Black households have a fraction of the wealth of white households, leaving them in a much more precarious financial situation when a crisis strikes, such as the pandemic. Wealth allows households to rebound from a financial emergency, invest in their children’s education, start a business, relocate for better opportunities and buy a house. Unfortunately, the wealth gap between white and black Americans has not decreased in the last 50 years. In 2019, the median wealth (without defined-benefit pensions) of Black households in the United States was $24,100, compared with $189,100 for white households. Homeownership contributing significantly to household wealth was 72% for whites compared to 42% for blacks. And the reasons for the black-white wealth gap are not a mystery. They have resulted from centuries of policies that have systematically disadvantaged Black Americans’ ability to build, maintain, and pass on wealth.
Research shows that one of the proven ways to narrow this gap is through higher education, especially for those who graduate in the STEM, legal and medical fields, which offer higher-paying career opportunities. Black professionals have relied on HBCUs more than any ot
her higher education institution for over 180 years. They graduate 80% of Black judges, 50% of Black doctors, 50% of Black lawyers, 40% of all Black US Congress members, and award 24% of all bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields. And while HBCUs have received record funding over the last two years, with more than 6.5 billion allocated by the Federal government, that doesn’t begin to make up for decades of neglect.
Our Money Matters, a free platform to help HBCU students and community residents get on the path to financial wellness, offers six reasons why minority institutions need our continued advocacy.
HBCUs have traditionally had to do much more with less. And yet, they have positively impacted society to a far greater degree than the historically meager investments made from private and public sources. HBCUs provide an average of 6,385 jobs in each state and territory where they are located and generate an average of $704.7 million a year in total economic impact. They make up just 3% of higher education institutions in the country, but they educate 10% of all Black college students. And according to recent research, increasing the strength of HBCUs around the U.S. could increase Black worker incomes by about $10 billion, strengthening the economy with $1.2 billion in incremental business profit, additional consumer expenditures of $1 billion, and help to reduce the wealth imbalance.
In conclusion, Black History Month is important for HBCUs as it allows these institutions to celebrate the contributions and achievements of African Americans, recognize the legacy of their institutions, and provide a space for students and faculty to learn and share their perspectives.
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Not All the Same: Although HBCU's are frequently lumped together, contrary to popular belief, all HBCU's are not the same. →
When the Morrill Land-Grant Act was passed (1862) only Alcorn State University in Mississippi was open to African-Americans.