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Seal of the United States of America

House of Representatives

September 28, 2006
In Honor and Appreciation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities
   Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Historically Black Colleges and Universities were not officially recognized by the government until 1964, but these valuable institutions have had a lasting impact on our nation for more than a century.

   As the United States Representative for Arkansas's Fourth Congressional District, I have the distinct honor to represent my state's largest and only four-year public Historically Black University, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. UAPB was founded in 1890 and now provides more than 3,600 students with a quality, affordable education.

   The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is an anchor for the town of more than 55,000 people as it provides jobs, resources, opportunities and education to the entire region. Growing up in rural Arkansas, I had the unfortunate opportunity to see how segregation affected Southern towns. The division that was placed on different cultures was stretched far and wide. Prior to 1964, it was almost impossible for an African American student to enroll in a public institution of higher education. Thankfully, these students had the opportunity to continue learning and pursuing their dream because of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. When doors were shut to African American students, those students refused to take no for an answer and created institutions of higher education where education was the focus, not a distraction.

   Historically Black Colleges and Universities are vital to the education of our nation's youth. They enroll 14 percent of all African American students in higher education, yet the 102 recognized Historically Black Colleges and Universities only constitute three percent of America's 4,084 institutions of higher education. Twenty-four percent of all baccalaureate degrees earned by African Americans nationwide are earned in our Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

   I wish that those brave Americans who formed the first black college could be here today to see the lasting impact they have had on the thousands of Americans who have benefited from an education at such an institution. Just think, without these colleges, we might have never known or heard from American icons such as Martin Luther King, Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, Walter Payton or Oprah Winfrey. There is no doubt in my mind or my heart, that these great people were the product of an invaluable institution which motivated them to be leaders they became.

   I am proud to have joined with my friend and colleague Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON in passing legislation honoring our nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities and I will fight to ensure their continued excellence in education will live on.

   I am so pleased to have the opportunity to properly recognize our nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities before the United States Congress for their outstanding contributions to the communities and lives they have educated and will continue to impact. Please join me in applauding the amazing work these institutions have done over the course of history.

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