The role of HBCUs in a post-affirmative action America

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By Char Adams, NBC News

Leaders at historically Black colleges and universities say overturning race-conscious admissions would have a dire impact on higher education.

A rally outside the Supreme Court in support of affirmative action on Oct. 31. (Allison Shelley)

Historically Black colleges and universities are just as prestigious as Ivy League schools, and they’re diverse. That is why, leaders say, HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions will be even more important to students of color should the Supreme Court end affirmative action in college admissions. 

As conservative Supreme Court justices seem poised to end the explicit consideration of race in college admissions, HBCU leaders say doing away with race-conscious admissions would have a dire impact on racial equity in the country. They believe it would create “racially isolated” colleges and universities, making HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, or MSIs, among the only institutions where Black and Latino students would feel supported and safe. 

“Our missions are concerned with racial justice and racial equity. So the overturn of race-conscious admissions would be a serious blow to the mission of HBCUs and all minority-serving institutions,” said Danielle R. Holley, a law professor and the dean of Howard University School of Law.

“I hope that no one will assume that HBCUs and MSIs will be able to absorb the number of students who may feel they are no longer welcome at racially isolated, predominantly white universities.”

She said overturning race-conscious admissions would even “decrease the amount of racially diverse professors for universities across the country,” adding that “many professors are educated at Harvard” and that the loss of race-conscious admissions would likely “decrease the amount of racial diversity in academia in a very significant way.”

Discover how affirmative action impacts HBCUs.

HBCUs need the staff as enrollment increases despite threats of violence and attempts to eliminate federal funding.

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