Recently, we have seen some discouraging news about a couple different Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), like Bennett and Cheyney. I will always celebrate and support any and all HBCUs, and what we’re learning is that these institutions need our consistent financial support in order to survive. There are more than 100 across the country, and I think it is a beautiful thing that these institutions were actually created for us and designed to encourage our development as individuals and as a whole people. I wholeheartedly believe that every person of color should have an experience with an HBCU, either in undergrad or graduate school. It will literally change your life. And while I will always uplift any and all HBCUs, today, in celebration Founders’ Day, I have to celebrate the one that is closest to my heart.
When I was in 7th grade, I had the opportunity to go on an HBCU college tour, and I saw Spelman College for the first time. I was in awe of how welcoming the campus and students were and instantly fell in love. But what sealed the deal was my first trip to the bookstore. My mom told me that I couldn’t get a keychain because it was too expensive (in true college bookstore fashion). A current student overheard our conversation (and the beginning of what would have been a bit of a meltdown – give me grace, I was young) and gave me the whistle students get in their first year orientation self-defense class. That small gesture (that that student probably does not remember now) touched my heart in a way that I cannot fully describe. But in that moment, I knew that Spelman is where I needed to be.
When I tell you that my 4 years at Spelman were the best years of my life, I’m not exaggerating. I know that if God had not allowed for me to go to Spelman, I would not be the woman I am. I would not have had the life-changing experiences that I have. I would not have the amazing friends-turned-sisters that I have. Life would be completely different.
Spelman is a safe haven that allowed me the space to grow and learn about the world around me just as much as I learned about myself. Because of the impact it had on my life, and the impact I know it has and can have on the lives of so many others, I make sure I give every year. I don’t know the ends and outs of college finances, but I do know that I want to do everything in my power to make sure that Spelman is around for many years to come so that many more women can experience the love and growth that I did.
While Spelman is my HBCU, I have come to understand that most HBCU alumni have a deep love for their institution, much like I do. And what’s important for all of us to remember, regardless of whether we attended an HBCU or not, is that these institutions are integral to shaping the past and creating the future. It should therefore be a very real part of our present (read: give!!!) so that they can continue to be the safe havens and beacons of light that they have always been for us.