HBCUs have long had a major impact
Letters to the editor
5/31/2019, 6 a.m.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities have impacted my life and who I am and created so many defining moments for me that I have lost count. I laud them because they deserve it.
Growing up in Winston-Salem, N.C., gave me a front row seat to the power of HBCUs. I went to Atkins High School and most of the teachers there graduated from black colleges.
North Carolina has 11 HBCUs, the second most in America, while Alabama has 12. Records show most HBCUs are in the South. While some may offer a different view, segregation made them possible. Education has always been a staple of our communities. These institutions of higher learning have made a lasting imprint in America.
Johnson C. Smith University, a private HBCU in Charlotte N.C., became my college home for four years. It had a stellar reputation, prominent alumni, the campus was the right size for me and some of my friends were already there.
The faculty and staff really cared about us and wanted us to succeed. My teachers inspired me to do my best each day. We were not numbers at JCSU; we were people. Our professors knew us by name. This made us feel like we were somebody. It made us feel like we were important and had a future. That kind of environment makes HBCUs so special. They instill in students an attitude of confidence and help them think critically about the world. Those intangibles provided me with the tools I needed for a successful professional life.
While at Johnson C. Smith, I had an extended family and made lifelong friends. The closeness made us get through some of the tough times. We grew academically, emotionally and spiritually.
I am a tireless supporter of HBCUs, especially my alma mater. They take both diamonds and diamonds in the rough and make them leaders. They provide you with the support and the smarts to make it in this global society. An HBCU graduate can go into the public square and compete with anyone.
As alumni, we are ambassadors for HBCUs. We must give readily of our time, talent and resources. Somewhere in our neighborhood and in our city is a potential HBCU student. Our mission is to spread the word about the track record of these schools. They started a success model many years ago and it has not lost its power.
Let us proudly tell the stories about our institutions. They were life-changing for us and they can be life-changing for future generations.
DR. JAMES B. EWERS JR.
The writer is the former associate dean for student affairs at Miami University of Ohio at Middletown and is president emeritus of the Teen Mentoring Committee of Ohio.