VSU offering groundbreaking HBCUs history course

Positively Richmond

ETTRICK, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia State University is now offering what could be the nation’s first higher education course about the history of historically black colleges and universities.

When considering the history of African Americans in the country, one would be remiss not to mention the impact of historically black colleges and universities, also known as HBCUs.

“HBCUs reflect all elements of the Black community,” says Virginia State University assistant professor of History Dr. Cheryl Mango.

Established after the Civil War, HBCUs were founded with a mission: allow Black students to get a higher education. It’s why Mango told 8News she created a course – to make sure that story is never forgotten.

“My mom told me that because of segregation, they didn’t have any other opportunity but to attend an HBCUs,” Mango added.

History 342-HBCU History covers a range of historical and cultural topics including: the schools’ origins; political activism; roles in creating the black middle and upper class; sports, music, campus life and culture; funding sources; contributions to America; roles in African decolonization; notable alums; past, present, and future challenges and much more.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, students meet virtually for discussions and critical analysis. The class, which quickly filled to capacity, was offered for the first in Fall 2020.

“We’ll deal with cultural issues like Black Greek organizations, cultural events like the HBCU band, cheerleaders, sports and all of those,” Mango added. “We’ll also be discussing the problems, the challenges in the past, present, and future that HBCUs face.”

Virginia State University assistant professor of History Dr. Cheryl Mango

The course will cover the history of all 107 historically black colleges and universities, of which 51 are public, and 56 are private, including Virginia Union University in Richmond.

Mango says she’s received positive responses from across the nation. And while the course is the first of its kind, Mango tells 8News she hopes other schools will follow suit.

“It’s important that HBCUs move to the center of African American history,” she says, “and not the peripheral.”

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