways more so. Prior to the 1950s and 1960s, black Americans lived a very different history of civil rights and educational opportunity than did white Americans. The difference is far greater than that portrayed in...

  9. CHAPTER 2 Major Historical Factors Influencing Black Higher Education
    (pp. 13-31)

    The relationships that evolved between black and white Americans over the two and a half centuries from 1619 to 1865 have influenced every aspect of the life of black Americans, education being no exception. The first Africans who arrived in the English colonies were sold as indentured servants in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. Many Europeans would arrive in the New World in much the same way, but what happened to them thereafter would prove quite different. Unlike those of their European counterparts, agreements with Africans for a period of service routinely became lifetime indentures and those obligations were then extended...

  10. CHAPTER 3 The Beginnings of Black Higher Education
    (pp. 32-40)

    For all practical purposes, black higher education began in institutions established in the South just after the Civil War. Prior to that, however, a few Blacks had attended traditionally white colleges and a small number of institutions had been established before the war to provide higher education for Blacks.

    Higher education in British North America had itself begun in 1636, when the Massachusetts General Court appropriated the monies for the establishment of Harvard College, whose aim it was “to advance learning, and perpetuate it to posterity.”¹ Other institutions of higher learning—Yale, William and Mary, Brown, Dartmouth, Columbia, Princeton, Rutgers,...

  11. CHAPTER 4 Public Schools, High Schools, Normal Schools, and Colleges
    (pp. 41-56)

    Public schools of the type first established in New England in the seventeenth century were slow indeed to develop in the South. None of the constitutions of the states that formed the Confederacy contained any provision for supporting public education, and before 1860, measures to establish statewide systems of public schools for white students failed to secure the necessary votes in the legislatures controlled mainly by large landowners. Typically, southern state constitutions merely included a “pauper-school” clause, under which funds were provided to pay tuition for children to attend private schools if their parents declared themselves unable to pay. Only...

  12. CHAPTER 5 Curriculum
    (pp. 57-69)

    The majority of white Americans attending college in the nineteenth century had the luxury of doing so without concern for immediate employment. This was not the case for freedmen, who had considerable skills and wisdom in the ways of surviving in a hostile environment, but had neither income nor wealth to sustain them. Moreover, the pervasive efforts to exclude them from intellectual development, their high rates of illiteracy, and their scant preparation for formal education placed the freedmen, through no fault of their own, at a serious disadvantage when competing for positions requiring literacy. It soon became clear, however, that...

  13. CHAPTER 6 Higher Education in a New Century
    (pp. 70-98)

    To understand the growth of black higher education in its second century of existence, one must turn once again to the 1915 Bureau of Education study,Negro Education.It provides a baseline of information on black schools at the edge of the modern era. Little other information is available because the nature and health of black schools of any sort were of remarkably little interest to the majority of the population. The Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, for instance, refused even to evaluate black institutions until 1931, when some schools were finally placed on its “approved list.”


  14. CHAPTER 7 Two Decades of Desegregation
    (pp. 99-126)

    On May 17, 1954, fifty-eight years afterPlessy v. Ferguson,Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the decision by a unanimous Supreme Court on the merits of segregated public schools. He was almost two-thirds of the way through when he answered the question foremost in the minds of listeners:

    We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible ” factors be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does.

    We conclude that in...

  15. CHAPTER 8 Talladega College: A Case History (1867 to 1975)
    (pp. 127-159)

    Among the approximately one hundred private black colleges that have existed since Cheyney School was founded in 1837, it would be hard to claim that any one was typical or could stand in for the rest. But whether they were in Mississippi or Tennessee, whether they were large or small, religious or secular, coed or single sex, with or without graduate programs, they all existed in a similar atmosphere. From 1837 to 1954 and beyond, every one of them to some degree faced a segregated, generally hostile society; lack of encouragement from the world around them; neglect and lack of...

  16. CHAPTER 9 Leadership and Luck
    (pp. 160-180)

    Talladega was only one of many private black colleges that passed through the stormy post-Brownera. Despite fears for their future, stringent budgets, and aggressive competition from predominantly white colleges, many private black colleges emerged in remarkably healthy shape from the experience, with their missions intact and, if anything, clearer than before. This is powerful, if incomplete testimony to the inherent staying power of these colleges and to the continuing need for them in our society.

    We asked ourselves how these strong survivors managed. We compared a number of plausible theories against our observations and those of other witnesses. For...

  17. CHAPTER 10 The Graduates
    (pp. 181-195)

    Relatively little has been published that sums up the importance of undergraduate black colleges and other colleges as pathways to black American leadership in business, government, and the professions. As it turns out, historically black colleges have proved to be far more important pathways to leadership than is generally recognized. The record, assembled from a variety of sources, is a remarkable one, and gives powerful evidence for that claim.

    This observation in no way overshadows other broad but less favorable observations about the condition of race relations in the United States. Although most racial and ethnic minority group members are...

  18. CHAPTER 11 The Students
    (pp. 196-217)

    What can student opinion and attitude surveys, taken over several decades, tell us about the changing generations of students at private black colleges? How do these opinions and attitudes differ from those of students at other private colleges? Since 1966, Professor Alexander W. Astin and his colleagues at the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California, Los Angeles, have conducted an annual survey of the backgrounds, attitudes, and ambitions of college freshmen. In selected years, HERI also conducted follow-up surveys of freshman cohorts. These Annual Freshman Surveys elicit responses from more than 250,000 freshman each year. Participating...

  19. CHAPTER 12 Faculty: Challenge and Response
    (pp. 218-232)

    Between 1975 and 1985, black enrollment declined slightly in all colleges, including the private black colleges. During the 1970s, black colleges also experienced a sharp drop in the number of well-prepared black enrollees. Aggressive recruitment and generous student aid offers from predominantly white colleges and universities proved extremely effective in attracting many of these students away from black colleges. Beginning in 1985, however, black collegiate enrollment increased in all types of colleges, exceeding the 1975 levels by the mid-1990s. Over the next decade, enrollment at private black colleges increased even more rapidly than at other private colleges. Once again significant...

  20. CHAPTER 13 The Small Colleges
    (pp. 233-243)

    Books, magazine articles, and scholarly commentaries about private black colleges in the past half century have had little to say about the smallest colleges, except when reporting on their occasional financial failures or noting the limited choice within their academic programs. The more favorable notice given to larger colleges and universities should come as no surprise. Larger institutions receive the major gifts that attract media fanfare. And larger institutions can better afford to sponsor research that is published and widely read. The success of an economic enterprise is often judged by its rate of growth: to remain small is not...

  21. CHAPTER 14 Student Aid
    (pp. 244-253)

    Ever since the G.I. Bill of Rights gave World War II veterans enough money to attend college, fueling the greatest collegiate expansion in history, public aid for college students has helped sustain American colleges and universities. Because much of this aid is targeted toward those with little wealth or financial help from family, its availability is especially important to such students and to colleges, such as the private black colleges, that attract a disproportionate share of low-income students. Although the past record is generally counted as a national success, Michael S. McPherson, president of Macalester College, and Morton Owen Schapiro,...

  22. CHAPTER 15 External Sources of Support
    (pp. 254-267)

    Spending decisions made by external organizations—not by individual donors—shape the fate of private black colleges to a greater degree than is true for most private colleges. Most other private colleges derive a higher percentage of their income from tuition, paid by many individual students and their families, and from gifts by individual alumni/ae. The different pattern experienced by private black colleges arises from their history of serving low-income families who cannot afford high tuition, and from having to live within extremely lean operating budgets. In the language of investment counselors, the portfolio of income sources for private black...

  23. CHAPTER 16 Leadership and Financial Independence
    (pp. 268-279)

    “Here at Stillman, we need to make sure we stand and prosper,” Moses Jones, chairman of the college’s board of trustees, told the authors at the end of our 1997 visit to the school. As we wrote the book, we too, were concerned with how in the coming decades private black colleges will “stand and prosper.” One of our goals was to identify operational tasks that their leaders might control, or at least influence in ways that are important for their colleges’ futures. Our sketches of Xavier University, and Stillman, Spelman, and Texas Colleges indicate that sustained, competent leadership itself...

  24. CHAPTER 17 Stand and Prosper
    (pp. 280-288)

    In America today, there is a larger black middle class than ever before. There are now more racially mixed marriages and far more people recognizing their mixed racial identities. We have a black American U.S. secretary of state, U.S. Supreme Court justice, and Nobel Prize winner for literature. There are black quarterbacks in football and coaches in baseball, and increasing numbers of black doctors, lawyers, and stockbrokers. There are more black students in once traditionally white colleges as well as more black Americans in law and business schools. There are increased numbers of personal computers in black homes. There is,...

  25. Notes
    (pp. 289-310)
  26. References
    (pp. 311-318)
  27. Index
    (pp. 319-335)