Whites at Black Colleges

Morehouses first white valedictorian puts spotlight on non-black HBCU students

others, calling the institutions the “quintessential equal education opportunity facilities” compared with predominantly white institutions. “They have at all times been more diverse than their white counterparts.”

Franklin agrees. “To black colleges’ credit, we’ve always been non-racist intuitions by contrast when white institutions were discriminating black colleges were.” While he is proud of Packwood’s achievement, as well as the successes of all the college’s graduates, he says Morehouse doesn’t have a specific agenda to recruit white prospects and is instead focused on enrolling “the best and brightest who will fit in Morehouse culture, academic excellence, moral character, and community service.”
Franklin adds that a number of white Morehouse graduates such as Howard Zehr, a professor of Restorative Justice at the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, have become “ambassadors” for equality among all people. “We are able to educate the leadership of the white community that will ultimately benefit the black community,” he says.

HBCUs employing better marketing techniques that highlight various academic successes and strengths continue to add to the variety of reasons why non-African Americans are enrolling in those institutions. For instance, as one of only two pharmaceutical schools in Louisiana, Xavier University’s College of Pharmacy is a popular choice for those wishing to enter the field. At the start of the 2007-2008 school year, non-African Americans and non-resident aliens made up 49% of the college’s 679 students, according to Treva A. Lee of Xavier’s planning and intuitional research office.

Other top deciding factors are that HBCUs provide smaller, nurturing environments, a diverse campus experience, and affordability. They are proportionately priced lower than their predominantly white counterparts. On average, private HBCUs cost $10,000 less than predominantly white private institutions, and public HBCUs cost about $1,000 to $1,500 less than predominantly white public institutions, Baskerville points out.

Packwood says his decision to attend Morehouse was no different than why many other students chose to go there: to get the Morehouse experience. “I can empathize but I don’t truly know the experience of being a black man in America…I do share the Morehouse experience…I owe a lot to this institution.”

Packwood, who has siblings of mixed-race, says he feels a real connection with his Morehouse brothers and is proud to be a part of the same legion as the likes of a Martin Luther King Jr. He has gained a lot from his Morehouse experience, including a unique perspective that he wouldn’t have gotten if he’d attended Harvard University or Columbia University, which he says were strong considerations.

Baskerville, along with Franklin and Moses, believes African American students will be able to get “the real black college experience” even as more non-blacks continue to populate HBCU campuses. “Those things that are part of the culture and tradition tend to remain intact,” says Baskerville, who strongly believes HBCUs are absolutely still necessary. “There are no indications that as more diverse students attend, that you are losing the rich tradition and culture of the HBCU experience.”

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  • Jama

    I think it’s a wonderful thing that our schools as a nation offer so much to so many.