A View From The Shadows: What If There Were No HBCU’s

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Updated: October 19, 2016
US-POLITICS-OBAMA

By Professor Fred Whitted

 

NORTH CAROLINA – Sometimes, you have to allow your imagination to run away with you to see what God is trying to show you. When you do this, your eyes are opened to new things, but, most of those things were already there.

Since 1865, which marked the end of slavery, we have been blessed with about the 100 HBCUs. Six of them actually predated the Civil War. The rest came after the fall of the Confederacy.

In the wake of their new freedom, Blacks celebrated God’s gift of freedom. Then, they began the work preparing to live free.

Since Blacks were prevented learning to read and write. By law during the last 30 years of slavery, there were laws that said that Blacks could be killed for teaching other Blacks to read and write. Because of this, there was a great need for educational resources. Help came from outside to begin the task. For the most part, Blacks tended to take care of themselves. Blacks who knew how to read and write began to teach others how to read and write. Black soldiers who could read and write taught former slaves to read and write. Using whatever they knew, they began to raise their communities. Some communities grew to become what we now call “Black Wall Streets” because of their prosperity.

For the most part, Blacks tended to take care of themselves. Blacks who knew how to read and write began to teach others how to read and write. Black soldiers who could read and write taught former slaves to read and write. Using whatever they knew, they began to raise their communities. Some communities grew to become what we now call “Black Wall Streets” because of their prosperity.

For those who have followed the legacy of HBCUs, all of this, along with the other successes that are part of it, is well known. So, for those who are not fully aware of what has been accomplished through HBCUs over the last 100-plus years. Looking at the fact that most HBCUs are located in the heart of Dixie, it is easy to understand that there was no intent to allow those great minds to come into the south. Nor was there any intent to allow Blacks to learn how to use their new freedoms to their own advantage.

First, let’s look at the things that most people would overlook. For many years Black intellectuals grew up on HBCU campuses. For years, Blacks were able to earn PhDs from the major universities, including the Ivy League. While they were able to earn their degrees at those prestigious institutions, none of them would hire Blacks as instructors or researchers.
So, the likes of Drs. W.E.B. DuBois, John Hope Franklin, Benjamin Quarles, George Washington Carver, Carter G. Woodson and many others worked on HBCU campuses during the years before desegregation. For more than 100 years, many of the great Black intellectuals worked almost exclusively at HBCUs. Many of them became part of the faculties of HBCU. Howard collected a large number of them because it was powered by federal funds.
hbcu_portrait_gwcarver-e1289986549687
Without an HBCU, where would Dr. George Washington Carver have made his many discoveries related to the peanut? Where would all of the other highly educated Blacks have used their acquired knowledge and skills?
Without HBCU’s, many Blacks would have never gotten any education beyond the elementary level. In most cases, HBCUs included high schools as part of their operation because so many people coming from rural areas had educational opportunities beyond the sixth grade. This allowed them to complete high school and move on into college. This was a great asset to at least half of those who sought an education at an HBCU.
There are so many other great things that have come to us from HBCUs. One that is all too often overlooked is the game of basketball. A look at the recent US Olympic team would give one the impression that Blacks always loved the game. NOT SO!!! In the early years, that was not the case. In the early years, the game was a slow plodding game that lacked most of the action we now enjoy.
The salvation of the game came in the form of HBCUs. More significantly, it came in the person of Coach John B. McLendon, Jr. Recently inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach, it was Coach McLendon who showed the world how to play the game the way that the inventor intended for it to be played. Just like the Black intellectuals, Black coaches who had graduated from white colleges were not allowed to teach or coach at them.
So, Coach McLendon came to North Carolina College and became a head basketball coach. From that stage, he developed his “Fastbreak” philosophy that was the forerunner to what we now call “Up-Tempo” Basketball. While it may be called something different from what he called it, it is still the same concept that he taught 70 years ago.
The game grew up in the match-box gyms on HBCU campuses. Such names as Coach McLendon, Mark Caldwell, “Big House” Gaines, Cal Irvin, Tom Harris, Fred Hobdy, Lucius Mitchell, Ed Adams, and Ben Jobe, just to name a few, played this style while white coaches still played their plodding and boring game.
coach mac TSU
Due to racism, while wanted to know how Coach McLendon had won three consecutive NAIA National Tournament Championships. So, they made him an advisor to the US Olympic Team, but not a coach. For him to be a coach, he had to “prove himself” in Europe instead of with white players in the US.
So, he took a team on tour to the Eastern Block. While there, he taught his philosophy to the Germans, Russians and other countries behind the Iron Curtain. He did his job so well that they soon challenged the US Olympic Team. In 1972, the Russians defeated the US Team for the first time.
As we move forward with the development of the HBCU Heritage Center, we will keep this kind of information at the forefront of what we are doing. There are so many such stories out there. No one knows our story like we know it. Thus, no one can tell our story as we should tell it.
NOTE: PLEASE SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS TO PRESERVE AND PUBLISH HBCU HISTORY. Please go to www.blackheritagereview.com
and PUT SOME HBCU HISTORY UNDER YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE.

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