African-American Students Historical Progression in Higher Education: After World War II to the late 1970s Howard Simms
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Prior to the beginning of World War II there was moderate availability of higher education institutions for minority students in United States. Predominantly white institutions (PWI’s) had a long-standing history and prominence in most states of the union (Bickel, 1998). Predominantly White Institutions in a very limited fashion were available for African American student enrollment; however, for the masses these institutions were not readily accessible to many college age, high school graduates, and enrollment and access was highly forbidden and restricted in all of the lower southern states (Harper, Patton & Wooden, 2009). In response to this limited accessibility, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and the junior college, later known as the current community college system, were cultivated and developed to expand upon the increased demands for higher education opportunities for African-American students (Truman). By the conclusion of World War II, thousands of returning, nontraditional veterans flooded the enrollment of higher education institutions, almost doubling most institutional enrollment figures in a matter of a few years (Gilbert and Heller, 2010). Minority students and soldiers were also seeking similar access to higher education institutions. African-American student enrollment escalated from a mere few hundred students in southern regional universities and northern state colleges, to quadrupling to almost 100,000 students by end of 1970 (Lucas, 1994). Despite the increased enrollment figures, for many decades access to higher educational institutions were blocked by limiting access and availability. Even after multiple landmark court cases and presidential legislation decrees, beginning with the second Morrill Land–Grant Act of 1890, The Truman Commission of 1947, Brown versus the Board of Education in 1954, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that also include Title VI legislation, and the Health, Education and Wellness departments attempted enforcement of desegregation for institutions in the lower southern states in 1965, it took multiple decades before desegregation was successfully challenged and the open integration of predominantly white universities and college became more readily acceptable (Harper, Patton & Wooden, 2009). Statement of Purpose
This historical development paper will highlight the historical context of the legal issues concerning the higher education system and the pathways taken by students to access various higher educational institutions at the conclusion of World War II through the late 1970’s. This will include an understanding of the legal topics surrounding the inclusion of minority students to higher education institutions, the foundational basis behind the creation of junior colleges, the state-based attacks on enrollment to historically black institutions and the tactics used by state legislators to limit university access (particularly in southern states), admission barriers for students and families to various institutions, the experience of African American students at historically black colleges versus predominantly white institutions and a general understanding of contemporary issues surrounding access, retention and success in higher education.
A contextual understanding of the legal issues surrounding higher education in the late 1800s through the late 1970s will serve as the base of knowledge for understanding the progression of higher education in United States. Beginning with the Morrill Land–Grant Act of 1890, this declared that no federal funding will be provided to states that denied admission to colleges based on the race of the applicants unless separate, yet equal, facilities were also provided for...
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