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Contact: Charlotte Newman 202-225-2939

Scott Honors Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Washington, Sep 14 - Today Congressman David Scott (D-GA) submitted the follwoing remarks into the Congressional Record:

Thank you Mr. Speaker and thank you to my colleagues who have also risen to pay tribute to our nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).  September 10-16 is the week designated by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities to recognize the work of HBCUs.  As a graduate of Florida A&M University (FAMU), a historically black university in Tallahassee, Florida, this occasion holds special significance for me.

Over 40 years ago, I arrived on Florida A&M University’s campus in Tallahassee, Florida for my freshman year.  At 16 years old, I was a young man with dreams and great ambition like scores of other black men and women who have filled the halls of historically black colleges and universities for more than a century. My story is theirs; like so many HBCU graduates, the invaluable education I received afforded me countless successes throughout my career.  After graduating from Florida A&M University in 1967, I attended the Wharton school of business, ran a successful advertising firm, and served in the Georgia State Senate for 26 years.  Today I represent the 13th Congressional District.

Indeed just as my experience reflects the opportunities available to HBCU graduates, the evolution of Florida A&M represents the growth of many HBCUs from niche schools to solid academic institutions with national recognition.  Florida A&M University evolved from a small, little known school in Florida’s panhandle to a university ranked the best overall university for African American students by Black Enterprise in 2006. Florida A&M University has created a culture of achievement in its undergraduate and graduate programs.  In 1997 Florida A&M University beat out thousands of institutions to receive the College of the Year honor from Time Magazine-Princeton Review.

Florida A&M University’s success is only a part of a larger story of achievement for numerous institutions and the students who fill their hollowed halls.  Over 100 HBCUs continue to educate the best and brightest of America’s emerging leaders.  In 2001, HBCUs awarded one-fifth of all bachelor’s degrees earned by black students nationally.  HBCU graduates fill professional ranks, closing gaps in professional and economic attainment. One example of this can be found at Xavier University in Louisiana.  Xavier University outranks all institutions in the country for the placement of black students into medical schools.

Moreover, HBCUs are embedded within America’s historical and cultural fabric.  Their accomplished graduates have spurred social change, led political movements, forged divergent artistic paths, and heralded the dawning of new literary ages.  To list all the prestigious alumni of HBCUs would require volumes.  In summation, it can be said that without them and the institutions that honed their skills, there would have been no Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Movement, Brown vs. Board of Education, and countless other eras and historical turning points which redefined the lives of all Americans.

Today I commend the work of HBCUs and the leaders and scholars that have dedicated their abilities to leading them into the 21st Century.  I wish each institution a century’s more of unparalleled achievement. Borrowing from the Black National Anthem,

…We have come over a way that with tears have been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past, Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast….

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