Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez –
Every February, Black History Month is an opportunity to focus on the many achievements and contributions of African Americans. In recognition of Black History Month, I would like to commemorate the brave and dedicated individuals who founded the five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that are SCICU member institutions.
We are all proud of the 150-year history of HBCUs in South Carolina, beginning with Claflin University, founded in 1869 with the mission of offering, for the first time in South Carolina, quality higher education for men and women “regardless of race, complexion, or religious opinion.”
Allen University and Benedict College were both founded one year later. Voorhees College traces its roots back to 1897 and Morris College was established in 1908.
The founders of these HBCUs faced segregation, discrimination and brutal opposition, but they did not waver in their commitment. Buildings may have been burned and faculty, staff, and students threatened, but, owing to their courage, the institutions persisted.
These institutions survived the Great Depression thanks to strong, visionary leaders and generous patrons dedicated to the proposition that all deserve the promise of a brighter future through higher education.
Our HBCUs fueled the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s with a steady stream of well-educated and devoted young men and women who embraced the legacy of courage in the face of injustice they inherited from the founders of these institutions.
Today, our HBCUs are inspiring a new generation of leaders by encouraging them academically to achieve all of which they’re capable and challenging them to advance society with the same passion as those who preceded them.