Historically Black Colleges and Universities TimeLine


Why HBCUs?
Before 1850s
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Lawyers who led fight before the U.S. Supreme Court for abolition of segregation in public schools


  NCCU becomes the first state-supported liberal arts college for black people.

In 1923 the General Assembly of North Carolina appropriated funds for the purchase and maintenance of the school; thus in that year it became a publicly supported institution and was renamed Durham State Normal School.  Two years later, the General Assembly converted the institution into the North Carolina College for Negroes, dedicating it to the offering of liberal arts education and the preparation of teachers and principals of secondary schools.  North Carolina College for Negroes became the nation’s first state-supported liberal arts college for African-American students (North Carolina Central University, 2008).



  Atlanta University System is founded, which units Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College.


In June 1928 Atlanta University named a committee to confer with Spelman and Morehouse trustees on cooperative measures that could result in savings of expenditures for all three institutions.  Their formal discussion of affiliation began in February 1929.  Within a short period of time the “Contract of Affiliation” was developed and signed by President Adams of Atlanta University, President Hope of Morehouse, and President Read of Spelman on April 1, 1929 (Atlanta University Center Consortium, 2008).  It is restructured as the Atlanta University Center Consortium in 2004 (Spelman College, 2004).




 Fisk University becomes the first HBCU to be fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

In 1930 Fisk University became the first African-American institution to gain accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (Fisk University, 2007).


The Divine Nine and the National Pan-Hellenic Council Founded

On May 10, 1930, on the campus of Howard University, in Washington DC, the National Pan-Hellenic Council was formed as a permanent organization with the following charter members: Omega Psi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternities, and Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta Sororities. In 1931, Alpha Phi Alpha and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternities joined the Council. Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority joined in 1937 and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity completed the list of member organizations in 1997.

The stated purpose and mission of the organization in 1930 was “Unanimity of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct of Greek letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations.” Early in 1937, the organization was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois and became known as “The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Incorporated.”


Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Founded 1906, Cornell University

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Founded 1908, Howard University

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Founded 1911, Indiana University

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Founded 1911, Howard University

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Founded 1913, Howard University

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Founded 1914, Howard University

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Founded 1920, Howard University

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Founded 1922, Butler University

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Founded 1963, Morgan State University




Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada


The ruling of Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada the court decided that Missouri was denying equal educational opportunity to a black by giving him a scholarship to attend a law school in another state (Brubacher & Rudy, 2007).  Many southern states began to establish separate professional schools for African-American as part of the state system (Brubacher & Rudy, 2007).  However, the decision of Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada also made it so that if there was only one school in a state that students of all races were eligible for admission.  This helped begin breaking down the barriers of segregation in higher education (Hughes & McReynolds, 1938).




  Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka

The decision of Brown v. Board of Education helped rid the legal basis for racial segregation in higher education and initiated reform throughout the United States (Brown Foundation, 2008).


1965 Higher Education Act


Higher Education Act allows the federal government to provide funding aid for HBCUS

The Higher Education Act of 1965 was the first federal measure to provide a broad permanent program of financial aid to both public and private colleges, as well as individual college students (Brubacher & Rudy, 2007).  This act opened the doors for the funding of higher education and increased accessibility of higher education to African-Americans.  




The effect of “Affirmative Action” found its way into higher education.  The program was designed to ensure that colleges and universities gave equal opportunity and treatment to women and members of minority groups (Brubacher & Rudy, 2007).  This allowed for fair treatment of African-Americans during the admissions process. 



 Spelman College is ranked as the leading liberal arts college in the south.  This is the first time an HBCU places first in a National survey of colleges (The HBCU Network, 2008).



  FAMU is selected by Time Magazine as their first ever “College of the Year”(The HBCU Network, 2008).