All posts tagged HBCU

Edward Waters College Seal

The Edward Waters College campus is set in Florida’s largest city, the city with the largest land area in the contiguous United States, Jacksonville, FL.  Privately operated, associated with African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and providing degrees in 8 academic programs, Edward Waters epitomizes the liberal arts college. Located in a residential neighborhood on both sides of a commercial street, Edward Waters College (EWC) distinguishes itself from its surroundings using both street signs and street art.

EWC Street Sign 20150515_121707

From the first few minutes on the campus it easy to tell that the people are warm and welcoming.  Staff from the admissions house to academics, from the FAME (Focused Academic Motivating Excellence) Program to billing, from the residence halls to the print shop, everyone seems happy to be at Edward Waters.  The tour guide was knowledgeable, personable, and took us around to every nook and cranny of the campus, including the spots where she used to hang out as an undergraduate; moreover, the guide introduced us to amazing administrators on the campus who were filled to the brim with HBCU love.  The hospitality and intimacy the campus offers is second to none, even as a tour group my small crew of three ended were constantly waving, laughing, and hugging almost everyone we passed on the campus.

It seems that it would be difficult not to have a good time at EWC. The yard is full of student organizations’ plots and barbecue grills, the campus center has a sprawling first floor with an indoor workout facility and smoothie shop, and the residence halls look accommodating and comfortable.

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A beautiful campus fountain sits between the Lee-Cousins Building housing the Office of the President and the Henry Y. Tookes Building, home of information technology.

EWC Fountain

In a seamless “Town and Gown” partnership between Edward Waters College and the city of Jacksonville, the EWC criminal justice department shares a building with a Sheriff’s Office substation. EWC has a long, positive history and relationship with law enforcement.  The Edward Waters College President Nathan Glover was Jacksonville’s first Black sheriff.  Leveraging President Glover’s expertise and connections, the school opened the joint Criminal Justice Center – Sheriff’s Office substation in 2013.  Criminal justice and forensic science students at EWC now a site on-campus where they may shadow, intern, and be recruited to work full-time in positions aligned with their education and career goals.

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Jacksonville is a large coastal city with plenty to do in town and great places to eat–I am partial to The Potter’s House Soul Food Bistro, shout out to our tour guide for the suggestion.  The Edward Waters College campus feels full of student activities and organizations, feels altogether warm and inviting…and it’s Florida, so it stays warm.  I like it. I love it. EWC.

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check out ewc.edu for more info


SSU Historic Marker 20150513_153142


Savannah State University is the oldest public college located in the oldest city in Georgia. Originally designated as Georgia’s Black land-grant college, the land-grant has since been transferred to Fort Valley State University, Savannah State University still conducts basic and applied research to improve the lives of Georgia’s underserved population.



HBCU Trek Voyager Carl Darnell and SSU Student Ceasar

Savannah State was established in 1890 with a handful of students. SSU now enrolls 4,800 students in 27 majors each year, housing many of the students on campus.  Student organizations including the National Pan-Hellenic Council, music/band fraternities, and the student government association make life on campus active and unforgettable.

SSU Alpha Plot on the yard




Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Plot


Student life is centered around the Yard. The SSU Yard, a circle-shaped courtyard lined by admissions, student union, administration, and academic buildings, hosts the student organization plots and a mobile stage for performances and showcases.  A brightly decorated statue of a tiger, the SSU mascot, stands as the centerpiece of the Yard, a testament to the students’ school pride.

SSU Tiger 20150513_152307-1

As the University by the sea, SSU specializes in oceanic and marine research.  To highlight the school’s prowess in developing marine scientists, SSU provides a lists of its accomplishments on its website:

  • 19% of Bachelor’s degree graduates entered Master’s or Doctoral degrees
  • 30% of Master’s degree graduates entered Doctoral programs
  • 33% of Master’s degrees in marine/ocean sciences earned by African Americans in the U.S. from 2004-2007 were earned at SSU
  • 10% of African American Master’s and Doctoral students in marine/ocean sciences in 2007 were either enrolled in the Master’s program at SSU or were former SSU students enrolled in Doctoral programs elsewhere
  • 20% of masters graduates went on to Ph.D programs in past three years. (NSF/NIH survey spring 2011)
  • 47% of masters graduates found jobs in research-oriented careers in past three years. (NSF/NIH survey spring 2011)



Directly behind the dining hall lies a marsh leading to the Atlantic Ocean.

With reputable academic programs, engaging campus life, and the excellent setting on the eastern coast of Georgia, it is easy to see how Savannah State University is Rising.


The following images present more of the memorable sites and scenes from my tour of the campus.

20150513_145939Wright Hall and the Savannah State University water tower


Gym equipment renovations taking place in the Savannah State University workout facility: the Body Shop.

The Bodyshop SSU Weight Room

Savannah State University weight room

SSU Gordon LibraryThe Asa H. Gordon Library

Gordon Library Lobby

Savannah State University Gordon Library Lobby

Gordon Library 1st Floor

Gordon Library study areas



DTC Sign 20150312_175507

Carl at Denmark Tech Entrance 20150312_180033


Denmark Technical College, boasting over 1,800 students as of Fall 2013, has an enrollment and employee population that would make up 2 out of every five citizens in the city of Denmark, South Carolina. Denmark Tech impressively utilizes 53 acres of land to accommodate its growing student body in 18 buildings including facilities for on-campus living, inter-collegiate athletics programs, technology centers, labs, shops, administration, and students services. Denmark Tech is a public, two-year comprehensive institution which, as the name suggests, specializes in preparing people for careers in technical fields. Half of Denmark Tech’s students are of the age of twenty-five and over, and 97 percent of the student body identifies as Black and/or African American. Located 50 miles from the state’s capital of Columbia, 50 miles from Augusta, Georgia, a few miles from fellow South Carolina HBCUs Claflin and South Carolina State, and literally across a fence from Historically Black Voorhees College, Denmark Technical College is well-located to host a growing student body and help interested students transfer to quality bachelor’s degree-granting institutions. As a result, Denmark Tech reported awarding 500 degrees and certificates in the 2012-2013 academic term. In short, Denmark Tech is a place “Where great things are happening.”

Rhoades Hall 20150312_175530DTC Blatt Hall

DTC Technology Center 20150312_175629Carroll_Lebby Library 20150312_175643

DTC Campus Directory 20150312_175941Engineering Tech Center 20150312_175822

DTC and Road Signs 20150312_173647


Fisk University Entrance

Fisk University Entrance

Standing on the highest of seven hills in Nashville, in the midst of the famed Jefferson Street, the bastion of Black culture, the stronghold of liberal arts, home of the Jubilee singers, alma mater of W.E.B. Du Bois, 40 acres of what puts the historically in HBCUs, the Fisk University has been “cultivating scholars and leaders one by one” since 1866.  Fisk University was planned three months after the American Civil War ended, since then Fisk has been transforming the lives of their students and culture of middle Tennessee.  The story of the Jubilee Singers, a group of Fisk students and faculty traveling around the United States and internationally singing to raise enough money to keep the institution open, inspires those interested in the performing arts to attend Fisk. The talent of the singers once caused the former queen of England to exclaim that they must be from some sort of “music city,” since then, Nashville has been proudly using the nickname Music City, USA.  The dedication of the Jubilee singers to the institution and the significant role they played in saving the school from bankruptcy and closure has earned the Jubilee Singers the most honorable memorial of being immortalized as the name of the first permanent structure on the campus as well as the center of the Fisk University seal.

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The architecture of the buildings on Fisk University’s campus is Gothic and enchanting. The students are warm, welcoming, and talented. Furthermore, it’s Fisk, the first institution for higher education in Nashville, neighbor of the largest producer of Black medical doctors Meharry Medical College, and down the street from the public Historically Black institution Tennessee State University.  I could go on about Fisk, but it would only further expose my bias for the school as one of my all-time favorites.  Enjoy the rest of the images of campus through my lens.

W.E.B. Du Bois Statue 20140530_182439

Statue of one Fisk’s most famous graduates, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois


Jubilee Hall, currently a Fisk University women’s residence hall


Spence Hall, home of Fisk University dining


Voyager with two Fisk employees

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Cravath Hall, the Fisk University Administration Building

Cravath Hall, the Fisk University Administration Building



Fisk has rich history and deep heritage, to find out more about Fisk visit their site directly www.fisk.edu.


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Fayetteville State University Broncos

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According to the historic markers, Fayetteville State University was established in 1867,making it the second oldest public college in the state of North Carolina.  As a part of the University of North Carolina, Fayetteville State University is led by a chancellor.  Due to the leadership of its chancellors, faculty, and staff Fayetteville State University is well-known for the nursing program in the beautiful Southeastern North Carolina Nursing Education and Research Center and well-respected for its multiple partnerships with the U.S. military and establishment of a Center for Defense and Homeland Security.  Beyond the academic accolades, Fayetteville State University offers a lot to its 6000+ student body in the form of campus amenities and aesthetics.   There are at least three statues of Fayetteville State Broncos on the campus greeting people onto the grounds and into the athletic fields. Ceremonies seem to be constantly taking place in the Seabrook Auditorium, I actually stepped into an awards ceremony by accident when I came to the campus.  Modern on-campus accommodations for students include McLeod Hall, University Place Apartments, and the crown jewel Renaissance Hall.

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In addition to military personnel, adult learners, and traditional undergraduates, the Fayetteville State University campus also serves as the host site for two high schools: Cumberland International Early College High School and Cross Creek Early College High School.  With a pipeline of Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, GEAR UP, two high schools on campus, a partnership with a third high school less than a mile away, and the FSU-Fort Bragg Center satellite with weekend and evening classes on the U.S. Air Force base, Fayetteville State University is poised to continue being a “beacon of guidance and inspiration,” further developing citizens who believe in “deeds not words.”

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Bronco statue and trademark at the entrance to the football field and basketball arena

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Voyager Carl Darnell with Fayetteville State Bronco and staff in the administration building

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Living-Learning Center and traditional style residence hall for underclassmen

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Interesting architecture on campus, the metal and glass structure is home to the Cumberland International Early College High School


Historic spot on campus, water spigot set up by the former slaves who once lived in Fayetteville.

For more information search the Fayetteville State University website www.uncfsu.edu

SImmons College of Kentucky The Birthplace of Black Higher Education in KentuckyHistory of Simmons University, the predecessor of SCKEntrance to the Simmons College of Kentucky Library

Visit to Simmons College of Kentucky. Simmons caught my attention because it recently gained regional accreditation. As an accredited institution for higher learning, Simmons College of Kentucky students are now able to participate in federal financial aid programs and the institution itself may begin receiving special funding from the federal Strengthening Institutions initiative (Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965).

Simmons College of Kentucky (SCK) has a very intimate main campus with two multipurpose buildings located in the historic downtown district of Louisville Kentucky. According to our tour guide Darryl, also known as DJ, the college is set in the middle of our community. By our community,  DJ was referencing the public housing community directly across the street from the front of the campus. Simmons physically and operationally connects to Louisville’s Black neighborhoods through formal and informal means. From random cookouts outside of Parrish Hall to public viewings of the gallery of Simmons history, the community is frequently invited and seemingly always welcome on Simmons College’s campus.

After showing us around the campus, DJ told us about his experiences at Simmons and how he hopes to enhance his prison ministry after completing his degrees in religious studies. When he’s not giving campus tours or leading projects with the newly formed Student Government Association, DJ can be found telling people around west Louisville about the college on Kentucky and 7th Street, where they are doing good for the ‘hood.

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A small group of  visited the campus of the first Black institution that developed into what we call HBCUs. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is located outside of Philadelphia on land donated over a century ago by a farmer named Cheyney.  Settled in the small town of Chester, Cheyney is a quiet place surrounded by farm land and a growing housing development.
Carl and Casta at CheyneyCarl and JT at Cheyney
The campus is lined with light posts waving the banners of famous Cheyney alumni like Ed Bradley and former leaders of the institution. Walking the paved walkways on a self-guided tour, my colleagues and I stopped in the student center first and had lunch in the cafeteria. Inside we met students from Philadelphia and other parts of Pennsylavania who happily talked about their majors and reasons for attending Cheyney. Interestingly, the students we spoke with had both transferred in to the university from other colleges and were eager to take full advantage of the HBCU experience. After eating, we looked around the cafeteria at the large pictures of Black people dawning the walls and the student feedback/staff response forms posted near entrance. It was great to see how open the university was to student feedback and how they posted the  anonymous feedback with signed responses from the staff that directly addressed the students’ questions and comments.


Leaving the dining hall, The Yard was beginning to fill with the smells, sights, and sounds of student activity. A couple of student organizations were barbequing at their respective plots, one playing music from a portable sound system and another using the system from a car pulled up to the yard.  Beyond the bustle outside the modern campus center, the campus was quiet and distinctly historic. Most of the buildings near the yard were lined with stone resembling cottages of an earlier era. Further toward the outskirts of the campus, bricked academic buildings took on a more modern feel, and the sciences building stood out most of all with its aluminum casing, naturally filtered rainwater pond, and new greenhouse.

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My crew ended the tour at the library.  The main floor of the library featured student art, proclamations of Cheyney’s historic founding and its impact on higher education, as well as archival photos of early 19th century classes with some of Cheyney’s first students. Though it was a Sunday afternoon, there was a significant number of students in the library working on papers and reading. Upon leaving the library we marveled at the new residence center that was nearly the largest structure on campus, took pictures of our favorite spaces, and left the historic campus with a greater feeling of HBCU love and heritage.

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It was a good visit made even better by the fact that I was able to share it with my colleagues from the AERA Conference 2014, one of which had never toured an HBCU campus. How appropriate for the first HBCU campus tour to be of the first HBCU.

Carl Darnell – April 8, 2014
Insert pictures courtesy of Casta Guillome, Jeremy Snipes, and Carl Darnell

For more information about Cheyney, visit their website www.cheyney.com

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Welcome to HBCU Trek,

My HBCU Trek began years ago during the summer of 2002 when I first stepped on the campus of Tennessee State University.  Since that moment, I have walked, biked, bused, flown, and driven to over 40 HBCUs.  As a full-time academic, many of my campus visits have taken place on weekends or after regular office hours; consequently, many of the campus tours are self-guided.  Additionally, the pictures of the campus buildings, landscape, and students are taken with the camera on my cell phone.  The HBCU voyage is not funded by a grant nor are the campus tours part of my dissertation study, visiting the campuses is fully something I have taken on as my personal mission.

Hopefully, sharing my experiences will help a high school student consider all their options for colleges, expand a recent PhD graduate’s job search, and present a counter-narrative to the propaganda that HBCUs are no longer relevant in a “post-racial” society.  So that this material is accessible to anyone interested in learning more about HBCUs, the blog is not written in heavy academic jargon. On the other hand, the blog is not solely composed in pure street vernacular so that interested academics do not write it off as untrustworthy information.  The blog is made up of my observations exploring the HBCU world, and is written from my perspective of the places I see and interpretation of the people’s stories I hear at each institution.

Whether for research leads, sheer pleasure, or to visit HBCUs vicariously through the voyages presented in the blog, I appreciate you viewing the site and welcome you to the HBCU Trek.

Voyager at Miles CollegeVoyager at Talledega CollegeTrekkies at HSSU