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Posted under: Opinion

Why Money Supporting Our HBCUs Should Finally Match Their Cultural Impact

HBCUs are the culture.

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“Howard Forward.”

That’s been the theme of my freshman year. Pushing Howard to the forefront of society, whether it’s through students, infrastructure or good publicity, the goal has been to move Howard University forward. And the truth is, they have — or at least they’re trying.

They started by plastering the trailblazers of Howard on posters across Georgia Ave., then they began renovating the Quad and now they’re beginning to partner with larger corporations like Amazon and Spotify. You’d think these three things would shine more light on an already bright future that's ahead for the university, but you may be surprised to find there are numerous pieces missing. In fact, there are key pieces missing in pushing every HBCU to being recognized as the safe havens they are known to be.

Being at Howard has taught me that HBCUs are never short of accomplished alumni. Names such as Toni Morrison, P. Diddy, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Phylicia Rashad and others who have served as the curators of culture reign because of HBCUs. Why is that? The first reason that should be noted is the inclusive environment offered at every HBCU. Black isn’t just black; it’s not a subtitle attached to your being, but a staple of the security you are able to find within your chosen institution. Because of this, students are able to become an individual. Their ideas, their morals and, more importantly, their art can be procured without the lens of race affecting its spectrum of likeability. But this self-transformation only occurs after, and because of, the pre-established culture of acceptance on campus.

This level of acceptance is portrayed throughout the year, but especially during homecoming. Which brings me to my second point: HBCU homecoming culture is structured around creativity and is the backbone of modern festivals, fashion shows and pop music culture. Without HBCUs, there would be no Coachella, no Louis Vuitton Don and certainly no Machine Gun Kelly.

This brings me to my final point. If HBCUs worked to trademark their events, their style and culture to the marketable audience of millennials, the importance and value seen in HBCUs would increase. Now I’m not saying the institutions should charge students or alum for events held annually on campus, but I am saying to divulge from the mindset that the university’s events should be publicized for free. What if Essence, Vogue, Ebony and other news outlets paid a small fee or even donated to the university for using the likeness of the students, alum and the campus? There has to be a better solution to increasing awareness about the importance of HBCUs, as well as increasing the funds of HBCUs.

If we continue to market our most valued goods at a rate of little to nothing, there will never be a change. And a change is much needed.

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