I woke up this morning and texted both of my children, who are back home in D.C. visiting their dad and grandparents today. I put on my Morehouse sweatshirt, and every one of my personal and professional social media networks got a variation of the same message I sent my children in a screenshot tweet. A Morehouse Man is on his way to the U.S. Senate, thanks largely to the efforts of his Spelman sister. Morehouse Man. Pastor of Daddy King’s church. John Lewis’s former pastor. Is the first Black Senator from Georgia. Pushed over the top by Lewis’s former…


As some of you know, I left U.S. News and World Report in May. I spent the summer and early fall consulting for a handful of clients in the educator preparation and education equity spaces, while managing a cross-country move from Maryland to Austin, Texas. (If you’ve ever tried to move across the country with children, you know it’s been quite an eventful summer, getting registered for schools and settled in our new house and managing the emotions of a 9-year-old struggling on and off with bouts of home sickness.)

Though I’ve kept a relatively low profile throughout the summer…


One of my favorite stories in all of HBCU lore is the story of Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick meeting his wife during Carnival in Trinidad, which he called “one of the greatest festivals on Earth” in a 2014 interview with C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb.

Photo courtesy of @HUPrez17 on Instagram

Carnival Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday — “Mardi Gras”) celebrations rose out of enslaved Africans’ creating their own traditions to partake in the revelry that consumed the French plantation owners before entering the Lenten season the next day (the derivative Latin words, carne and vale mean flesh and farewell, as in giving up the desires of…


Amelia Boynton Robinson lived her whole life in pursuit of civil rights. Upon her death in 2015, her son Bruce said, “The truth of it is that was her entire life. That’s what she was completely taken with. She was a loving person, very supportive — but civil rights was her life.”

Educated first at Georgia State College (now Savannah State University) and later transferring to Tuskegee Institute (now University), she would pursue further education at Tennessee State University and Virginia State University after graduating from Tuskegee with a home economics degree.

Mrs. Robinson was the first Black woman and…


Valerie Thomas’ interest in science was sparked by seeing her dad work on the family’s television set, and furthered when she got her hands on a copy of The Boys First Book on Electronics at the age of eight. But despite the fact that her father was the reason for her interest in the field at all, he would not help her with the projects in the book. To make matters worse, her all-girls school did not encourage participation in math and science. …


Patricia Roberts Harris graduated summa cum laude from Howard University and went on to be the first Black woman named as an American envoy when President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointee her as ambassador to Luxembourg.

“I feel deeply proud and grateful this President chose me to knock down this barrier, but also a little sad about being the ‘first Negro woman’ because it implies we were not considered before,” she said at the time.

Following the end of her diplomatic career, she assumed the role of dean of Howard University’s law school, making her the first Black woman head of…


Ruth E. Carter became the first Black woman to win an Oscar for best costume design last night, taking home the award for her Wakandan designs for “Black Panther.”

A graduate of Hampton University, Carter has been nominated for the award twice before — the first nomination coming in 1993 for her work on fellow HBCU alumnus Spike Lee’s (Morehouse College) “Malcolm X,” and the second in 1998 for her work on “Amistad.”

It was Hampton where her career as a costume designer began. After not being cast in an HU production of “The Would Be Gentleman,” Carter took on…


The University of the Virgin Islands is the only HBCU to sit outside of the contiguous United States, and now it is the only four-year HBCU to offer free tuition to students.

Last month, the board of trustees approved a set of policies and procedures that would allow th university to participate in the Virgin Islands Higher Education Scholarship Program, which grants free tuition to postsecondary institutions for residents of the Virgin Islands.

Founded in 1962, UVI is a public, co-ed, land-grant HBCU which has two campuses: one on St. Thomas, and one on St. Croix. Students from across the United States are eligible to participate in a semester or year-long domestic exchange to UVI through the National Student Exchange with tuition paid by the student’s home campus.


Prairie View A&M University College President Dr. Ruth J. Simmons was the first Black woman to serve as president of a major college or university in the U.S. when she was named president of Smith College in 1995. Having served as provost at Spelman College previously, Simmons was no stranger to all-women’s education, and as president of Smith, she started the first engineering department at an all-women’s college in the U.S.

In 2001, she became the first Black president of an Ivy League institution when she succeeded Gordon Gee as president of Brown University. While at Brown, she led an…


When award-winning author and poet Dr. Nikky Finney was beginning to think about her postsecondary education, she knew the only choice for her would be to attend an historically Black college or university in the South.

The daughter of two Claflin College (now university) graduates and Black activists, Finney describes herself as “a child who was heavily influenced by the Black college tradition.” Between her parents and her community members who were HBCU alumni — “they were graduates, and not just quiet graduates, they were jubilant graduates” who spread the gospel of their HBCU experiences to all in their path…

Autumn A. Arnett

Autumn A. Arnett is an education reporter and editor and an avid sports fan based in Austin, Texas. www.a2arnett.com

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