10 Notable HBCUs Changing the World

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Everyone deserves an education. Historically Black Colleges and Universities know that and offer supportive environments that help young African Americans find themselves and their passions. Over 100 HBCUs exist in the U.S. and they break barriers on the daily. Looking for a top-notch education, diverse experiences and empowerment opportunities? These 10 notable HBCUs offer all of that and then some.

Read on for 10 notable HBCUs that’ll help you take on the world and make good change.

10. Bowie State University

The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security recognize that Bowie State’s cyber security programs are on point. Clubs like Minorities in Agriculture, National Resources and Related Science and the National Society Black Engineers, connect students to peers with similar interests. “Minorities have been overlooked in regards to programs, events, education, etc. Organizations such [as] Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, are an opportunity to explore more options in education,” said Bowie State student Kayla Adams, President of Minorities in Agriculture, National Resources and Related Science. “This organization and HBCU in general is so close knit and special, I feel free to express my creativity while knowing I’ll have support from my friends, peers and professors.” Notable alumna Christa McAuliffe, a Payload Specialist on the Challenger Space Shuttle, almost took her Bowie State pride to space until the disaster occurred. Reality TV personalities Toni and Towanda Braxton also went to Bowie State.

9. Bethune-Cookman University

Bethune-Cookman students learn the justice system so they can change it. The Department of Justice and Society Studies, the most popular school, offers degrees in criminal justice and corrections and links students to multiple opportunities before graduation. This includes training programs and internships within the Florida Department of Corrections and professional counselors. They even offer chapter organizations for both the Criminal Justice Association and the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice. Aside from criminal justice, Bethune-Cookman offers 39 majors and one of the best study spots. The original library, The Harrison Rhodes Memorial Library, was a tribute to author Harrison Rhodes, author of American Towns and People. The library holds 140,000 volumes with a two-story building complete with study rooms, conference rooms and the archives and special collections.

8. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

FAMU fights hackers on the daily. Its Center of Cyber Security Department researches solutions to Internet security, and it started as a part of President Obama’s Cybersecurity Legislative Proposal. FAMU’s tech legacy carries on; Microsoft Chair John W. Thompson earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration at FAMU. And this HBCU’s STEM breakthroughs don’t end there. The National Science Foundation recently gave a grant to help broaden the participation of minority graduates in the nation’s science and technology workforce. On the social front, FAMU women can join Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, the first and only multicultural social sorority on campus. It provides an avenue for educational excellence to women of many nationalities so they not only learn from each other’s differences, but also form a strong sisterhood. “The college is great, I’m learning so much but also I’m able to be around people who are not just smart but culturally aware,” FAMU freshman London Camel said.

7. Clark Atlanta University

Clark Atlanta helps students get a foot in the door that leads to a corner office. Students can land advancing internships at cool tech companies like IBM and T-Mobile by getting prepared through research programs. Clark Atlanta breaks barriers not only in the boardroom, but also in medicine. The Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development holds five patents, with even more pending, for breakthroughs in ovarian cancer and prostate cancer. As a whole, Clark Atlanta dedicates itself to education and honoring those who fought for this right at the annual Spirit of Greatness Gala. The gala honors trailblazing alumni and supports the school’s scholarship fund. Civil rights activist alumni include close friend to Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jo Ann Robinson. And the co-founder of the NAACP W.E.B. Du Bois used to teach students sociology, history and economics.

6. Norfolk State University

Norfolk gives back to more than the African American community. Its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services gave a grant to Project CHOICE, an organization focused on African American young adults making decisions about HIV and substance abuse. African Americans account for a higher percentage of new HIV diagnosis, so Project CHOICE gives young adults on campus and in the community access to information, experiences and opportunities to help them make wise decisions. This HBCU is also a part of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a non-profit organization named after the Supreme Court’s first African American Justice that helps students at HBCUs find success and pay for college. Beyond that, student orgs like HBCU’s 4 Peace+Love and W.E.B. DuBois Sociology Club and Sister Circle help students find a way to give back to the community. Are you more into sports? This HBCU taught athletes including NBA stars Kyle O’Quinn and Ray Epps and Olympic Gold Medalist Chandra Sturrup.

5. Hampton University

Hampton has helped young African Americans find success since the 1800s. The American Missionary Association founded the university after the civil war to provide education to freedmen. And they did just that. With the second-highest graduation rate among HBCUs in the country, you know they offer endless resources to ensure student success. You’ll feel history all around you at Hampton. Several buildings contribute to its National Historic Landmark district including the Virginia-Cleveland Hall, Wigwam building and the Memorial Chapel. President Obama also received an Honorary Doctorate from the university in 2010. And before she raised one of our country’s greatest Civil Rights leaders, MLK’s mother Alberta King attended Hampton and then became a teacher. The lessons Alberta King taught her students and children carry similar messages in organizations like Golden Key Honor Society and PEER Counselors.

4. Morehouse College

Martin Luther King Jr. and Spike Lee once walked this all-male HBCU campus. Students can join over 80 student organizations including several honor societies and a marching band. The Glee Club performed at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral, President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration, Super Bowl XXVIII and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Other clubs include We Do It for the Hood, an org that connects college students with children in the community to enhance their life paths and change the mindsets and the lives of the underprivileged community it services. Another org, My Brother’s Keeper, originated from an initiative by President Barack Obama, helping young men of color find opportunities and achieve their dreams. My Brother’s Keeper connects these men to summer jobs, mentoring and re-entry programs that help young offenders after their release from prison. Aside from that, Morehouse connects students with internships with the Georgia Office of the Attorney General, lobbying events and the Community Voters project.

3. Tuskegee University

Tuskegee students graduate with jobs that actually pay well—now that’s the dream. On average, they make about $39,000 a year after they graduate. Alumni include Grammy-winning artist Lionel Richie, novelist Albert Murray and the 70s R&B band The Commodores. Activism at Tuskegee started way back during the Civil Rights movement and lives on today. In honor of Sammy Younge, a civil rights activist and student from the 60s murdered during the Civil Rights Movement, students started The Younge Black Artist Movement. “The organization uses artistry to inspire activism. The organization is tailored to a niche market… We’re a family and we come together through art. We’re poets, visual artists, rappers, producers and entrepreneurs,” said Tuskegee student Javanna Plummer, President of the Young Black Artist Movement. Students make a difference both on and off campus through their activism in unconventional forms,  taking their art for all members of the community to experience. “When we create together, it’s inspirational,” Plummer said.

2. Spelman College

Spelman is all about female empowerment. “The sisterhood that we share as a school is very real and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” Spelman junior Daylan Cole said. The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is the only museum in the nation that emphasizes art by and about women of the African Diaspora. The ambition instilled while at this all-women’s HBCU lives on past graduation, helping shape black feminist icons everywhere. Alumni include Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple and Pulitzer Prize winner, and Audre Lorde, feminist writer and civil right activist whose work commented on intersectional feminism. “[I’ve been] given the tools and resources to create my own success and change in the world,” Cole said. “There is no other place for black women like Spelman College that forces you to step out of your comfort zone in the most beneficial way and empowers you to reach your fullest potential.” Even today Spelman women continue to break barriers. Recently, student Bria Page made national headlines as the first recipient of the First Beyoncé Formation Scholarship. Clubs like I Am Possible promote community service through socio-political activism, and Beyond Curves supports all women to embrace beauty from within by applauding diversity.

1. Howard University

Do you dream of writing for a political newspaper or standing in the White House briefing room? Howard’s student-run newspaper, The Hilltop, was founded by author and alumna Zora Neale Hurston. The paper covers a mix of hard news and entertainment that focuses on campus issues. “I want people to grab the paper and see it as a leading source of news with more visual integration and more cutting edge content. Being a part of a paper at an HBCU and the fact that it represents black press from a student perspective really ignites my fire to see really important stories through, we want to leave a legacy,” said The Hilltop’s Editor-in-Chief Jazmin Goodwin. The school’s journalism department even started its own fact-checking site, so no need to worry about “alternative facts” here. Beyond that, powerful people in various industries once sat in those lecture halls. Alumni include the first African American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, and Academy Award, Critics Choice Award and Screen Actors Guild Award winner Taraji P. Henson from Empire. Howard wants its students to keep breaking barriers. They help by offering scholarships like The Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Scholars Program and The Frederick Douglass Scholars Program.

For more college rankings, check out:

Top 10 Colleges for Aspiring Women Leaders

Top 10 Colleges For Political Activists

Top 10 Culturally Dynamic Universities

Brianna is a senior at the University of Florida studying Journalism and Women's Studies. She lives off of iced coffee and tacos, is a happy feminist and watches too much reality television when she's not writing.

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