H. Belfield Hannibal Chapter - The Union of Black Episcopalians
Hammons Fund for Black Seminarians and Leadership Formation
SUPPORT EPISCOPAL HBCUs
A Historical Perspective: There are few historically black institutions more valuable to its community and the larger society's economics and culture than Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Statistics show that approximately one-half of all black college graduates are products of HBCUs. One-third of African Americans with degrees in natural sciences and one-half with math degrees have gained them through HBCUs. HBCUs graduate more than 50% of African American professionals and public school teachers and 70% of African American dentists. Many, if not most, HBCU students are first-generation college-educated, often coming from rural and inner-city communities. Finally, we note one of the most unrecognized benefits of these institutions is that they provide social, economic, and cultural value to their municipal communities. This is particularly true of rural and other indigent communities where colleges and universities produce jobs, private rental housing, public and social services, and cultural and spiritual uplift. These are essential community benefits that would be otherwise unavailable in many such localities. Meanwhile, far from the circumstances that produced them, Historically Black Colleges and Universities are still essential missions to the Black community.
A Perspective in The Episcopal Church Regarding its HBCUs: For over a century, The Episcopal Church, along with the United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Black Methodists (AME, CME, AME Zion), Presbyterian, Baptists (American, Southern, and National), and Roman Catholic, has sponsored and nurtured HBCUs. Despite noted benefits, there is a growing attitude that HBCUs are no longer needed and that the racial, social, and economic dynamics that necessitated them are no longer in existence. There may be the assumption that the legitimacy of Black Colleges affiliated with The Episcopal Church is to educate Black Episcopalians or, by conversion, produce new Episcopalians. There has also been the expectation that HBCUs would produce candidates for the priesthood. While it is true that many Black church leaders have received education from our HBCUs, we believe it has not been the essential measure by which the support and mission of these institutions should be legitimized.