Comparison of Two Black Colleges: Howard University and Fisk University

Topics: African American, Black people, Historically black colleges and universities Pages: 5 (1428 words) Published: April 7, 2014
Comparison Paper:
Howard University and Fisk University
There are over one hundred Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States. These are institutions of higher education that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the black community. Two of those colleges include the prestigious Howard University and Fisk University. Both these colleges helped and still help African Americans. Both are very good schools and have several similarities as well as several differences.

Howard University was founded in 1867 by white founders in Washington D.C. It was not initially founded to be an African American school. It was founded to further the education of youth in the liberal arts and sciences in Washington D.C. The founders never envisioned a segregated college for blacks. In early years, it had a few white men and women, Chinese, Native Americans, and Native Africans enrolled. Despite initial funding problems, Howard was one of the only universities established after the Civil War that was able to gather enough resources to provide real education to African Americans, above and beyond a high school-esque curriculum. In the beginning the board of trustees was predominantly white. However, Frederick Douglass and John Mercer Langston were influential black board members. Neither supported Howard being a segregated institution but due to the heavily segregated city of D.C there was not much of a chance of getting a substantial white student population. Langston was technically speaking the first black president of Howard University, when he acted as President for three months in 1875 while President Howard was away. When Howard stepped down as President the board voted on who would take his place. Both Langston and Douglass were nominated. The heavily white board elected a white president, George Whipple but he stepped out of the candidates when Douglass and Langston asserted to the public that white Congregationalists were trying to take over the university. Another white man, Edward P. Smith was elected but blacks did play an increasingly more significant role in Howard University’s development.

In 1907 Booker T. Washington was elected to the board of trustees. It was hoped that his influence would bring more funding from white philanthropists. Blacks at Howard were concerned that Washington might try to bring industrial education to Howard. They were against this and envisioned Howard as a great academic institution instead. Washington did no such thing though and instead lent his support in improving Howard’s medical school and many of its other academic schools. Howard had great success as an intuition of higher learning, due greatly to the excellence and dedication of its facility. Howard was transformed into a first-class university due to the many highly trained blacks that arrived at the school to teach. Segregation and racism prevented many African Americans with advanced degrees from getting teaching jobs at white universities. Howard offered employment and opportunities to these black professors. Alain Locke, a black member of the faculty, established the school’s Department of Philosophy. His literature, The New Negro, helped build the basis for the Harlem Renaissance. Lucy Diggs Slowe, another black faculty member, worked to make the experience of the black woman at Howard equal to that of men academically, socially, and culturally.

In 1926 Howard has its first elected black president in Mordecai Wyatt Johnson. During his thirty-four year tenure, all of Howard’s schools became fully accredited and Howard became the “best-known and the most successful and respected predominantly black university in the world” (Roe 1-2). Johnson constructed new buildings and upgraded libraries and other academic facilities. Johnson upped the number of African Americans on the facility and actively recruited black scholars. Johnson also pursued Congress to make amendments allowing for an...

Cited: 1. Patel, Abha Sood. "Fisk University." Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to
the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century. Ed. PaulFinkelman. Oxford African American Studies Center. Wed Nov 30 14:19:22 EST 2011. .
2. Robinson, Lisa Clayton. "Fisk University." Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African
and African American Experience, Second Edition. Ed. Kwame AnthonyAppiah. Ed. Henry LouisGates Jr.. Oxford African American Studies Center. Wed Nov 30 12:36:31 EST 2011. .
3. Roe, Donald. "Howard University." Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to
the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century. Ed. PaulFinkelman. Oxford African American Studies Center. Wed Nov 30 17:15:15 EST 2011. .
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