Freelancing Work (NEXTSTEP MAG)

Howard or Harvard: You Decide
By: George Chapman

When I grow up, I wanna go to Yale, I wanna go to Princeton, I wanna go to Howard? Not exactly the lyrics to the Pussy Cat Doll’s hit single but you get my drift. If asked which school did not belong, you probably would have said Howard. Unfortunately Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) are often not viewed as equal or remotely close to the caliber of predominantly Caucasian schools. Despite it’s often lacking reputation, the success rates of HBCU alumni are soaring, and the choice of whether or not to attend on the of these similarly elite institutions become deduced to which university has better weather.

Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, for some, the choice to attend college is unanimous; you can’t. For other’s the clich├ęd Ivy League schools have been hammered in your brain since you can remember. As I recall, I could always remember teachers reiterating to my classmates and I that if ever we dreamed of getting into one of the prestigious ivy leagues that the scores we got on our SAT’s and in eleventh grade were the defining factors for acceptance. Likewise, when I would return from school, my mother and a slew of older adults would overwhelm me with flashcards, essay practices, and math drills. The chaos over such schools made me a bit repulsed by the whole idea. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I realized the capabilities of an HBCU, and why exactly I would attend one in the fall of 2008.

My high school was far unlike any other high school you could imagine. So intricately interwoven with black history, black empowerment and black culture it was if I attended school with such leaders as Martin, Malcolm, and Harriet. Needless to say, my teachers emphasized black contributions to civilization, in any and all forms. One which sticks out considerably was a global history lesson in which the history of the alphabet was being recounted. As told in the history book the first traces of what is now known as the alphabet began in Europe. Included in the section about the alphabet was a chart which included pictures and the contributors of the modern alphabet. Unimpressed with the lack of inquisitiveness among my classmates my teacher then passed out a class set of work sheets. On the work sheets was the chart that we had reviewed in the history book, but something was different. The new chart had a beginning that dated centuries before the European adaptation of the alphabet. It had a beginning which credited the ancient civilization of Kemet, of present day Egypt for the development of the alphabet. It was shocking to the class of 15 yr. olds that we had indeed been deceived; the makers of our history books had undoubtedly cut out a huge part of a people’s history! How many times have we been lied to about the contributions of African Americans to society and if about this, than what else??

Ultimately, history or rather his-story can be very different depending on the story teller. Often stated, but remarkably accurate, if you want something done right, you must do it yourself. As I learned about the plethora of contributions made by a shunned nation, I craved more. Resultantly my decision to attend an HBCU became inevitable and thus the most difficult decision became online or printed applications?

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