Tell Them We Are Rising' Tackles Impact Of Historically Black Colleges

NPR

 

February is Black History Month. That's the time of year when we make a special effort to learn about some of the key people who've shaped black life in America. But now we're going to hear more about one of the key institutions that shaped many of those figures. We're talking about historically black colleges and universities, HBCUs. Many of the African-Americans whose names you know attended them, like the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, even the star of the new "Black Panther" movie, Chadwick Boseman. You might remember when newly-installed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called these schools, quote, "pioneers of school choice" in a statement following a listening session with HBCU leaders.

But these institutions were founded when African-Americans, many formerly enslaved, did not have a choice. They were not allowed to attend most schools, yet they created spaces that nurtured and inspired political leadership and economic advancement. Filmmaker Stanley Nelson tells that story in his latest documentary, "Tell Them We Are Rising: The Stories Of Black Colleges And Universities." 

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Amber J. Adams