Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Education's blog. See the original post here.
The White House Initiative on HBCUs celebrates the history and legacy of 19 historically Black universities that received land-grant status after the passing of the Second Morrill Act on August 30, 1890. The Federal Government passed the first Morrill Act in 1859 to advance agricultural sciences in the United States, and extended it to Confederate states in 1862. A second Morrill Act was established in 1890 to address discriminatory admissions practices in the formerly Confederate states, granting land-grant HBCUs the same legal status as the 1862 institutions.
Over the 125-year history of the 1890 HBCUs, they have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership, and have greatly contributed to the intellectual capital of the Nation. Today, we celebrate this triumphant moment in American history when this nation boldly addressed discrimination by creating a system of institutions that were so strong and vital that they have persisted and excelled, well beyond the laws that sustained legal discrimination for almost a century.
Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., is the Acting Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.