What is an HBCU?

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

History and Facts

Source: HBUC First; U.S. Department of Education;

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are public and private institutions established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the United States. From their inception, HBCUs presented Black people with access to education, which was denied to them during slavery and segregation. The institutions also provided a safe space to learn, discover and build community.

The Beginning

After the Civil War (1861-1865), HBCUs emerged to provide Black Americans the most basic of human rights — access to a full education.

Prior to the Civil War, the education of Black Americans was prohibited in most Southern states and often discouraged in Northern states resulting in only a few Black schools being in existence.

These laws existed because slave owners and anti-abolitionists feared that if enslaved and free people of color became literate, they would no longer be able to control them. Without that control, their economy, which was built on slave labor, would collapse.

Free people of color were allowed to attend white universities in states that abolished slavery; they still faced overt racism and discrimination by their white peers. Black students also tended not to fare well at white institutions because there were significant gaps in their knowledge and college readiness.

Most of our nation’s HBCUs were started by philanthropists and free Blacks; Southern states at the behest of the federal government; and religious organizations such as the American Missionary Association (AMA) and the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

The first HBCUs were established to educate the children of formerly enslaved people and train them to teach other Black Americans.  Because HBCUs were the only schools available to most Black Americans, they often provided primary, secondary, and postsecondary education.

The Renaissance

From the late 1800s to the late 1900s, HBCUs thrived and provided refuge from laws and public policy that prohibited Black Americans from attending most colleges and universities.  They provided undergraduate training for 75% of all Black Americans holding a doctorate degree; 75% of all Black officers in the armed forces; and 80% of all Black federal judges.Before higher education was desegregated in the 1950s and 60s, almost all Black college students enrolled at HBCUs.  Legal segregation had prevented Black Americans from attending college in the South, and quotas limited the number of Black students that could attend college in the North.


Today, all 107 HBCUs across the United States continue to play a vital role in America’s prosperity — academically, socially, and economically, and they enroll more than 228,000 students.

HBCUs are also becoming a magnet for international students — largely due to their strong academic programs, affordability, and diverse & inclusive environments.  Originally founded to educate Black Americans, today 1 in 4 students (24%) enrolled at HBCUs are non-Black.

The Growth of HBCUs   

Seeing a need and opportunity for reform, Quaker philanthropist Richard Humphreys founded the Institute for Colored Youth in Cheyney Pennsylvania in 1837. He wanted to create an institution for formerly enslaved African Americans to learn basic skills like reading, writing and math so they could become equipped for the world that they were entering as free people. On February 25th, 1837, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania became the nation’s first Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

After the passing of the Second Morrill Act of 1890 – which required states that supported racial segregation in schools to create and fund public institutions for Black students. Gradually, more universities were established with a large surge of new institutions coming into existence.  Schools that served Black communities faced many hurdles with funding and access to resources being a major barrier. This increase in funding led to more Black people attending college and thus a need for more schools.

The Impact of HBCUs Today    

While HBCUs are no longer the only path to higher education for people of African descent, due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Black students still attend them in increasing numbers. HBCUs remain a refuge for students to delve further into their cultural heritage and excel academically without fear of discrimination.

Whether it is the groundbreaking STEM and liberal arts programs, low-cost tuition, dynamic atmosphere, or large diversity of students and professors, students are looking to HBCUs for a quality education and reflective cultural experience.

The growing enrollment of ethnically, religiously and culturally diverse students at HBCUs encourage the federal government to respect and invest in the institutions. Legislation continues to pass that strengthens educational resources, increases administrative capacity and provides great financial assistance for students at these powerful think tanks.

HBCUs are golden products of the African diaspora and symbols of the strength and resilience of Black people. Their rich culture and academic rigor have allowed them to persevere despite continued obstacles.

Notable Black Americans that graduated from HBCUs

There is a long list of notable alumni, such as: Spike Lee (Morehouse); Toni Morrison and Vice President Kamala Harris (Howard University); Oprah Winfrey (Tennessee State University); Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Morehouse College); the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (Lincoln University, Howard University); and NFL Hall of Famer and TV Host Michael Strahan (Texas Southern University).

Update: Democracy In Action

On Thursday over 100 people showed up at Stratford Town Hall to participate in the Public Hearing for the appeal of the removal of trees for the tennis court project at Longbrook Park.  Twenty-five residents signed up to speak.

Attorney Kurt Ahlberg, Hearing Officer for the Town of Stratford, chaired the hearing with Raynae Serra, Director of Public Works and Kelly F. Kerrigan, Environmental Conservation Superintendent.

The public comments were overwhelming against the removal of trees.  All of those opposed to the removal of trees were also firmly in favor of new tennis courts for the Town, and all supported the relocation of the tennis courts.

Favoring the removal of trees in the existing Longbrook plan was Bruce Johnson, who recently moved to Stratford, who claims that he looks out his window every day at the tennis courts and is glad to see them go.  Diana Kunkel made it clear that she was not knowledgeable enough to weigh in on the removal of trees, but pointed out that there is an active U.S. Competitive Tennis Team in Stratford, and it was time to replace the tennis courts, as they have been “unplayable” for more than 6 years at least.

Irresponsible and shortsighted were repeated comments.  Peter Bowe, the former Bunnell High School Environmental Science Department head, pointed out that responsible green space planning was necessary in Stratford, but planting 14 trees was not really a viable solution, as it would take over 30 years for them to mature.

Joseph Gerics spoke of the flawed process by the Town of Stratford for the approval of  the Longbrook Tennis Court Project.  Gerics, a former member of the Town of Stratford Planning Commission, went to Longbrook Park in July when the project was listed on the Planning Commission’s agenda.  He found that the project was much larger than reported to planning, and termed it an expansion, not a replacement, as the footprint was much larger.  He spoke of his frustration at trying to get answers from the Town, ignored emails to Town Attorney Bruce Jackson and Christopher Tymniak,Chief Administrative Officer.

According to Gerics, in an email from Susmitha Attota, Town Planner, he was told that according to the Director of Public Works (Raynae Serra) the project was already approved and no hearing was necessary.

To put the public hearing in perspective according to the Town charter any tree removals by the town require a formal notification, and after 10 days, the removal is subject to a Public Hearing if contested.  The notice of tree removals was posted on Town website on December 20th, and 70 appeals were sent to tree warden (Kelly F. Kerrigan) which resulted in the public hearing being scheduled.

In addition, a Change.org petition was generated with over 659 people signing the Save Stratford Trees.

Why the outcry you ask?  Let us look to history; Longbrook Park is a 34-acre park developed in 1935 on a reclaimed swamp with natural areas, a creek, and lit sport fields.  In 2010 the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council listed it on the State Register of Historic Places. This designation was the result of the hard work and due diligence of Dave Killeen, then the Town of Stratford Planner; Matthew P. Catalano, Chair of the Longbrook Park Commission, and Thomas Yemm, Historic District Commission member.

Thursday’s public hearing reinforced many residents concern not only of a lack of transparency in town government decisions (escaberated by the Covid pandemic or opportunistic timing, as there were no open Town Council meetings), and a lack of a solid plan of conservation in the Town.

Center School Development

Spirit (Kaali-Nagy Properties) Awarded Project

Sutton Place

The Center School Selection Committee on February 23rd in a public meeting (for public knowledge, not public input) announced that they had selected Spirit Investors (Kaali-Nagy Properties) to develop the former Center School Property.

According to George Peramen, Chairman of the Center School Selection Committee, the selection was based on previous presentations and materials submitted by Romano Brothers and Spirit Investors.  The Committee’s decision was based on a Developer evaluation having 5 weighted values.

Relative experience 30%: Romano Brothers was a 36, with a weighted 10.89; Spirit  44, with a weighted 13.2.

Design, 25%: Site planning and design: Romano Brothers, 36, weighted 9; Spirit 44.5 with a weighted 11.125.

Financial, 20%: Coming in on budget, worth, etc., Romano Brothers 38.7, weighted, 6; Spirit 41, weighted, 8.2.

Team, 20%: Romano 42, weighted 4.2;  Spirit, 44, weighted 4.4.

References, 15%: Romano Brothers 36, weighted, 5.4; Spirit 44.5, weighted 6.675.

The Final Count:

Romano Brothers 188 (weighted 37)

Spirit Investors 218 (weighted 43.6)

This selection is now submitted to the Town Council to be placed on an agenda for a final vote.

VAX Facts

Effective Monday, February 28th, Stratford Public Schools will make face masks optional. Students will still be required to wear a mask on school buses and vans to comply with federal requirements for mask use on all public transportation.

Effective Tuesday, February 15th, the requirement for masks in all town buildings and indoor facilities was lifted.

Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Stratford as of February 22nd

The Stratford Health Department and State Department of Public Health have confirmed 10,390 COVID-19 cases in Stratford, and 1,932 probable cases for a total of 12,322 cases. This represents an increase of 48 confirmed cases and an increase of 24 probable cases since our last report of February 14, 2022. The Health Department continues to monitor these trends.

Unfortunately, there have been 190 deaths to date. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and loved ones of those lost in our community.

The state is releasing information about how many individuals are vaccinated in all Connecticut communities. As of February 17th, 2022, 78.72% of the town’s population had been vaccinated with at least a first dose.

Note: Positive results from at-home COVID-19 tests are not included.

The Stratford Health Department continues to host vaccination clinics for those seeking first, second and booster doses of the Moderna or J & J vaccine. Please call the Stratford Health Department for more information – 203-385-4090.

Get Vaccinated and Boosted.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has proven to be very contagious, and those who remain unvaccinated should do so as soon as possible. More information on vaccines can be obtained by visiting:  https://portal.ct.gov/Vaccine-Portal.

Multiple clinics available check in to be checked out and vaccinated!  Let’s have the highest number of residents vaccinated in Connecticut!!!



Sterling House Community Center

Projects and Sign-Ups

Stratford Methodist Now In-Person for Worship

Sunday, February 27th at 8:15 a.m. or 10 a.m.
2600 Main St

Please join us in person for worship on Sunday, February 27th at 8:15 or 10:00 a.m. or on our YouTube channel (link below) at 10:00 a.m. If you are attending in person worship, COVID Guidelines have been updated effective 12/24/2021. Masks are required for anyone entering the building based on revised guidelines from the CDC and the Annual Conference.

Out of an abundance of caution, we do have stricter safety protocols as we move forward in our Worship Services.

We will have hand sanitizer and request that social distancing be kept in the Sanctuary. We will also have a contact tracing form, but will not be taking temperatures.

Sunday Worship 2/27/2022 on YouTube – https://youtu.be/I2p5DrNfhRc
Thank you for your help in keeping everyone safe.

Girls With Impact

Sign Up Now

Daughters, nieces, cousins, all girls between 14-18 years of age!
Classes start March 12th at Sterling House Community Center
Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Sterling House Community is collaborating with Girls With Impact and will have full scholarships available to their 10-week mini-MBA program.  Girls With Impact is the nation’s only live, online business and leadership academy for young women, 14-18, an entrepreneurship program made just for girls!

Sterling House is able to offer these scholarships courtesy of Eversource.  Classes start March 12th at Sterling House Community Center on Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Give your student a tremendous leg-up for college and career!  Developed with Harvard leaders, the “mini-MBA” program equips girls with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become the leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow.

Girls With Impact Mission

“As the daughter of a single mother who worked two full-time jobs, a mom of two young girls myself, and an entrepreneur in the financial industry, I know first-hand how difficult it is for women to get ahead – and stay ahead.  That’s why it’s time to create the first generation of women who will lead from the top. Women who will think nothing of creating a business or being the next CEO of their own business.”  Jennifer Openshaw, CEO & Founder, Girls With Impact

Why Girls With Impact?

  • In just three years, 40% of the US workforcewill be freelance.
  • Only 6% of CEOsare women.
  • 36% of entrepreneurs and 14% of engineers are women.
  • Although women start about 38% of all businesses in the US, they receive only 2-6% of venture funding.
  • Women are still paid less – 78c for every dollar earned by men– and continue to be under-represented in high-skill, high-wage jobs.

By creating the next generation leaders – from all walks of life — and a strong network that will serve them in both the corporate and public sectors — we can change these statistics.

Girls With Impact (girlswithimpact.com), an ambitious entrepreneurship program for teen girls. It’s a 12-week MBA-like program, where girls walk in with a seed of an idea (or not), and leave with a business plan.

The program covers topics you might see at an elite business school, like researching a market need, developing a value proposition, creating customer personas, prototyping and forming partnerships, along with softer skills that are rarely taught anywhere, like networking and handling rejection.

“The first time we brought these girls together to show off their final projects, their parents’ jaws just dropped,” says Jennifer Openshaw, Girls with Impact’s founder and CEO. “It really shows that our girls are capable of far more than what we teach them.”

For further information and to register contact:

Emily MacDaniel
Marketing & Media Coordinator
emacdaniel@sterlinghousecc.org or
(203) 378 – 2606 Ext. 108

Mark Your Calendar

Second District Community Meeting

Saturday, March 5th in the Lovell Room of the Stratford Library
Topic: Center School Redevelopment Project
Hosted by: Second District Councilwoman Kaitlyn Shake

Opportunity for constituents to voice their opinions on the selection of Spirit Investors to develop the Center School property.

Children’s Mental Health

by State Representative Joe Gresko, (D)
121st Connecticut House District
State Representative Phil Young (D)
120th Connecticut House District

Dear Neighbor,

The mental health and well-being of our state’s youth and families has been a leading priority of ours. While we saw a rise in depression, anxiety, self-harm, and other forms of distress in young people prior to the pandemic, the increased isolation and uncertainty that has come from the past two years has exacerbated this issue. Our colleagues and I have worked collaboratively on a bipartisan bill to provide additional support, resources and structural change to the children’s mental health system in Connecticut.

HB 5001, An Act Concerning Children’s Mental Health, is a comprehensive piece of legislation encompassing schools, healthcare settings, insurance eligibility, screening tools, and more. A press conference was held on Friday, Feb. 18, to unveil the legislation and discuss the ways in which it will address the needs of Connecticut’s mental and behavior health system for children.

Editors Note:  HB 5001 posted under Elections.

On Friday the Public Health Committee and the Committee on Children held a joint public hearing via Zoom on this piece of legislation and the SB 2, An Act Expanding Preschool and Mental and Behavioral Services for Children. You can watch the hearing on YouTube.

If you have questions, you can contact either State Rep. Joe Gresko, or State Rep. Phil Young, both of whom can be reached at: 800-842-8267.

House Bill 5001

House Bill 5001 – An Act Concerning Children’s Mental Health

Bill Highlights

Workforce Development

Establishes License reciprocity for out of state mental health professionals to increase the number of providers, and establishes a need-based state licensure fee scholarship with a focus on diverse applicants.

Establishes a student loan forgiveness program for eligible mental health workers who serve children and adolescents and who work in shortage areas.

Establishes a new grant program for hiring new child and adolescent psychiatrists and to retain currently employed child and adolescent psychiatrists.

Appropriates funds to expand staffing for pediatric patients needing mental health care in Intensive Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization programs.

Appropriates funds to DCF for Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services to hire and train personnel, expand the geographic reach and extend hours of operation.

Creates a partnership between graduating psychologists and DCF to receive clinical hour credits under supervision at the Department’s new Behavioral Health Urgent Care centers.

Supporting Mental Health in Schools

Establishes a grant program to local school boards to hire social workers, school psychologists. Subsequent drafts will add School Counselors, LMFTs, and other mental health personnel. These grants will also be open to other youth serving entities.

Establishes a new grant program for the delivery of school-based mental health services to children and adolescents; subsequent draft will add funding for Connecticut State Colleges and University system.

Creates and funds the new position of “Trauma Coordinator” in SDE to oversee trauma informed practice training and best practices for teachers, administrators, coaches, SROs, and staff in all school districts.

Requires schools to adopt an improved trauma-informed truancy intervention model developed by SDE, which takes in to account the differences in truancy and school refusal due to mental health issues.

Requires school districts to assess the resources needed to address student trauma impacting children and staff in its schools.

Develops a statewide peer-to-peer mental health support program for students in grades 6-12.

Supporting and Expanding Current Systems

Expands ACCESS Mental Health to provide up to three follow-up telehealth visits directly to patients after a pediatrician has first utilized ACCESS Mental Health on behalf of a patient.

Expands DCF online listings of mental health services by region created by PA 21- 116 to assist local pediatricians’ offices in referring patients to next-level care.

Extends telehealth through 2024.

Sets up procedures for diverting 911 calls to either 211, the suicide lifeline or mental health professionals when appropriate.

Sets up the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Redefining Insurance Coverage for Children with Mental Illness

Prohibits “forced diagnosis”, a known barrier to continuing care.

Requires individual and group health insurers to cover intensive evidence-based services used to treat mental and behavioral health conditions in children and adolescents.

Requires individual and group insurers to cover collaborative care for behavioral healthcare.

Prohibits individual and group insurers from being able to require prior authorization for patients who require acute psychiatric inpatient care. Requires the state study provider reimbursement rates to address lack of reimbursement parity.

Requires the Healthcare Advocate to designate an employee to ensure the office provides its existing services to minors and to ensure access to mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse services for minors.

Resources for Providers and Programs to Directly Care for Children

Provides and funds a Continuing Education program for pediatricians to help develop skills in treating pediatric behavioral health issues in the primary care setting. Directs DPH to develop or procure a mental and behavioral health screening tool which shall be completed by children and, when appropriate, parents prior to each annual pediatrician visit.

Develops a peer support program for parents of children with mental illness.

Have questions? Contact Fiona Brady at Fiona.Brady@cga.ct.gov or (860) 240-1371