HBCUs Are Bridging the Gap Between Africa and the Diaspora

With the success of the Year of Return and the open discussions on Pan-Africanism, a part of me wondered when Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) would come into the picture. If you’ve been following this blog, then you know how important it is for global Africa to receive an African-Centered education. Homeschooling programs are ideal solutions, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that several HBCUs are doing their part in connecting and educating the African diaspora and continent. And since I am a product of one, by way of Winston-Salem State University, I know for a fact that this is a step in the right direction.

Following the abolishment of slavery and the end of the Civil War, HBCUs were founded, with support from the Freedman’s Bureau, to help former slaves receive higher education. Due to racial segregation/discrimination, Black youth were prohibited from attending predominately white institutions (PWIs). The term HBCU was created in 1965 by the Higher Education Act and this expanded federal funding for colleges and universities. Since then, these institutions have provided opportunities for many African Americans who were once legally denied an education.


The future of HBCUs in relation to the diaspora and continent looks bright, with a growing number of students studying abroad. According to Inside Higher ED, The Institute of International Education (IIE) advised that a total of 2,036 students from HBCUs studied abroad in 2015-16. African Americans make up 14% of all students in universities, accounting for 5.9% who study abroad and 3.4% from HBCUs who study abroad. Latin America and the Caribbean are the top regional destination choices for HBCU students, and South Africa is one of the top 5 countries for HBCU students. As for the reason why, senior adviser for research and strategy and director of the IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research & Impact, Rajika Bhandari, stated the following:

“One of the patterns amongst students at HBCUs or minority institutions is that we see that students are much more interested in what one might consider heritage-related programming, which is why we see a lot of students from HBCUs going to Latin America and the Caribbean as well as to sub-Saharan Africa.”

Institutions like Howard University, Morehouse College, and Xavier University of Louisiana are developing programs that specifically cater to African Americans tracing back their roots. Howard University is working with study abroad provider CET Academic Programs to develop a program in Columbia teaching Afro-Columbian culture. In addition to the Pan-African Global Experience, Morehouse college partnered with the School for International Training to develop the New African Diasporas program, which will take students to Senegal. And Xavier University of Louisiana developed a program that focuses on the African diaspora in Martinique and Cuba.

In recent news, Morgan State University will become the first HBCU to establish an international presence in Ghana. According to PR Newswire, they will offer three degree programs in partnership with the African University College of Communications (AUCC) in Adabraka, Accra, Ghana. Those programs will include a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Science in Global Multimedia Journalism and Communications, and a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship. This pilot program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2020, and MSU President Dr. David Kwabena Wilson advised the following:

“Over the past five years, we have been very interested in Africa and have been eyeing expansion into new markets. We look forward to piloting these three academic degree programs in Ghana, and if this initiative is successful in attracting top-notch students and awarding them highly valued Morgan degrees, we will consider establishing a more physical presence in Africa

So long as I am the president of this institution, Morgan will never be in stasis. We cannot afford to stand still. It is incumbent upon the university to always lean forward and continuously explore all viable opportunities in this rapidly transforming higher education environment.”

The HBCU presence in Africa and abroad is growing, and I’m beyond excited. A partnership with the continent could eliminate state dependency for funding as well as a stifled curriculum. As an alumnus, certain political discussions on Afrocentricism could only be had outside of the classroom. But with the help of global Africa, HBCUs could become sovereign institutions.

Until Next Time…






Redden, E. (2018, September 11). HBCU Students Abroad. Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/09/11/hbcus-seek-grow-study-abroad-participation

Stefan, M. (n.d.). Historically black colleges and universities. Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/historically-black-colleges-and-universities

Morgan State University to Offer Three Degree Programs in Ghana Following Board Approval. (2020, February 20). Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/morgan-state-university-to-offer-three-degree-programs-in-ghana-following-board-approval-301002107.html


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