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Dr. Hakim Lucas, President of Virginia Union University, an HBCU, has questions about the future of Black educational institutions. How do the missions of these historically Black institutions address the realities of life in 2022 for Black students?
Covering a wide range of topics from Black Lives Matter to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Lucas kept returning to one point: the education of African-American students is not just about preparing for careers, but also preparing for life.
Dr. Lucas knows too well the realities of being a Black student in a country founded on white supremacy, one that still upholds structures of institutional racism. “The social threat of systemic racism affects every generation,” he said in an interview with The Black Wall St. Times.
Competing with PWIs
To that end, Dr. Lucas wants to expand the relevance of HBCUs in the 21st century by recognizing their unique opportunities to educate Black students. Many of today’s Black leaders are products of these Black-serving universities, including voting rights organizer Stacy Abrams, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Yet challenges remain. Noting that President Barack Obama attended Harvard rather than an HBCU, Dr. Hakim posed the question, “Can traditionally white universities do a better job educating Black students than HBCU?”
Of course Dr. Lucas doesn’t think so. But he recognizes the unique challenges posed by schools like Harvard that are now trying to compete with HBCUs to educate Black students. “We have to compare our mission to their programs,” he continued.
New challenges, new opportunities
And the mission for HBCUs changes, as the students change in response to an increasingly problematic society for Black students. Since the beginning of 2022, over 20 HBCU have been the targets of bomb threats.
“How can HBCUs challenge the traditional notions of safety for our students, faculty, and staff?” he posed, during the interview. “We HBCUs must collaborate and innovate,” he concluded.
To learn more about HBCU, go to https://sites.ed.gov/whhbcu/one-hundred-and-five-historically-black-colleges-and-universities/