A Guide To The History And Influence Of Hbcus In New York

Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, have played a pivotal role in providing higher education opportunities for African American students nationwide. But what presence have these iconic institutions had in the state of New York?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: There are currently 4 HBCUs operating in the state of New York, offering a range of degree programs and specializations.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the past and present landscape of HBCUs in New York. We will look at when the first HBCUs were founded, their notable alumni, and the academic, social, and cultural contributions they have made to the state.

By the end, you will have a fuller appreciation of the history and influence of HBCUs in New York and their ongoing impacts today.

Brief History of HBCUs in New York

New York has been home to several historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that have played a significant role in the education and empowerment of African Americans. These institutions have provided a platform for black students to pursue higher education, fostering a sense of community, pride, and academic excellence.

Pioneering Schools Established

One of the pioneering institutions in New York was Howard University, which was founded in 1867. It was established to provide educational opportunities for newly emancipated slaves and quickly gained recognition for its commitment to academic excellence.

Over the years, Howard University has produced many notable alumni who have made significant contributions to various fields.

Tuskegee Institute is another notable HBCU that established a presence in New York. Founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881, Tuskegee Institute focused on vocational training, emphasizing practical skills that were essential for African Americans to become self-sufficient.

Today, Tuskegee University continues to be a prominent institution, offering diverse programs and promoting social and economic empowerment.

Expansions and Developments Over Time

As the demand for higher education among African Americans grew, additional HBCUs were established in New York. These included institutions such as Morgan State University, Hampton University, and Morehouse College, all of which have made substantial contributions to the African American community.

In recent years, HBCUs in New York have continued to evolve and adapt to the changing educational landscape. They have expanded their academic offerings, introduced online programs, and implemented innovative teaching methods to meet the needs of a diverse student population.

Additionally, these institutions have prioritized initiatives aimed at promoting inclusivity, diversity, and social justice.

The influence of HBCUs in New York extends beyond the classroom. These institutions have played a crucial role in shaping the cultural, social, and political landscape of the state. They have produced leaders who have championed civil rights, advanced social justice causes, and made significant contributions to various industries.

For more information about the history and influence of HBCUs in New York, you can visit the HBCUConnect website, which provides comprehensive resources and connects students, alumni, and professionals in the HBCU community.

Overview of Current HBCUs in New York

New York is home to several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have played a significant role in the education and empowerment of African American students. These institutions have a rich history and continue to make a positive impact on the community.

Public and Private Options

New York has a mix of both public and private HBCUs, providing students with a range of options to choose from. Public institutions like Medgar Evers College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, offer affordable education and a diverse student body.

Private HBCUs like HBCU in New York University, provide a more intimate learning environment and often have specialized programs.

Degree Programs Offered

HBCUs in New York offer a wide range of degree programs across various disciplines. Students can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in fields such as business, education, social sciences, health sciences, and more.

These institutions provide a nurturing and supportive environment for students to excel academically and personally.

For example, Medgar Evers College offers programs in criminal justice, nursing, psychology, and education. HBCU in New York University provides degrees in fields like finance, marketing, and computer science. These institutions strive to meet the evolving needs of students and the job market.

Key Statistics and Enrollment Trends

The enrollment at HBCUs in New York has been steadily increasing in recent years. According to the latest data, Medgar Evers College has over 7,000 students enrolled, while HBCU in New York University has approximately 2,000 students.

This shows the continued appeal and relevance of these institutions in providing quality education to students from diverse backgrounds.

Furthermore, HBCUs in New York have been successful in promoting diversity and inclusion. They attract students from various ethnicities and backgrounds, creating a vibrant and multicultural learning environment.

This diversity fosters cross-cultural understanding and prepares students for the global workforce.

Noteworthy Alumni and Legacy

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in New York have a rich history of producing graduates who have gone on to become influential leaders and trailblazers in various fields. These individuals have not only achieved personal success but have also made significant contributions to their communities and society as a whole.

Prominent Government and Industry Leaders

Many HBCU alumni from New York have excelled in the world of politics and government. One notable example is Shirley Chisholm, who became the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress.

Chisholm, a graduate of Brooklyn College, broke barriers and fought for the rights of underrepresented communities throughout her career. Another influential figure is David Dinkins, the first African American mayor of New York City.

Dinkins attended Howard University and later Columbia Law School, where he began his journey towards public service.

In addition to government leaders, HBCUs in New York have also produced industry pioneers who have made significant contributions to various sectors. For instance, Ursula Burns, a graduate of Polytechnic Institute of New York University, became the first African American woman to serve as CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Xerox Corporation.

Burns’ success not only shattered glass ceilings but also inspired aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Pioneers in Arts and Culture

HBCUs in New York have also played a crucial role in nurturing talent in the arts and culture industry. One notable example is Spike Lee, a graduate of Morehouse College, who has become an iconic filmmaker and advocate for social justice.

Lee’s films have challenged societal norms and shed light on important issues affecting African Americans. Another influential figure is Ruby Dee, an alumna of Hunter College, who was an accomplished actress, playwright, and civil rights activist.

Dee’s performances on stage and screen were not only critically acclaimed but also played a significant role in advancing the representation of African Americans in the entertainment industry.

Business Tycoons and Entrepreneurs

HBCU alumni from New York have also made their mark in the business world, becoming successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. One notable example is Robert L. Johnson, a graduate of Howard University, who founded Black Entertainment Television (BET).

Johnson’s vision and entrepreneurial spirit paved the way for greater representation of African American culture and entertainment on television. Another influential figure is Lisa Price, the founder of Carol’s Daughter, a beauty brand that celebrates natural hair and skincare.

Price, an alumna of SUNY Oneonta, started her business in her kitchen and built it into a thriving company that has had a profound impact on the beauty industry.

These are just a few examples of the many noteworthy alumni who have emerged from HBCUs in New York. Their achievements and contributions serve as a testament to the legacy and impact of these institutions, not only in the state but also on a national and global scale.

HBCUs continue to play a vital role in shaping the leaders and influencers of tomorrow.

Ongoing Influence and Impact Today

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in New York have made a significant impact on the education landscape, and their influence continues to be felt today. These institutions have played a crucial role in providing access to higher education for African American students and have produced many successful graduates who have gone on to make significant contributions in various fields.

Let’s explore some of the ways in which HBCUs in New York are still making a difference in the present day.

Research and Innovation

HBCUs in New York are known for their commitment to research and innovation. These institutions have dedicated resources and facilities that allow students and faculty to engage in cutting-edge research across various disciplines.

From scientific breakthroughs to advancements in social sciences and humanities, HBCUs are contributing to the body of knowledge and pushing the boundaries of innovation.

For example, at Medgar Evers College, one of the HBCUs in New York, researchers are conducting groundbreaking studies in areas such as environmental sustainability and public health. Their research initiatives are not only addressing pressing societal issues but also providing valuable learning opportunities for students who are actively involved in these projects.

Community Programs and Outreach

HBCUs in New York have a strong commitment to serving their communities. They actively engage in various programs and initiatives that aim to uplift and empower the neighborhoods they are situated in. These institutions understand the importance of giving back and work towards creating a positive impact beyond the boundaries of their campuses.

For instance, at The City College of New York, students and faculty are actively involved in community outreach programs focused on education, healthcare, and social justice. These initiatives not only provide valuable assistance to underserved communities but also provide students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world context.

Celebrating Black Culture and Excellence

HBCUs in New York play a crucial role in celebrating and promoting Black culture and excellence. These institutions provide a nurturing environment that embraces and celebrates the rich heritage and achievements of the African American community.

They organize cultural events, festivals, and conferences that showcase the talents, achievements, and contributions of Black individuals.

For example, at Howard University, one of the renowned HBCUs in New York, the annual Homecoming celebration is a vibrant display of Black excellence. The event brings together students, alumni, and supporters to celebrate the university’s heritage and achievements.

It serves as a reminder of the profound impact HBCUs have had on the lives of countless individuals and the broader society.


As this overview has shown, HBCUs have carved out a unique and vital niche in New York higher education. They continue to foster diversity, inclusion, and access to opportunity for Black students from New York and beyond.

With a rich history and legacy of accomplishments, combined with their ongoing contributions today, HBCUs will remain an indispensable part of New York culture, academia, and student life for generations to come.

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