African American Wealth, African American Economics, Black Wealth, Black Economics, African American Education, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

This Damning Chart Shows How Much of a Head Start White Families Have Over Black Families – Slate The yawning wealth gap between black and white families is one of the starkest legacies of America's history of racist social policymaking.


As far as simple statistical comparisons go, I can’t recall any representations of it as striking as this chart from a recent report by the left-wing think tank Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. As it shows, the median white household headed by a high-school dropout is wealthier today than the median black household headed by someone who went to college. The latter category includes those who at least attended a two- or four-year college, but not graduate degree holders.

African American Wealth, African American Economics, Black Wealth, Black Economics, African American Education, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

That’s how much of a head start white Americans have. The median black American who pursues higher education is still poorer, judged by net worth, than a white person who never finished 12th grade.

African American Wealth, African American Economics, Black Wealth, Black Economics, African American Education, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhoto | Untitled, Columbus, Ohio, 1950
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

African American Wealth, African American Economics, Black Wealth, Black Economics, African American Education, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhoto | Photograph by Gordon Parks. Courtesy and © The Gordon Parks Foundation

African American Wealth, African American Economics, Black Wealth, Black Economics, African American Education, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhoto | Husband and Wife, Sunday morning, Detroit, Michigan,n 1950, Gordon Parks (American 1912-2006)



Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African American community. They have always allowed admission to students of all races. Most were created in the aftermath of the American Civil War and are in the former slave states, although a few notable exceptions exist.

There are 107 HBCUs in the United States, including public and private institutions, community and four-year institutions, medical and law schools.

Most HBCUs were established after the American Civil War, often with the assistance of northern United States religious missionary organizations. However, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (1837) and Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) (1854), were established for blacks before the American Civil War. In 1856 the AME Church of Ohio collaborated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, a predominantly white denomination, in sponsoring the third college Wilberforce University in Ohio. Established in 1865, Shaw University was the first HBCU in the South to be established after the American Civil War.

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, defines a “part B institution” as: “…any historically black college or university that was established before 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.” Part B of the 1965 Act provides for direct federal aid to Part B institutions.

In 1862, the Federal government’s Morrill Act provided for land grant colleges in each state. Some educational institutions in the North or West were open to blacks before the Civil War. But 17 states, mostly in the South, had segregated systems and generally excluded black students from their land grant colleges. In response, Congress passed the second Morrill Act of 1890, also known as the Agricultural College Act of 1890, requiring states to establish a separate land grant college for blacks if blacks were being excluded from the existing land grant college. Many of the HBCUs were founded by states to satisfy the Second Morrill Act. These land grant schools continue to receive annual federal funding for their research, extension and outreach activities. The Higher Education Act of 1965 established a program for direct federal grants to HBCUs, including federal matching of private endowment contributions.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed an executive order to distribute adequate resources and funds to strengthen the nation’s HBCUs. His executive order manifested the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCU) which is a federally funded program that operates within the U.S. Department of Education.

Starting in 2001, directors of libraries of several HBCUs began discussions about ways to pool their resources and work collaboratively. In 2003, this partnership was formalized as the HBCU Library Alliance, “a consortium that supports the collaboration of information professionals dedicated to providing an array of resources designed to strengthen historically black colleges and Universities and their constituents.”

Some colleges with a predominately black student body are not classified as a HBCU because they were founded (or opened their doors to African Americans) after the implementation of the Sweatt v. Painter and Brown v. Board of Education (1954) rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court (the court decisions which outlawed racial segregation of public education facilities) and the Higher Education Act of 1965. (Wikipedia).