MTCC September: Exploring Arkansas's HBCUs

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center - Monday, September 25, 2017

September 20-26 is Historically Black Colleges & Universities Week!

Historically, HBCUs were the principal means for providing postsecondary education to black Americans, as none existed prior to the Civil War. Today, “HBCUs are a source of accomplishment and great pride for the African American community as well as the entire nation,” says the U.S. Department of Education. The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center salutes Arkansas’s historically black colleges and universities and their role in surpassing educational goals.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 defined an HBCU as follows: “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.”

Arkansas is home to three historically black colleges and universities.

1. Arkansas Baptist College

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 Arkansas Baptist College was founded in 1884 as the Minister’s Institute. The primary goal of the institute’s founders, the Colored Baptists of Arkansas, was to “raise the educational level within the Negro ministry.” They also worked to support the state in providing higher education to African American youth. After one year the Minister’s Institute changed its name to Arkansas Baptist College. Today the college prides itself as being the “only Baptist-affiliated Historically Black College west of the Mississippi River.”

2. Philander Smith College

Philander Smith College was founded in 1877 and is a private historically black college in Little Rock. The college, related to the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church, was originally named Walden Seminary in honor of Dr. J.M. Walden. Walden was one of the originators and the first corresponding secretary of the Freedmen's Aid Society. In recognition of a generous donation to the college by the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Philander Smith, trustees changed the name of the Seminary to Philander Smith College. The college continues to energize, remind and inspire its students to “change the landscape of higher education.”

3. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

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 The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is a historically black university located in Pine Bluff. UAPB, founded in 1875 as Branch Normal College, was designated as a land-grant institution under the Morrill Act of 1890. The school’s mission was to “educate black students to become teachers for the state’s black schools.” After changes in leadership and reorganization from 1902 to 1922, the school severed its ties to with the Arkansas Industrial University. In 1927, the college was renamed the Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal (AM&N) College. Unprecedented growth led the school to re-join the University of Arkansas System in 1972, gaining a new name and university status. UAPB, known as the Flagship of the Delta, is “dedicated to providing access and opportunity to academically deserving students and producing graduates who are equipped to excel through their contributions and leadership in a 21st century national and global community.”

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