Category Archives: HBCU

President Obama to Historically Black Colleges and Universities: “You’ve Got a Partner in Me

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Katelyn Sabochik

President Barack Obama is videoed by an attendee with an iPhone as he delivers remarks at the Historically Blacks Colleges and Universities (HCBUs) reception in the White House on September 13, 2010 in Washington, DC. In his remarks Obama promised to the presidents of HCBUs to improve graduation rates and prepare as many students as possible for the challenges of the 21st century workplace. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

This morning, President Obama hosted a reception for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) at the White House in honor of National HBCU Week. HBCU’s have played a crucial role in the American higher education system.  As President Obama said in his remarks, HBCU’s have “made it possible for millions of people to achieve their dreams and gave so many young people a chance they never thought they’d have — a chance that nobody else would give them.”

In his remarks President Obama reflected on the history of HBCU’s as well as the critical role they will play in meeting his goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020:

We cannot reach that goal without HBCUs.  We can’t get there — (applause) — we can’t get there unless all of you are improving your graduation rates.  We can’t get there unless all of you are continuing to make the dream of a college education a reality for more students.  We want to help you do that in every way that we can.  Already, we’ve eliminated billions of dollars of unnecessary subsidies to banks and financial institutions so that that money could go directly to your students.  And that is incredibly important.  (Applause.)  And as a consequence of that, we’re making it possible for millions of more students to attend colleges and universities and community colleges all across the country.

The President also reiterated the Administration’s commitment to HBCU’s.  In February, the President re-established the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

We also want to keep strengthening HBCUs, which is why we’re investing $850 million in these institutions over the next 10 years.  (Applause.)  And as I said in February, strengthening your institutions isn’t just a task for our advisory board or for the Department of Education; it’s a job for the entire federal government.  And I expect all agencies to support this mission.

Now, none of this is going to be easy.  I know — I’m sure you know that.  As leaders of these institutions, you are up against enormous challenges, especially during an economic crisis like the one that we are going through.  But we all have to try. We have to try.  We have to remain determined.  We have to persevere.

That’s what the first founders of HBCUs did.  They knew that even if they succeeded, that inequality would persist for a very, very long time.  They knew that the barriers in our laws, the barriers in our hearts would not vanish overnight.  But they also recognized a larger and distinctly American truth, and that is that the right education might one day allow us to overcome barriers, to let every child fulfill their God-given potential.  They recognized, as Frederick Douglass once put it, that education means emancipation.  And they recognized that education is how America and its people might fulfill our promise.

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First Lady Michelle Obama’s Commencement Speech At University Of Arkansas At Pine Bluff

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady echoes King’s call to brace for hardship

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at commencement exercises at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Saturday, May 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

AP~First Lady Michelle Obama told graduates Saturday to prepare to overcome adversity, building on Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1958 commencement address at the same university, when he told students to summon their courage to fight segregation.

The first lady gave an impassioned speech to 270 graduates of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff that referenced the legacy of their historically black school, which opened in 1873 with seven students, most of whom could barely read.

Obama said those first students, only a decade removed from slavery, had no guarantee of opportunity once they graduated.

“Let’s just imagine how those seven students would feel if they could see you here today,” Obama told a packed downtown arena.

She singled out Quinna Childress of Newport, who graduated Saturday with a 3.935 grade-point average in biology and plans to attend medical school. Childress was homeless at age 16, a high school student living out of a car who worked nights and weekends as a nurse’s aide.

One day at work while contemplating quitting her job, Obama said Childress thought about the lot of her patients who were struggling to overcome illness.

“They needed me more than I needed to give up,” Obama quoted Childress as saying.

Obama said Childress’ hardships would add depth to her sense of compassion as a physician.

“It’s going to make her an extraordinary doctor,” Obama said.

Obama, a product of Chicago public schools who went on to attain degrees from Princeton and Harvard, said she encountered people in her youth who doubted she could succeed.

“Even today … I know that for some of you this journey has not been easy,” Obama said. “Like me, you wanted something more, right? Just like those (original) seven students.”

King spoke at the Arkansas campus after he had been arrested and tried for his work; his home had been bombed and his life was threatened. Obama noted that the late civil rights leader’s Pine Bluff address contained phrases he later used in his “I Have a Dream” speech, quoting his refrain, “Free at last, free at last,” as Saturday’s audience roared.

King’s Arkansas speech came a year after federal troops protected nine black students attending all-white Little Rock Central High School. Michelle Obama’s speech came more than a year after the university’s 260-piece band marched in the inaugural parade for her husband, the nation’s first black president.

People in the audience said they hope her appearance draws more attention to historically black colleges.

More @

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is a historically Black university located in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Founded in 1873, it is the oldest HBCU and the second oldest public institution in the state in Arkansas. Learn more…

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First Lady Michelle Obama to Speak at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 2010 Commencement

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama will be the keynote speaker for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s (UAPB) 2010 Spring Commencement exercise on Saturday, May 8 at 3 p.m. The university announced today that the event will be broadcast live on UAPB Channel 24 and streamed online via www.uapb.edu.

History of the University

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is a historically Black university located in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Founded in 1873, it is the oldest HBCU and the second oldest public institution in the state in Arkansas (after the University of Arkansas).

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, was founded in 1873 as the Branch Normal College; it was nominally part of the “normal” (education) department of Arkansas Industrial University, later the University of Arkansas, but was operated separately due to segregation. It later became a land-grant college under the 1890 amendments to Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, which required states which did not open their land-grant university to all races to establish a separate land-grant university for each race. The school severed its ties with the University of Arkansas and became Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal (AM&N) College in 1927; it moved to its current campus location in 1929. The school re-joined what is now the University of Arkansas System in 1972, this time as a full-fledged campus, gaining its current name and university status in the process.

Since 1988, the university has gained recognition as a leading research institution in aquaculture studies, offering the state’s only comprehensive program in this field, and supporting a growing regional industry throughout the Mid-South (according to the school, aquaculture is a $167 million industry in Arkansas alone and approximately $1.2 billion in the Mississippi Delta region).

The Examiner notes that,  this month, President Obama, the First Lady, and officials from throughout the Administration will deliver commencement addresses to Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation.  In total, eleven HBCUs will receive commencement addresses from Obama Administration officials this year.

Other officials participating in graduation ceremonies include Secretary Robert Gates, Department of Defense (Morehouse College)Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education (Xavier University), Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA (Huston-Tillotson University), Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President (Morgan State University)Melody Barnes, Director, White House Domestic Policy Council (Virginia Union University), and Ambassador Susan Rice, United Nations (Spellman College). In addition, John Wilson, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is scheduled to speak to Wilberforce University, Wiley College, and Harris-Stowe State University.

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First Lady Michelle Obama To Deliver Three Commencement Addresses

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama gave inspiration and encouragement in her commencement speech to the Class of 2009, the first to attend four full years at UC's newest campus in Merced.

Three colleges will host First Lady Michelle Obama as their commencement speaker. The White House announced the colleges selected on Tuesday:

On May 8th, the First Lady will address the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Established more than 130 years ago, the University began as the only state-supported institution of higher education for African Americans in Arkansas. Like many of the nation’s more than one-hundred historically black colleges and universities, the University has played a special role in enabling young people from many walks of life to further their education. While the University offers many different areas of study, it remains dedicated to the mission of providing educational opportunities to under-served communities particularly in the Arkansas Delta region. It is one of a small number of HBCUs that also are land-grant institutions and thus have a long history of preparing students for fields in agriculture, farming, and engineering. The University currently boasts an enrollment of more than 3500 students.

On May 16th, The George Washington University will host their graduation ceremonies in Washington DC. Mrs. Obama is scheduled to address this group provided the student body, faculty and staff complete the 100,000 hours of community service required during the 2009-2010 academic year. Mrs. Obama issued the challenge for these service hours in exchange for her commencement visit in September of 2009, during the first National Day of Service and Remembrance, which was the culmination of President Barack Obama’s “United We Serve” summer service initiative.

On June 11th, Mrs. Obama will address the Anacostia Senior High School Commencement, a DC public school that Mrs. Obama visited in the spring of 2009 in conjunction with her Women of Excellence event and her early mentoring activities as First Lady.

In 2009, Mrs. Obama spoke to the University of California, Merced’s first full senior class. She also addressed the Washington Math and Science Tech Public Charter High School Graduation in Washington DC.

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President Obama: Strengthening America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama signs an executive order for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama signed an executive order strengthening the capacity of and increasing the access to Federal funding for the nations historically black colleges and universities.

Obama says these schools have felt the pain of the recession most acutely because they enroll a higher proportion of low and middle-income students. He’s calling for increased funding for historically black colleges in his proposed budget.

President Obama says historically black colleges and universities still play a vital role and their success is crucial to a better future for all Americans. He’ll speak at the commencement ceremony for one of these institutions, Hampton University in Virginia, this spring.

The executive order is below:

Promoting Excellence, Innovation, and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Members of Virginia State University's Trojan Explosion Marching Band carry their drums through the Grand Foyer before performing at the White House. The band then watched as President Barack Obama signed an executive order for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Feb. 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Recognizing What Historically Black Colleges and Universities Mean to America

Written by William Jawando, Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement (cross-posted from WhiteHouse.gov)

“As I stood watching the Virginia State University drum-line perform in the White House this week (likely the first time an HBCU drum-line has ever performed at the White House), I was reminded of how far we have come as a nation and hopeful about where we are heading. The nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities have served our nation since 1837. They educated freed slaves, giving them the priceless gift of a mind filled with world’s possibilities. Today, this noble goal of our HBCUs continues as they unveil for their students the world of possibilities for themselves, their communities and our nation.

Guests attending this White House event left with a glow not unlike that of January 20, 2009, but they also left with a resolve to do the work that will be necessary to ensure all students have access to a high quality education and armed with the tools they need to reach for the American Dream.

When the President reflected on some of the legends that have matriculated through HBCU’s – Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King, WEB Dubois -I thought about how important and critically necessary these institutions have been to the fabric of our nation. I was reminded of the tremendous legacy of HBCUs and that when we invest in our young people at these schools we are preparing the way for the next King, Marshall, and Dubois.

President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to these institutions not just with this event, but also through his budget. The 2011 budget calls for $98 million in new money for HBCUs, including a commitment of $850 million over ten years. These are resources the schools can use however they see fit to build their capacity to deliver a quality education to their students. For the students, this year’s budget calls for an increase in the Pell Grant program, raising it to $5,710 annually. More than 50 percent of the students attending HBCUs qualify for Pell Grants and other forms of support. This is important because, as President Obama said, one in two students at HBCUs are the first in their family to attend college, and HBCUs continue to educate many students who often times would not be able to go to college for financial reasons.

The HBCU presidents and other guests present nodded in agreement as the President talked about the need to increase access and completion at HBCUs and the critical role they play. President Obama believes we must continue investing and supporting HBCUs as part of meeting his mission to develop a world-class education system in America. This is not just for the benefit of African Americans, but as we work to compete with our neighbors around this globe, it is to the benefit of all Americans.

Often in Washington we get mired in partisan debate and lose track of what’s really important. Education. Access to opportunity. A fair and living wage. These are things that matter and can make a difference in the lives of people no matter who they are, what they look like or where they are from. We were reminded of these truly American values this week, and for that I am eternally grateful. Now let’s get to work!”

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Little-Known Black History Fact: Mary Alexander & Coca-Cola

Posted by BuellBoy

Mary Alexander in Coco-Cola in 1955

Mary Alexander in Coco-Cola ad in 1955

The year 1955 was like a dream come true for Mary Alexander of Ocala, Florida. She was a junior at Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia concentrating on her studies when her dorm mother insisted that she go to a local audition for a Coca-Cola promotion on campus. Little did Alexander know that she would become the first Black woman to be featured in a Coca-Cola ad – the first non-athlete, that is.

Coming to the city of Atlanta from her meager farmhouse beginnings in Ball Play, Alabama, Alexander never thought she could compete against the candidates from Spelman and Morris Brown College.

Alexander’s first ad was published in Ebony magazine that same year, along with several black newspapers. She would continue working with the company, shooting another 15 ads. Overall, Alexander would earn about $1,500 modeling for Coke, even though no one knew her name. By the way, she finally gained her father’s approval when she brought a check home for $600.

It was only because a family friend who saw the ad in her home took a copy back to Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta that Coke found their black beauty. After all these years, a name would be put to the face.

Coca-Cola recognized Alexander for being a pioneer in the company’s efforts to reach more African-Americans. Several of the ads she appeared in are on display in the new World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta. They also held a reception in her honor.

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Little-Known Black History Fact: Selena Sloan Butler

Posted by BuellBoy

Selena Sloan Butler

Selena Sloan Butler

Selena Sloan Butler was the past president of Georgia Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers 1919-1926. Following the success of the National Congress of Mothers PTA, African-American teacher and Spelman College graduate Selena Sloan Butler heard the call, so on May 7, 1926, the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers (NCCPT) was formed, with Sloan holding the title of its first national president.

Butler was dedicated to teaching. When her community lacked a kindergarten for black children, she held classes in her living room.
Butler’s goal was to create an organization that held interest in all children, regardless of color or social status. The first local chapter was at Yonge Elementary school in Atlanta in 1911 and grew from there. However, because of segregation, the Colored Mothers PTA would work independently of the larger National PTA until 1970.

Young Street Parent Teachers Association Atlanta 1919

Young Street Parent Teachers Association Atlanta 1919

An activist in the community, Butler co-founded the Spelman College Alumnae Association, organized the Phyllis Wheatley Branch of the Atlanta YWCA and was the first president of the Georgia Federation of Colored Women’s Club. From 1929 to 1930, she served under President Herbert Hoover’s cabinet on the Child Health and Protection committee.

Yonge Elementary was renamed in honor of her husband, Dr. Henry Rutherford Butler, and Selina Sloan Butler’s portrait now hangs in the Georgia State Capitol building.

Selana Butler died October 1964.

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