Private HBCU

Jarvis Christian College

Hawkins, Texas


On my journey from Houston, TX to Nashville, TN, I had the opportunity to explore the campus of Jarvis Christian College.  Jarvis, affiliated with the “Christian Church”, is a private, religiously affiliated college serving 900 students on an intimate 243 acre campus.  Jarvis Christian College is not far from Dallas, and welcomes you onto the campus with a beautiful cascade.

As you drive onto the campus you see the victory bell in the school color: purple, and in close proximity, the school mascot eternally stands guard.

You can find out more about Jarvis on their website,  In the meanwhile, join me on my trek of Jarvis through my photos and “imagine the possibilities.”

Administration Building

J.N. Ervin Religion and Culture Center

Lane College 28 Apr 2013 (21)

Lane College in the West Tennessee city of Jackson is a private Black college associated with the Christian Methodist Episcopal (formerly the Colored Methodist Episcopal) Church.  In fact, Lane is the first college established by the CME church.  The four remaining CME colleges include Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama (Metropolitan Birmingham), Texas College in Tyler, Texas, and the Phillips School of Theology housed in the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Georgia.  Mississippi Industrial College, was established by the CME church in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1905 and closed in the 1982.  Lane is located between Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee’s two largest cities, so students are only a short trip away from an NBA Memphis Grizzlies game or Sunday night football with the NFL Tennessee Titans.

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Upon arrival on campus, I noticed the potential of Lane College.  The campus is not far from Tennessee’s main interstate, I-40, and Jackson is the largest city between the state’s two largest metropolitan areas.  Not to be outdone by Memphis or Nashville, Jackson has a history and style all its own.  The campus is full of historic markers commemorating Lane’s contributions to the city and the region.

Lane College 28 Apr 2013 (20) Lane College Historic District Markers

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Lane was founded in 1882, and because the administration chose to renovate and maintain rather than to demolish and rebuild, most of the campus is registered as a site of national historic significance with the State of Tennessee and the United States Department of the Interior.  Along with renovated and restored historic buildings, Lane hosts modern academic and auxiliary buildings to facilitate the college’s growth in academic offerings and enrollment.

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One building stood out among the rest to me on the Lane campus: the CMAC. Lane College’s Chambers-McClure Academic Center.  CMAC houses the library, the main assembly room Graves Auditorium, and serves as the overall academic hub of campus.  The CMAC’s bold architecture makes it stand out among the more historic structures on campus.

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The most memorable part of campus was the Methodist art work commemorating the Tennessee Burned Churches in the ten years between 1988 and 1998.  Painfully true, the words inscribed on the monument reads “Churches are still burning.”  Topped by the National Coalition for Burned Churches logo, the monument lists the names, months, and years of all the churches burned in Tennessee from 1988 to 1998.  To get through the pain, to overcome the pressure to fear and rage, I believe Lane presents another option, pressing toward the mark for the prize of high calling of GOD in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). The monument commemorates the burned churches, the campus itself represents that we as a people are still standing, and the cross atop the monument reminds us of the promise of better things to come.  The monument to burned churches does more than remind me of how much racist hate us, it also allows for reflection on GOD’s grace and remembering His record of delivering people from seemingly insurmountable situations.

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Lane College’s intimate 55-acre campus setting, 2 to 1 student to computer ratio, and average student enrollment of 1,500 provide an optimal set up for a liberal arts education.  Lane offers bachelor’s degrees in 18 major fields.  Additionally, through a collaboration with Tennessee State University, Nashville’s only public university, Lane provides its students with the chance to earn a degree in engineering. The dual degree program allows Lane students majoring in engineering to receive a Bachelor’s of Science degree in math from Lane and a bachelors’s of science in engineering from Tennessee State University.

From historic landmarks to modern facilities, Lane knows The Power of Progress

Offering dual degrees with Tennessee State University, Lane knows The Power of Partnerships

Overall, Lane College knows, promotes, and exemplifies The Power of Potential

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Visit the Lane College website for more information



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.

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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 for more info


Voorhees College Entrance 20150312_173348

Voorhees College, founded in Denmark, South Carolina in 1897, is a private, career-oriented, liberal arts Historically Black College affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Originally modeled after Tuskegee Institute, Voorhees offers degrees in 12 disciplines to more 600 students living on and around the 300 acre, historic campus.  The campus is split into two distinct sides: academic circle with classroom buildings, administration offices, and Greek organization plots, and another side centered on the yard with stage in the center and outlined with residence halls.

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Voorhees College Bedford Hall 20150312_174152

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The campus has vibrant Greek plots adorning the academic side of the campus. Additionally, from the gym hosting the VC men’s and women’s NAIA division one basketball programs to the dozens of student organizations housed in the Wilkinson Building, students at Voorhees have multiple ways to enhance their development with co-curricular activities.

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A legacy of Tuskegee, Voorhees College: One of South Carolina’s 8 HBCUs.

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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.

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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


20140521_194836Allen U Historic Marker 20140521_194846

In May 2014, I visited the campus of Allen University in Columbia, SC. Allen University is an African Methodist Episcopal institution, it was planned by the AME church in 1870, created in 1871 as Payne Institute, relocated to Columbia, was chartered and had its name changed in 1880 making it the only college in America named for the founder of the AME Church, Richard Allen. The students of Allen may choose from 8 academic majors and 24 concentrations, multiple newly constructed living learning centers, and a campus mall for shopping and dining.

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In addition to the social activities available in South Carolina’s capital city, Allen University is also directly across the street from Benedict College, the HBCU with the largest student body in the state.

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Allen has a historic campus, a museum of a library, new residence centers, and an administration building with a beautiful edifice. Allen U.

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Library at Philander Smith College

Philander Smith College Library and Technology Center

In a day filled with HBCU journeys, a Memphis explorer and I visited all three of Arkansas’ historically Black colleges. Our journey began with the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, continue to Arkansas Baptist College, and ended with a self-guided tour of Philander Smith College.

Philander Smith College is located on a hill that overlooks downtown Little Rock. It is a small, private college nestled between the state capital/commercial downtown buildings and a thriving arts district. Because it is directly south of an interstate, the largest building on the north side of campus presents one of the largest signs promoting the college. The result: one cannot help but to see the school’s name Philander and motto “Think Justice” when entering or leaving downtown Little Rock. Along the west side of campus which is also on a busy street, a Philander Smith logo adorns the back of the library. Though it was my first time in Little Rock, I did not get lost finding Philander, with so much signage on the buildings you cannot miss it, and I’m sure it serves as a prominent landmark to the residents of Little Rock.

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Philander Smith has an interesting history. Beginning as Walden Seminary, the institution was established in 1877 by the Freedmen’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Soon thereafter, Adeline Smith of Oak Park, Illinois, widow of Mr. Philander Smith, made a significant monetary donation to the Methodist Church to support their missions in the South. In recognition of this sizeable contribution to Walden, the board of Trustees renamed the institution Philander Smith College.  Another institution for African Americans was established in the late 1800s by the daughters of George R. Smith in Missouri.  In the mid-1920, the George R. Smith College buildings were destroyed by a fire.  Considering their losses, the George R. Smith administrators decided to partner rather than perish and transferred their remaining assets to the Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Enhanced by the merger, Philander Smith College has been able to serve the Black community of Arkansas and the South through its mission to advocate for Social Justice.

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The day I arrived at Philander Smith, there happened to be a Spring festival taking place. People were barbequing at one end of the yard, a health summit was taking place in the main academic building, and a live band, Soulution Little Rock, was performing on the steps of the student services building.

Soulution LR performs for PSC spring festival Voyager with Philander Smith undergrads

It was an exciting day to match the exciting campus. New buildings lined the west side of campus, each of the buildings were larger than the structures in the more central part campus and all had large, modern signage and logos.  The lampposts around campus flew banners with the Philander Smith logo and the motto of Building with Purpose.

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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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