Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)
are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving African Americans. Most of these institutions were founded during the Reconstruction era and are concentrated in the Southern United States. During the period of racial segregation in the United States, the majority of American institutions of higher education served predominantly white students and disqualified or limited black American enrollment.
For a century after the abolition of American slavery in 1865, most colleges and universities in the Southern United States prohibited African Americans from attending, while institutions in other parts of the country regularly employed quotas to limit admissions of Black people. HBCUs were established to provide more opportunities to African Americans and are largely responsible for establishing and expanding the African-American middle class.
There are 101 HBCUs in the United States (of 121 institutions that existed during the 1930s), representing three percent of the nation’s colleges, including public and private institutions.27 offer doctoral programs, 52 offer master’s programs, 83 offer bachelor’s degree programs, and 38 offer associate degrees. Among the graduates of HBCUs are civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and United States Vice President Kamala Harris.