Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions

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Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions

DIVERSITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION Series Editor: Henry T. Frierson Recent Volumes: Volume 1: Volume 2: Volume 3: Volume 4

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DIVERSITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION Series Editor: Henry T. Frierson Recent Volumes: Volume 1: Volume 2: Volume 3: Volume 4:

Volume 5:

Mentoring and Diversity in Higher Education – Edited by H. T. Frierson Examining Prote´ge´-Mentor Experiences – Edited by H. T. Frierson Latinos in Higher Education – Edited by David J. Leo´n Beyond Small Numbers: Voices of African American PhD Chemists – Edited by Willie Pearson, Jr. Lessons in Leadership: Executive Leadership Programs for Advancing Diversity in Higher Education – Edited by David J. Leo´n



HENRY T. FRIERSON University of Florida, USA

WILLIE PEARSON, JR. Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

JAMES H. WYCHE National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia, USA

United Kingdom – North America – Japan India – Malaysia – China

Emerald Group Publishing Limited Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK First edition 2009 Copyright r 2009 Emerald Group Publishing Limited Reprints and permission service Contact: [email protected] No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. No responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of information contained in the text, illustrations or advertisements. The opinions expressed in these chapters are not necessarily those of the Editor or the publisher. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN: 978-1-84855-898-4 ISSN: 1479-3644 (Series)

Awarded in recognition of Emerald’s production department’s adherence to quality systems and processes when preparing scholarly journals for print















THE PARTICIPATION RATES OF BLACK MALES IN HIGHER EDUCATION: 1968–2007 Marie-Claude E. Jipguep, Roderick J. Harrison and Florence B. Bonner v





















Higher Education and Organizational Change Division, Department of Education, The University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Candice P. Baldwin

Director of Multicultural Affairs, Mount Ida College, Newton, MA, USA

Florence B. Bonner

Office of the Vice President for Research and Compliance, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA

Derrick Brown

TRIO and Special Programs, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL, USA

Launcelot I. Brown

Department of Educational Foundations & Leadership, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Edward C. Bush

Student Services, Riverside City College, Riverside, CA, USA

Lawson Bush, V

CSULA/UCI Joint Doctoral Program in Urban Educational Leadership, California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Sylvia Marion Carley

Former Campus President, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL, USA

Michael J. Cuyjet

Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA

William A. Darity, Jr.

Stanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA ix



Stephanie Y. Evans

African American Studies and Women’s Studies, The University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Jodi Fisler

School of Education, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, USA

Terrence L. Freeman

Department of Engineering and Technology, St. Louis Community College, St. Louis, MO, USA

Antoine M. Garibaldi

President and Professor of Education, Gannon University, Erie, PA, USA

Raymond Gavins

Department of History, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Kimberly A. Griffin

College Student Affairs and Higher Education, Center for the Study of Higher Education, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

Roderick J. Harrison

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA; Office of the Vice President for Research and Compliance, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA

Ronald D. Henderson

NEA Research Department, National Education Association, Washington, DC, USA

Rodney K. Hopson

Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III

President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Baltimore, MD, USA

Marcus A. Huggans

The National Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (GEM) Consortium, Washington, DC, USA


List of Contributors

Uma M. Jayakumar

National Center for Institutional Diversity, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Marie-Claude E. Jipguep

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA

Malana M. Jones

Higher Education and Organizational Change Division, Department of Education, The University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Malick Kouyate

Independent Professor

Kenneth I. Maton

Community and Applied Social Psychology, Program in Human Services Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA

James M. Patton

School of Education, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, USA

Kenneth Ray, Jr.

Student Services and Enrollment Management, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL, USA

Rhonda Vonshay Sharpe

Department of Business and Economics, Bennett College, Greensboro, NC, USA; Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance, Law Center, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA

Richard R. Verdugo

NEA Human and Civil Rights Department, National Education Association, Washington, DC, USA

Don ‘‘Ajene’’ Wilcoxson

Ujima Program, Riverside City College, Riverside CA, USA

PREFACE This sixth volume in the Diversity in Higher Education Series is the first of two that specifically addresses the subject of the disproportional decline of Black American males in higher education. As editors, the three of us viewed this topic as so critical and in need of more acknowledgment regarding its serious nature. Though we initially wanted to publish such a volume a year earlier, all three of us had position changes and subsequent workloads that interfered with our devoting time to the project; however, we kept receiving queries as to when could there be an expected publication date for this volume. Given the consistent interest and encouragement, and our own internal need to finish the volume, we forged ahead. This volume and the following one were compelling projects that we sought to complete in spite of the many competing factors for our time. The result is a volume that we believe is better than what we would have produced a year ago. We sought to add voices, from both men and women, in the call to address this long festering issue. For too long, the issue of the disproportional decline of the Black American male in higher education was like the towering grizzly bear in the room that no would acknowledge for fear that its presence would be clearly and too painfully felt. It is apparent that this looming presence can no longer be ignored and the need to examine and widely address this situation is now so vivid. We see this volume and the next playing a contributing role to forthrightly discussing and addressing the conditions that we are observing today. Collectively, the contributing authors provide critical historical overviews and analyses pertaining to Black American males in higher education and Black Americans of both genders. Those authors provide data along with accompanying reports from which conclusions could be drawn; there are discussions of the effectiveness of programs; conceptual pieces that discussed the issue of the presence or lack thereof of Black American males in higher education from a range of perspective. With that, we offer thanks to those who shared our interest and passion by contributing chapters to this volume and the one that follows. As a final note, we wish to thank Carol Camp Yeakey of Washington University, Patricia Marshall of North Carolina State University, and xiii



Saundra Murray Nettles, formerly of Georgia Southern University, who provided reviews of selected manuscripts for this volume. Henry T. Frierson Willie Pearson, Jr. James H. Wyche Editors

FOREWORD Volume 6: Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions is a compilation of 14 chapters based on the work conducted by a distinguished group of researchers and educators from nine predominantly White universities, one historically Black university, and three community colleges as well as a major national teacher education association. In addition to providing data, both current and historical, on the participation of Black American males in higher education, the chapters present a candid assessment of some of the factors that have contributed to the proportional decline of their participation. Very importantly, the individual chapters make clear the achievements in higher education of both Black men and women, despite horrendous historical constraints and despite often finding themselves on campuses where the climate was less than welcoming. During my tenure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we conducted a study of the racial climate on campus and learned of incidents involving faculty members that caused some Black students to question whether they actually belonged at the Institute, even though they had met the same admissions criteria as nonBlack students. What many of these students experienced was a climate of low expectations. At the same time, we learned of the supportive mentoring provided to other Black students by caring and concerned Black and White faculty and staff. The President of the Institute at that time took ownership of the climate concerns in a very public way and demonstrated the leadership needed from the top to address the concerns. His approach stood in sharp contrast to what often happens on other campuses when the responsibility for addressing climate issues is passed down to others. While campus climate can be either inhibiting or facilitating, an unwelcoming climate alone does not explain the self-doubt exhibited by a number of Black students, especially Black males. Other contributing factors pointed out in the chapters include a lack of role models for Black male students as they move through the K-12 system and beyond; peer pressure, and often self-imposed pressure, not to outperform one’s peers academically; a lack of appreciation for the purpose or value of education and its link to one’s quality of life, an understanding not lost on peers from xv



more affluent backgrounds; and limited structured opportunities to apply what is learned as well as the lack of encouragement to explore or design new ways to utilize the knowledge gained. When President Barack Obama took the oath of office, he said, ‘‘What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility.’’ This challenge clearly applies to the higher education of Black males. The data, research findings, and strategies offered in these chapters can form the basis for a comprehensive national plan of action for recruiting and retaining more Black males in higher education. Successfully implementing such a plan will require responsible action on the part of a broad spectrum of individuals, including parents, teachers, college and university faculty, community and national organizations, and, most importantly, Black male students themselves and their male and female peers. Inclusive institutional policies and practices as well as the supportive actions of administrators, faculty, and students can provide the welcoming and affirming environment needed for Black males and, indeed, for all students, to thrive and perform beyond their own expectations. Shirley M. McBay Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network

INVISIBLE MEN – ALMOST: THE DIMINUTION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES IN HIGHER EDUCATION Michael J. Cuyjet Research shows that the academic achievement ‘‘leakage’’ of bright, capable African American males begins around third grade and continues throughout the educational pipeline and the effects are seen at the doctoral and advanced professional educational levels (Holzman, 2006; Jackson, 2003; Roderick, 2003). While there is unfortunate attrition of all kinds of students – of different racial/ethnic groups and different genders – the percentages of the losses among African American males are higher than for other identifiable groups. Unfortunately, we also find that some of the Black males who leave the educational system before they get to where they can do the most good for themselves and their society find themselves in places we do not want them to be – addicted to drugs, chronically unemployed, or in prison or other parts of the criminal justice system. Because the educational pipeline for Black males has been allowed to deteriorate largely unchecked, the solution to the social crisis of undereducation of large numbers of Black males is now a massive undertaking with an extremely high cost to rectify the various aspects of the problems we find. And, like any undertaking of great volume and massive complexity, the resolution of the educational issues for Black males will require personnel Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 1–11 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006005




with special skills and knowledge to attend to the repair of certain parts of the ‘‘pipeline’’ system along its leaky path. Because many of us – chapter authors of this volume and readers alike – have come to understand how the system of US higher education works (sometimes through our own hardfought battles for equity and recognition), we must use the resources among us to identify the specific aspects of the situation faced by Black male students, formulate solutions to the problems they encounter, and recruit and use whatever allies and support structures are necessary to preserve, to the best of our abilities, both the quality and quantity of the African American males who enroll in institutions of higher education. Like many of the contributors to this body of work, my research has been focused on African American male college students, particularly those in undergraduate programs. I suspect many of these other contributors have received the same criticism I have heard occasionally, asking why we do not examine the problems of Black male students in middle school or high school, where they encounter obstacles that prevent them from even getting to postsecondary institutions. My response is that this whole task is so great and so pervasive that it requires many of us to attend to it, each addressing the part of the ‘‘pipeline’’ where our expertise leads us. Just like a real municipal water project would require the various skills of civil and mechanical engineers, aquatic biologists, welders and pipe fitters, urban demographers, even scuba divers to go into the larger pipes themselves (to name a few), our efforts to make the US educational system more responsive to the needs of Black male students requires the efforts of people with different skills and interests attending to the various parts of the educational pipeline. This volume looks at the higher education portion of the educational pipeline and hopefully provides a means by which professionals of all different skills in postsecondary education can make an impact on the effort to matriculate and graduate more collegiate African American men. The various authors will present and analyze a number of important issues related to the successes of African American college men and offer a variety of proposals and solutions, starting with an examination of the history of the barriers to higher education faced by Black men by Raymond Gavins and Stephanie Evans’ retrospective of a group of the ‘‘founding fathers’’ of Black male collegiate scholarship. As a way of introducing this topic, however, let us examine what may be one of the most significant underlying factors affecting the status of African American men on US college campuses – their disproportionally low numbers and their corresponding ‘‘invisibility’’ in the campus community.


Diminution of African American Males in Higher Education

DISPROPORTIONALLY LOW NUMBERS The first element contributing to the low number of African American men in college is the set of factors that cause Black men to not even consider applying or enrolling. In this volume, Launcelot Brown, Malick Koyate, and Rodney Hopson explore why so many Black men fail to grasp the opportunity to go to college while Rhonda Sharpe and William Darity examine some specific factors affecting the decision not to enroll. Also, Candace Baldwin, Jodi Fisler, and James Patton delineate issues linked to the status and perceptions of Black men in society as a whole that contribute to their absence from our campuses. Among those who do make the decision to attend college, there have, admittedly, been improvements over the past quarter century in the numbers of African American men attending college. Nonetheless, the progress has been slower than for any other ethnic/gender group, with the male–female ratio being the worst of any of the federal demographic groups, and the graduation rates being poorer than any other group except American Indian men. As Table 1 indicates, there are nearly two Black women for every Black man in college nationwide. While there are a very few campuses that have a one-to-one male-to-female ratio – like Wilberforce University in Ohio (K. Messer, personal communication, May 27, 2008) – many more campuses have the aforementioned two-to-one female-to-male ratio, with all too many instances of even more disproportionate student bodies. One such example is found in a report on pre-Katrina Dillard University in which a three-to-one female-to-male ratio existed in 2004 (Foston, 2004). Other chapters in this volume will explore some of the ramifications and consequences of this disproportion of African American men and women in college. In particular, Richard R. Verdugo, Ronald D. Henderson, and Thomas H. Dial examine the size, distribution, and composition of the Table 1.

College Enrollment by Ethnicity and Gender.

Federal Ethnic Groupings

Men (%)

Women (%)

American Indian Asian Black, African American Hispanic, non-Black White Nonresident alien

39.3 46.0 34.9 41.2 43.6 53.0

60.7 54.0 65.1 58.5 56.4 47.0

Source: College Enrollment (2008) (Census data, 2006).



African American male college population while Marie-Claude Jipguep, Roderick Harrison, and Florence Bonner look for specific elements contributing to the male–female imbalance in the student population from 1968 to 2007. Kimberly Griffin, Uma Jayakumar, Malana Jones, and Walter Allen will seek answers to the questions about Black male college enrollment by comparing demographic characteristics of students in 2004 with their brothers over 34 years back in time. So, although other authors will explain specific aspects of the disproportion of Black men in higher education, it is useful to mention here three areas in which research has shown that the disproportion of African American males has had a measurable impact. First, when the number of Black males is substantially lower than the number of Black females on a given campus, it has a negative effect on the relationships among Black student men and women. As an example of this, the African American men who participated in some of Kimbrough’s focus group interviews reported that their male peers took advantage of women on campus in ‘‘a climate in which the abuse and objectification of women was not only accepted, but also glamorized’’ (Kimbrough & Harper, 2006, p. 201). Similarly, Harper (2004) found that sex with multiple partners is a measure of manhood among some Black male college students. While such behaviors might occur in any environment, they are much more likely to occur in a situation in which the competition for dates is exacerbated by the low number of African American men on campus. The relationship situation is also seen as a factor in a shift in dating patterns for some Black women. Hughes (2003) has indicated that the paucity of Black men on many campuses has spawned an increase in interracial dating among African American women over the past few years. A second consequence of lower numbers of African American men at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) is the diminished opportunity for White students to interact with Black students and particularly with Black male students. Many schools promote diversity among the student body with the expectation that diverse members of the campus community will interact and learn from each other culturally. Although there is some evidence that students do not always take advantage of the opportunity to meet others different from themselves, the fact remains that in order for such cultural exchanges to occur, there must be sufficient numbers of students representing different cultures for these interactions to happen. Research has documented the benefits of intercultural interaction among college students, including Strayhorn’s recent study (2008) indicating that diverse interactions result in increased sense of belonging on campus for both African American and White male students. However, simply stated, if

Diminution of African American Males in Higher Education


there are very few African American men on campus, the likelihood that non-Black students will meet and get to know Black male students decreases dramatically. In other words, this lack of interaction means that opportunities to dispel negative stereotypes about Black males, by simply encountering individuals that belie the negative images, will also be lost. In particular, the stereotype of the weak Black man dominated by the strong Black women is inadvertently reinforced on campuses where Black women who get involved in activities and organizations, particular in leadership roles, greatly outnumber Black men (Cuyjet, 2006). African American women, whose matriculation numbers are already twice that of African American men, have a graduation rate one-third higher than the rate for African American men – exacerbating an already large disproportion. The imbalance worsens in graduate school, as demonstrated by the even smaller proportion – 28 percent – of Black masters recipients that are male. (See Antoine Garibaldi’s chapter for a closer examination of Black males at the undergraduate, graduate, and first professional degree levels, as well as the situation at historically Black colleges and universities.) This demonstrates a third impact of the skewed proportion of African American college men, namely, the continued disproportion of Black women with degrees compared to Black men. King (1999) and Porter and Bronzaft (1995) are just two of the researchers who have examined the concern voiced by college-educated African American women about the scarcity of potential partners that mirror their educational, economic, and professional accomplishments. If more of these successful Black women choose not to marry and bear children, it could, in the long run, have a negative effect on the relative number of middle class versus lower socioeconomic class members of the Black community. Table 2 indicates that the low proportion of African American males in college actually worsens by undergraduate graduation. Only American Indian males have a lower percentage of graduation than African American men.

INVISIBILITY ISSUES While the two tables in this chapter offer a stark depiction of some of the concerns about the status of African American males in the US college community, you may notice that, unfortunately, these are not typical of the tables normally presented by most institutions that share demographic information about their students. A particular concern of this author and one that he has been expressing for some years now is the tendency to



Table 2.

6-Year Public Graduation Rates by Ethnicity and Gender.

Federal Ethnic Groupings

Men (%)

Women (%)

American Indian Asian Black, African American Hispanic, non-Black White Race unknown Nonresident alien

31.4 58.9 32.5 38.4 52.6 48.5 50.2

37.6 67.0 43.4 46.5 58.9 54.6 55.6

Source: Six-year graduation rates (2008) (2000–2001 freshmen).

examine student populations by gender only or by ethnicity only and not by the intersect of ethnicity and gender. When we examine demographic data on the populations and subpopulations in our colleges and universities, it is imperative that we disaggregate the data to the point at which it gives us a clear picture of the characteristics of the students represented in the demographic group under scrutiny. A typical examination of the student body identifies the students by ethnicity, often using the standard racial/ethnic groups identified by the federal government. It then often becomes the responsibility of the researcher or the professional administrator to make special requests to have reports on students disaggregated to see the data for ethnicity and gender in order to compare the experiences of men and women within ethnic categories. Typical of anecdotal stories of new, important information revealed by the disaggregation of data is a situation reported at Arizona State University in which statistical data, including grade point averages (GPAs) for students, are reported by ethnic group and then for women. It required prodding of the university record-keepers to reissue these data broken down by gender, which revealed that the Black women’s GPAs were substantially higher than the mean reported for all Black students, while the GPAs of the Black males were significantly lower than the mean for both genders. Without the revelation of the separate data, the specific problem of low academic performance by the institution’s African American males might have gone undetected and the subsequent intervention put in place to begin to address this deficiency may not have been initiated (A. Jones, personal communication, February 10, 2009). This is the first of what I call the four invisibility factors that affect African American men on many PWI campuses. The relatively higher academic

Diminution of African American Males in Higher Education


performance of African American females on most campuses masks the lower academic performances often exhibited by a large number (but clearly not all) of the African American male students. This ‘‘masking’’ appears in a number of academically related measures besides GPAs. Significant differences in reported behaviors can be found when exploring data on how Black men and Black women differ on such academic-related factors as their interactions with faculty, use of the library, how they access academic assistance programs and agencies, how they enlist help from peers for class assignments, and their general study habits (Cuyjet, 1997). Such differences in their collegiate behaviors are not limited to academic behaviors. By separating survey responses of Black men and women about their experiences in extracurricular involvement in organizations and programs, participation in campus leadership roles, the use of recreational facilities, and the use of student services such as the career center or counseling center, it becomes evident that just one set of data on both Black men and women is inadequate to give a true picture of what students are doing and how we can be of greater assistance to them to enhance their matriculation experience. A second kind of invisibility to which African American college men can be subjected is the kind of ‘‘hiding in plain sight’’ that Ralph Ellison depicted in his classic novel, Invisible Man (1952). Succumbing to a ‘‘cultural myopia,’’ members of the majority culture easily recognize minority individuals who assimilate to the majority culture and exhibit characteristics typical of that dominant culture. Yet, these same majority individuals seem strangely unable to ‘‘see’’ others around them who may exhibit different cultural behaviors. Thus, campuses with sufficient numbers of Black or Latino or Asian students, to sustain a critical cultural mass, can have any number of ‘‘subcultures’’ that can go unnoticed by the members of the majority culture. This becomes an issue when such unassimilated groups are invisible to campus administrators whose job is to tend to the needs of all students. Without an awareness and appreciation for the legitimacy of the alternative culture that marginalized students bring with them from the ‘‘hood’ or the barrio and recreate on campus, such administrators can fail to serve some of the students who need their attention the most. Black men in particular often demonstrate a reluctance to assimilate to the majority culture’s customs, behaviors, and characteristics. In fact, Black males who perceive themselves as denied the dominant culture’s typical manifestations of manhood often adopt alternative cultural behaviors to demonstrate manhood attainment (Lee & Bailey, 1999). Such cultural behaviors can include alternate forms of dress, distinctive forms of language, and other distinct social norms. One form of such idiosyncratic behavior is called ‘‘cool pose’’ described as



‘‘a ritualized form of masculinity that entails behaviors, scripts, physical posturing, impression management, and carefully crafted performances that deliver a single, critical message: pride, strength, and control’’ (Majors & Billson, 1992, p. 4). Being cool ‘‘shows both the dominant culture and the Black male himself that he is strong and powerful’’ (p. 5). College administrators unaccustomed to recognizing such behaviors as positive manifestations of a legitimate cultural will need to learn to appreciate the strength that they convey and to understand that what may be different from majority culture is not necessarily deficient to it. Even in those instances where the administration of a PWI seems to recognize the validity of a distinct Black male culture within the campus community, there is a danger of a third kind of invisibility, that of failing to recognize and accommodate the variety of backgrounds and various community characteristics from which Black men come to the campus. While not exactly a stereotype, on some campuses a predominant assessment of the typical Black male student emerges. This is often influenced by general perceptions about Black men that persist across the country – the impression of Black men as academically underprepared for college by underperforming schools; having lived in predominantly Black, lower socioeconomic neighborhoods; having an affinity toward physical activities in recreation and as a means of resolving issues rather than cerebral or more ‘‘refined’’ behavior; and exhibiting an aversion to participating in the dominant culture’s ways of behaving. In fact, there are some students on our campuses who do manifest all of those characteristics, but there are many more whose background belies these images. African American males do come to our campuses from lower socioeconomic class urban neighborhoods, but they also come from affluent suburban and urban areas where they have been exposed to such advantages as numerous Advanced Placement high school classes. Black men might even come to the campus from rural areas where they have been actively involved in Future Farmers of America. While it is sadly true that a disproportionate number of African American male students come from families in the lower socioeconomic quartile, we must recognize that a growing number have had solid middle class backgrounds and some are from more affluent homes, having experienced some of the blessings of wealth during their upbringing. Also, as strictly segregated neighborhoods and schools give way to more mixed classrooms and communities, the image of the Black male student coming from a mostly Black environment to the foreign, chilly climate of a mostly White campus, while still true for some, must yield to the fact that more and more Black students have had a range

Diminution of African American Males in Higher Education


of acculturation experiences as a result of their interpersonal interactions in racially integrated schools and neighborhoods. In addition to the possibility of being rendered invisible among the general student population, this author has witnessed a fourth kind of invisibility – African American men being marginalized (becoming invisible) among the other African American men on campus. This phenomenon occurs when there is a large plurality or even a majority of African American men at a particular college who share a common characteristic. There are campuses at which the majority of African American students are athletes. In such an environment, it is not difficult to ascribe the label of athlete to all Black men, thus marginalizing all nonathletes. Another example would be if a campus has a very high proportion of fraternity and sorority members and most of the Black men on campus are, correspondingly, members of these organizations, then nonfraternity men could become socially marginalized or even ostracized. It is unfortunately all too easy to assume that any Black male student comes from an academically underprepared background and thus needs remedial assistance. In such an environment, academically gifted Black men are invisible and often tragically marginalized. This writer recalls a situation in which so many of the African American men on a particular campus were enrolled through a special admission program that the few Black men who were admitted and sought academic services through the usual service channels were initially denied such services and directed instead to the special program’s counselors. Another variation of this marginalization occurs for African American males majoring in fields in which they are greatly underrepresented, such as the STEMs – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Because of their low numbers, Black students in the STEM areas are sometimes ‘‘double marginalized’’ – ethnic majority students ignore them and other Black students regard them as ‘‘geeks.’’ Addressing this issue in this volume, Maton and Hrabowski examine ways to enhance the success of Black males in the sciences while Freeman and Huggans offer suggestions to help Black males in engineering. Such examples of marginalization can teach both student affairs and academic administrators to remind themselves continually of the diversity within the African American male population. They must condition themselves not to make any assumptions about these students based on either their appearance or the generalized characteristics of the students around them or in the community at large. African American men represent the most skewed percentage of male-to-female demographics among the various ethnic groups for which we keep records. Accordingly, it is incumbent on all of us in higher



education – faculty, staff, and administrators – to do all that we can to preserve this fragile population as best we can and be creative and innovative in devising ways to increase the numbers of Black college men who complete their degrees. What follows in this set of chapters will offer a full range of ideas how to make that goal a reality. One bit of good news is that this volume related to African American men in higher education is being published at a time when the attention focused on African American men is particularly high, due largely to the election of the first African American President. While a relatively small number of the students of any ethnicity across the country have the opportunity to attend both Columbia and Harvard as Barack Obama did, the positive feelings of hope that his election and presidency have created among many African Americans, and especially among African American men, offers a newfound belief among many students of color about their ability to achieve whatever they set their sights on. Let us capitalize on those beliefs and make some of them come true.

REFERENCES College Enrollment by Racial and Ethnic Group (Selected Years). (2008, August 29). The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. 14. Retrieved October 8, 2008 from http:// Cuyjet, M. J. (1997). African American men on college campuses: Their needs and their perceptions. In: M. J. Cuyjet (Ed.), Helping African American men succeed in college: New directions for student services (Vol. 80, pp. 5–16). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Cuyjet, M. J. (2006). African American college men: Twenty-first century issues and concerns. In: M. J. Cuyjet (Ed.), African American men in college (pp. 3–23). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Ellison, R. (1952). Invisible man. New York, NY: Random House. Foston, N. A. (2004). Campus dilemma: Coping with the acute male shortage. Ebony, 59(11), 128–131. Harper, S. R. (2004). The measure of a man: Conceptualizations of masculinity among highachieving African American male college students. Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 48(1), 89–107. Holzman, M. (2006). Public education and black male students: The 2006 state report card. Cambridge, MA: Schott Foundation for Public Education. Hughes, Z. (2003). The flip side: Why some sisters only date whites and ‘‘others’’. Ebony, 58(7), 55–56, 58. Jackson, J. F. L. (2003). Toward administrative diversity: An analysis of the African-American male educational pipeline. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 12(1), 43–60. Kimbrough, W. M., & Harper, S. R. (2006). African American men at historically Black colleges and universities: Different environments, similar challenges. In: M. J. Cuyjet (Ed.), African American men in college (pp. 189–209). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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King, A. E. O. (1999). African American females’ attitudes toward marriage: An exploratory study. Journal of Black Studies, 29(3), 416–437. Lee, C. C., & Bailey, D. F. (1999). Counseling African American male youth and men. In: C. C. Lee (Ed.), Multicultural issues in counseling: New approaches to diversity (2nd ed., pp. 123–154). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association. Majors, R., & Billson, J. M. (1992). Cool pose: The dilemmas of Black manhood in America. San Francisco, CA: New Lexington Press. Porter, M. M., & Bronzaft, A. L. (1995). Do the future plans of educated Black women include Black men? The Journal of Negro Education, 64(2), 162–170. Roderick, M. (2003). What’s happening to the boys? Early high school experiences and school outcomes among African American male adolescents in Chicago. Urban Education, 38(5), 538–607. Six-Year Graduation Rates of 2000–2001 Freshmen at Four-Year Institutions. (2008, August 29). The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. 14. Retrieved October 8, 2008 from http:// Strayhorn, T. L. (2008). Fittin’ in: Do diverse interactions with peers affect sense of belonging for Black men at predominantly White institutions? NASPA Journal, 45(4), 501–527.

A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF THE BARRIERS FACED BY BLACK AMERICAN MALES IN PURSUIT OF HIGHER EDUCATION Raymond Gavins OVERVIEW Black slavery and white racism in the South and the nation, de jure and de facto Jim Crow, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which outlawed separate schools, ‘‘massive resistance’’ to it (Klarman, 1994, p. 82), plus racial disparities in educational achievement since 1954, all frame this narrative of black males’ quest for higher education. Bondmen were denied literacy and black freemen rarely attended school, much less pursue advanced study, during the antebellum period. Union victory in the Civil War, abolition of slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment (1865), and Reconstruction marked the rise of not only Negro schools and colleges but also southern share cropping, called ‘‘the new slavery’’ (Du Bois, 1935, p. 715), and epidemic violence against blacks that imposed their disfranchisement and segregation, by laws and customs, until the 1960s. Thus African American males sought collegiate and professional training in a national milieu of white supremacy, which postulated black men’s mental and moral inferiority but ignored their widespread poverty, separation, and unequal opportunities. Confined in

Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 13–29 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006006




historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), they breached the colorline little by little at white institutions, thereby paving the way for Brown, the civil rights movement, and desegregation. In the second half of the 20th century, HBCUs and the majority-white institutions trained increasing numbers of black male graduates and professionals. By 1980 though, only some 11 percent of young black men had received 4 years of college compared to 25.5 percent of young white men (Jaynes & Williams, 1989). An ‘‘achievement gap’’ was evident and it persists today (Lee, 2002, p. 3), revealing the deep roots of race and class inequality in America. White racism, its legal and extralegal forms, and black aspirations and efforts underlay and continue to fuel black men’s drive for higher learning. Over time black men, and certainly women as well, faced racist structures, ideologies, and attitudes born of slavery; sub-citizenship, stereotypes, and terror, among other barriers, through a century of Jim Crow; and after Brown, ongoing discrimination, socioeconomic disadvantages, and ambiguous ‘‘affirmative action’’ policies (Jaynes & Williams, 1989, p. 376).

PRE-EMANCIPATION The dogma that Africans were heathen, inferior, endowed with brawn but no intelligence, and ordained to be ‘‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’’ justified their bondage (Evans, 1980, p. 18). Black slavery lasted 244 years in Britain’s North American colonies and the United States of America. Circa 1780–1834 northern states abolished it step by step, whereas southern states later seceded and defended it until final abolition in 1865. Slavery’s proponents defined the slave as a laborer and an outsider to civil society, a definition that the US Supreme Court affirmed in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) and thus fixed black men’s status. Scott and Harriet, his wife, were slaves who had accompanied their master, John Emerson, an army physician, to the free state of Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, also made free by a borderline in the Missouri Compromise (1820). The couple served Emerson through his reassignment to the South: St. Louis, Missouri, Louisiana, and back to St. Louis. Emerson died in 1843 and his widow hired out Scott, who was hoping to buy freedom for himself and Harriet. When she refused Scott’s offer of self-purchase in 1846, he sued her to manumit him and was represented by sympathetic white lawyers. In 1850 a Missouri court manumitted him, crediting his residence in free-soil areas. But Emerson’s widow appealed and the Missouri Supreme Court vacated that ruling in 1852. Scott resorted to the Federal courts as a ‘‘citizen of Missouri,’’ suing his then

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new owner in 1854 (Finkelman, 1997, p. 2). He lost at trial and filed an appeal, but the Supreme Court finally renounced his claim. In its majority opinion, the Chief Justice repealed the Missouri Compromise, as it deprived owners of their slave property ‘‘without due process of law’’ or ‘‘just compensation,’’ clearly violating the Fifth Amendment. Also, the Justice concluded that Scott ‘‘was not a citizen’’ and had no right to sue in Missouri’s courts. Nor were blacks viewed ‘‘as a part of the people’’ in the Declaration of Independence, Northwest Ordinance, and Constitution. Rather ‘‘they had for more than a century been regarded as beings of an inferior order y and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect’’ (Finkelman, p. 61). Such prejudice shadowed their distant past. Education was forbidden to slaves as a rule and largely disregarded for free blacks. Yet black self-help and white philanthropy encouraged many free blacks to learn. Discrimination by schools in the postslavery North made both black and philanthropic educational initiatives essential. Colonies early on disallowed teaching a slave to read or write. South Carolina in 1740 fined anybody who caused ‘‘slaves to be taught y the sum of one hundred pounds.’’ That code was passed after South Carolina’s Stono Rebellion of 1739, when 60–100 armed slaves killed 20–40 whites before the militia executed two-thirds of them (SC & VA Slave Codes, 1740; Wood, 1974). The state of Virginia in 1819 banned slave, free Negro, and mulatto gatherings, which often cover for ‘‘Reading or Writing.’’ Offenders would be arrested and whipped ‘‘not exceeding twenty lashes’’ (SC & VA Slave Codes, 1819). Georgia in 1848 punished offenders ‘‘by fine and whipping, or fine or whipping’’ (Slave Codes of GA, 1848). Whippings or worse punishment stoked fear among bondmen and their allies in the cause of literacy (Anderson, 1988; Berlin, Favreau, & Miller, 1998). Against the grain of forced ignorance, black males aspired to educate, emancipate, and elevate themselves and their people. They usually acquired basic instruction and more via self-teaching, white mentors, plantation missions, or Sunday and African schools maintained by black churches and fraternal orders like the Negro Masons. A sense of determination, discipline, and service helped to sustain their struggle. Buying his freedom from a Texas master in 1833, James Bradley relocated to Ohio where he accepted Christianity, studied at a Christian school, and authored a ‘‘short account of my life’’ in 1835, recalling that ‘‘the soul-destroyers tore me from my mother’s arms, somewhere in Africa’’ (Handler, 2002, pp. 43–44). Bradley was one of the rare African-born men (12) and women (3) in British North America and the Caribbean who became authors, writing or telling narratives



of their lives. All born in the 18th century, the bulk (8 men, 1 woman) lived in North American colonies and states (Handler, 2002). Instead of an autobiography, North Carolina clergyman and educator John Chavis wrote an ‘‘Essay on the Atonement’’ (1837), no copy of which is known to exist. Born free in Virginia, Chavis grew up wanting to be a Presbyterian minister. He was tutored by his white employer, an attorney, and mustered for the 5th Virginia Regiment in the Revolutionary War. In 1792 Chavis left to attend Princeton Seminary in New Jersey, but he never officially enrolled. Whether due to insufficient preparation or his race, he was ‘‘a private pupil’’ of the president and secluded from the students (Franklin, 1943, p. 170). However, by 1794 Chavis was taking ‘‘a regular course of Academical studies’’ at Liberty Academy (later Washington and Lee University), in Lexington, Virginia, graduated with honors in 1800, and began his ministry. He went to North Carolina in 1808 and, while preaching to white and black congregations, was permitted to operate a Raleigh school for white children (day) and free black children (night). When the literate slave Nat Turner and his rebels rose, killing 50–60 whites at Southampton, Virginia, in 1831, however, the state forbade Chavis to teach and preach. Dejected, he confided to a former white student: ‘‘Tell them if I am Black, I am [a] free born American and a revolutionary soldier, and therefore ought not to be thrown entirely out of the scale of notice’’ (Franklin, 1943, pp. 170–171). Though silenced, ‘‘he [Chavis] did prove that Negroes were capable of acquiring a college education and that this kind of education for them could be profitable’’ (Bullock, 1970, p. 12). Several seminal histories depict the context of exclusion suffered by the likes of Bradley and Chavis. Bullock (1970) views them ‘‘within a system officially committed to the policy that Negroes should not be educated at all.’’ Ergo, ‘‘the works they published through the antislavery press were used y as proof that Negroes could learn’’ (pp. 6, 15). Du Bois (1900) adds that they ‘‘of course met much color prejudice y very few colleges would admit them at all. Even today no Negro has ever been admitted to Princeton’’ (p. 28). Woodson (1915) contends that ‘‘colored persons, however well prepared, were generally debarred from colleges despite the protests of prominent men’’ (p. 11). Pifer (1973) declares that ‘‘black graduates of American colleges were few y and totaled only 28 by 1860’’ (p. 9). Du Bois reckons the numbers were 26 in 1860, and 40 (24 men) by 1865. Religious bodies and reform societies, especially ‘‘the colonizationists and abolitionists,’’ supported colleges. The former, who believed that blacks could not be integrated into American society, sponsored their ‘‘special training as catechists, teachers, preachers, and physicians’’ to be Christian

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leaders in Liberia (1821), a West African colony of the American Colonization Society (Woodson, p. 3). Where did black men finish college? Oberlin, an abolitionist institution in Ohio, perhaps trained two-thirds of them. It ‘‘was the great pioneer in the work of blotting out the color-line in colleges,’’ Du Bois noted, ‘‘and has more Negro graduates by far than any other northern college.’’ A small number finished at institutions where ‘‘they are rather endured than encouraged.’’ These probably included Maine’s Bowdoin College, from which John B. Russwurm earned a degree in 1826. Widely considered the first ‘‘Negro to graduate from an American college,’’ he coedited Freedom’s Journal in New York City before going to Liberia as an official of the Colonization Society (pp. 28–29, 32). White colleges’ tolerance of blacks expanded slowly. Implored by the Society, ‘‘Union College [of New York] conceded to accept a colored student on condition that he should swear that he had no Negro blood in his veins.’’ Similarly, the Berkshire Medical School (Massachusetts) admitted two black men; at their commencement ‘‘the graduating class thinned out y and one of the professors resigned because of their attendance’’ (Woodson, pp. 8–9, 11). All-black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (1854), Wilberforce University in Ohio (1856), and abolitionistfunded Berea College in Kentucky (1855) wanted black males to enroll. Neither school had a College Division until 1864, but each was a welcoming place, unlike ‘‘where the prejudices and unconscious bias of students and instructors y made life so intolerable’’ (Du Bois, p. 35). Statements from a sample of college-bred forerunners illuminate their shared aspiration and agency. In spite of bondage and caste, they embraced values of sharing, learning, hard work, and dignity. Their actions and reactions provide a foundation for interpreting how they met and how future generations would face roadblocks to higher instruction. One man stated: ‘‘I was born in Raleigh, N.C., and emancipated in Pennsylvania in 1830. I went to school and learned the three R’s, and afterward to Ohio and entered Oberlin, working at my trade of gunmaker, all through the course y I studied because I found knowledge was power; I also found that I was a born mechanic’’ (Du Bois, p. 50). He stressed personal freedom, purpose, and skill. Another spoke to mutuality. ‘‘I was born on a farm near Chillicothe, Ohio, November 15, 1825. At the age of four years I was taken with my parents to Jackson County, where there was a community of colored people.’’ Blacks came here ‘‘in order to educate their children, because they were debarred from attending the public schools with white children.’’ Besides, he ‘‘attended a select school’’ (p. 52). Parents saved this man: ‘‘I had the advantage of a Father who had a good education, for his time. He was



free and able to conduct his business in Augusta, GA, during slavery time.’’ This made a way to relocate: ‘‘A northern teacher offered to help me finish my education and my parents gave me my time’’ (p. 50). Family also was key for this man: ‘‘My father was set free prior to the war and purchased my mother. He died when I was eight, leaving a little home and $300 in gold,’’ vital resources for school (p. 48). Others tied schooling to southern defeat and black liberation. ‘‘I was born a slave and taken North to an orphanage by Quakers after the war, both my parents being dead,’’ a freedman recalled. ‘‘Afterward I was sent to New Jersey, and then worked on a Pennsylvania farm until I went to Lincoln.’’ Freedom furnished ‘‘me what little school training I had,’’ an ex-slave recollected. ‘‘In my twentieth year I taught a five months’ district school, with the proceeds of which I began a course of study at Wilberforce University’’ (pp. 48, 51). Facing segregation, black men would draw inspiration from the forerunners’ precepts and examples on education.

AGE OF SEGREGATION Also known as Jim Crow, a pre-Civil War slave moniker, segregation was deep-rooted in slavery traditions and codes separating whites and blacks, North and South. Whites isolated the former slaves in the aftermath of northern abolition, and southern cities like Richmond, Virginia, separated slaves and free blacks in ‘‘nigger’’ housing. Reconstruction (1865–1877) waved in Black Codes restricting black labor; share cropping, in which landlords virtually enslaved tenants; the Fourteenth (1868) and Fifteenth (1870) amendments promising citizenship and suffrage to the freed people; the advent of black schools and colleges; terrorism by ex-Confederates like the Ku Klux Klan, destroying an infant southern biracial democracy; and the Federal retreat from racial justice nationally. The ensuing Nadir (1877–1901) saw Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Louisiana case in which the Supreme Court authorized ‘‘separate but equal’’ (Logan, 1965, p. 92) in train cars and, indeed, for all public accommodations; many blacks lynched annually; bloody defeats of Populist-Republican alliances; and black voter purges in Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Louisiana by 1898. The same year numerous blacks died in the Wilmington, North Carolina, riot; the state disfranchised black voters in 1900. It is estimated that 2,291 blacks, 236 of them female, finished college from 1866 to 1899; 350 finished white colleges. A college was ‘‘any institution y which had a course amounting to at least one year in addition to the course of the ordinary New England high school’’ (Du Bois, p. 10). A minuscule

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group in a black population of 8.83 million and 11.6 percent of the national population at the dawn of the 20th century, they were emblematic of the fears, hopes, and strides of a people being driven ‘‘backward toward slavery’’ (Du Bois, 1935, p. 708). Ex-slaves Booker T. Washington and Anna J. Cooper and northerners such as W. E. B. Du Bois were among them. Confronting a common color-line, they differed on how the race should accommodate or contest it and whether pursuing industrial or liberal arts curricula, someday, would overcome stumbling blocks to full freedom. Blacks grappled with those challenges during Jim Crow and beyond. Meantime, by statutes in the South and traditions in the North, segregation became ‘‘the invariable rule’’ (Woodward, 1971, p. 237). For example, Virginia decreed that a ‘‘white person’’ was one who ‘‘has no trace whatever of any blood other than Caucasian’’; a ‘‘colored person’’ was anyone ‘‘in whom there is ascertainable any Negro blood.’’ By 1901 Alabama enacted a poll tax, grandfather clause, and literacy and property tests to disfranchise blacks. Similar measures came in the rest of the southern states between 1902 and 1915, forging a solid white South that would last to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Jim Crow statutes multiplied, specially segregating marriage, schooling, and employment. Common carriers, cemeteries, housing, hospitals, and prisons, the latter habitually leasing their black prisoners to private contractors, were segregated too (Murray, 1951; Cohen, 1991). This bred bigotry and physical brutality. Southern and midWestern mobs lynched a reported 3,220 blacks, as opposed to 723 whites, from 1880 to 1930 alone. Demeaning black images proliferated in white media and blacks remained largely poor, exploited in share cropping and excluded from all but low-wage industrial work. College-bound black men were deeply aware of the threats of statutory and violent segregation. If the Nadir was ‘‘the lowest point in the quest for equal rights’’ and tested blacks’ resolve to seek higher education, their loyalty in World War I and resilience in the Red Summer of 1919, marking 25 race riots, vitalized their Second Crusade for Schools (1900–1935). Black educators had espoused self-help and Federal aid, while making financial appeals to northern industrialists, merchants, and missionaries. New England classical curricula (reading, writing, and arithmetic) had proved effective in educating blacks, but it was the ‘‘Hampton-Tuskegee Idea’’ that attracted abundant philanthropic support. Emulating his Yankee mentor, Samuel C. Armstrong, who had founded Hampton as a vocational school, Booker T. Washington established Tuskegee Institute in the Alabama Black Belt. To students and public audiences, Washington advocated industrial arts, thrift, and Christian character to elevate the race. Rather than civil rights, his emphasis



was on building black pride, solidarity, and economic leverage. His program soon won backing from northern industrialists such as steelmaker Andrew Carnegie, who gave ‘‘Tuskegee its first major endowment in 1903’’ (Anderson, 1988, pp. 33, 91). Vocational programs became commonplace in the nation’s 16 black land-grant colleges, 7 state normal schools, county training schools, and in many of the ‘‘1,588 of college grade’’ that were private (Jones, 1916, p. 9). So-called separate but equal shaped American education; it was de facto or nonlegal in the North and West, where many ethnic immigrants, minorities, and whites joined in excluding blacks. Blacks still demanded equal schools. Their valiant spokesman was the scholar Du Bois, who strongly criticized Washington’s political accommodation to Jim Crow and his trade-school credo. Suffrage, classical instruction, and liberal education for youth must be the priorities, said Du Bois. ‘‘He advocates commonschool and industrial-training; but neither the Negro common-schools, nor Tuskegee itself, could remain open a day were it not for teachers trained in Negro colleges, or trained by their graduates.’’ Classical precollege curricula and liberal arts colleges would be necessary to prepare a ‘‘Talented Tenth,’’ the emerging leaders of the black community (Du Bois, 1903, pp. 41, 72). Nonetheless, in the course of the Washington–Du Bois controversy, blacks combined the two approaches in order to fund and maintain normal schools and colleges. Both were needed to forge educational opportunity. Equalizing educational opportunity was the cutting edge of blacks’ progress and push for justice. Demands for equality fueled the agenda of black and interracial organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), of which Du Bois was a cofounder. Notably, by 1930 four-fifths of black males and females age 10 and older were literate, and black–white difference in schooling was decreasing. For median years of school in 1940, young black men and women had 6.5 and 7.5 years, respectively, compared to 10.5 and 10.9 years for young white men and women, respectively (Jaynes & Williams, 1989). Moreover, from 1901 to 1936, an aggregate 38,460 blacks, about 63 percent of them men, earned college and postcollege degrees (Johnson, 1938). Though those individuals formed a tiny minority in the black population of 11.8 million, or 9.7 percent of Americans, their collective accomplishment was significant. Despite impediments of ‘‘ostracism and persecution – y of arbitrariness, of unfairness, and of injustice,’’ they climbed uphill, striving to be full citizens (Johnson, 1943, p. xvii). Johnson (1938), looking at 7,663 of those individuals, pointed out that ‘‘4,047, or 52.8 percent, are teaching in elementary and high schools, 259 are college teachers and 423 are schools principals’’ (p. 95). Teacher unions,

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extending back to Reconstruction, were vehicles for affirming and guiding black youths, enabling teachers to challenge African Americans’ alleged inferiority. Paralleling the National Education Association (NEA), they organized the American Teachers’ Organization (ATO) in 1939 as well as an NEA–ATO coalition to foster school equalization and ending ‘‘unequal payment for white and Negro teachers’’ (Johnson, 1943). The coalition’s 1947 resolution proposed NEA membership for Negro teachers by merging the two organizations, but no action followed. The Brown decision renewed the idea of merger, which happened in 1964. Teachers and families were core to helping black males cope with adversity and attend college. That supportive role is frequently unrecognized in the historical literature on Jim Crow, but appreciated in African American oral interviews. Hundreds of oral interviews are archived in the ‘‘Behind the Veil’’ collection at Duke University’s Special Collections Library, three of which are described here. Arthur Searles’ interview speaks to endemic white domination and the educational plight of black Georgians, notably in rural areas, between the 1920s and the 1940s. An Albany native, Searles’ mother had been a teacher and she taught him early to read. Upon completing high school, he could only go to a normal school (which was a precursor of Albany State College) for two years. ‘‘I couldn’t get a job teaching or nothing like that. So I was going around here. My father was already dead, and I wanted to be doing some sort of work,’’ he says. He found it in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public works program. ‘‘So they put me in the education department to teach the young men how to read and write.’’ Noting that Searles ‘‘had two years of college’’ and hoped to graduate, his supervisor recommended him to a dozen black colleges. ‘‘Now there was no black state-supported institution in Georgia,’’ Searles reports. Tennessee State (in Nashville) admitted him as a three-year ‘‘work student’’ on 12-course hours. But he was cleared for a full 18 hours if he kept a B average. Searles relates: ‘‘I said my mother’s back in Albany and I want to get on out so I can help my mother out y So they agreed to that. And I made the A’s and B’s. I finished Tennessee State in ’38.’’ He thrived as a mentee of the president, who ‘‘was crazy about me’’; the dean of the college, who ‘‘said I was one of the best students he’d ever taught in journalism’’; and a history teacher who ‘‘was very instrumental in molding my career.’’ Searles went back home, there becoming a schoolteacher, army sergeant, and community leader. He was grateful that ‘‘I met so many people who assisted me along the way’’ (Chafe, Gavins, & Korstad, 2001, pp. 190–196). Retired minister and teacher David Matthews benefited from people’s assistance as well. He grew up in a humble and close-knit community near



Indianola, Mississippi, where neighbors understood that ‘‘freedom is preserved by eternal vigilance.’’ Church was the center of their lives amid destitution and white supremacy, so ‘‘we had to share.’’ Sharing food, clothing, and labor, they determined to educate their children, oftentimes raising money to retain teachers and extend the four-month term. ‘‘My mother and father were Christians and they were laborers. We were sharecroppers,’’ Matthews recounts. He and his brother eventually attended high school, thanks to ‘‘one retired teacher’s husband’’ who gave them English, mathematics, and other books; a professor in the neighborhood who would tutor them; and his parents who sacrificed to buy a car since school was eight miles away. Matthews was drafted into the army in the eleventh grade, but his brother finished high school and college and worked as a teacher and principal in their county. ‘‘I came out of service and went to Morehouse [College] and graduated y in 1950,’’ he remembers. Matthews returned to Indianola afterward. Thanks to teachers and parents, he and his brother persevered. They had a mother and father who ‘‘loved us. They were uneducated but they gave us some fundamental moral principles that will stand today’’ (pp. 107–115). Thomas Christopher Columbus Chatmon experienced similar hardship in Coffee County, Georgia. The oldest of eight children of sharecroppers, Chatmon quit school to help support the family after his mother died in 1936. Local black schools did not go beyond the seventh grade, but he desired to attend high school and college. ‘‘My parents were both uneducated, but they always wanted their children to get an education. My mother didn’t hesitate to tell y white people that, when they would come around and want us to go to work on the farm during school hours,’’ he recollects. A turning point was the year he planned to reenter school; he and a sister went with their father ‘‘to settle up,’’ but the boss cheated him. ‘‘How could this man take all our money y my father had six other children down there, raggedy, no money, winter was coming.’’ His father cried. ‘‘I told him, Papa, don’t worry about it. I’ll make it. I’ll go back to school. I’ll make it somehow.’’’ Chatmon walked twelve miles to Ocilla, aided the family with money from odd jobs, finished high school, and matriculated at Morehouse. A working student for two years, Chatmon was drafted in 1943. ‘‘And when I came out I was on the G.I. Bill,’’ which allowed him to graduate (pp. 223–227). He, as did Searles and Matthews, returned to his community. Their stories reveal race and class hurdles for black men seeking higher education. Jim Crow reigned. Roughly 90 percent of blacks were impoverished and undereducated in 1940. ‘‘Only 12 percent of blacks aged 25–29 had

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completed high school; less than 2 percent could claim a college degree’’ (Bowen & Bok, 1998, p. 1). Racism, which fed conflict and riots in World War II and the postwar years, compelled the NAACP and others to attack segregation in military and civilian life. Their campaigns did much to create the President’s Committee on Civil Rights, his 1948 order to desegregate the armed forces, and national shame over the ‘‘Negro problem’’ in the Cold War against communism (Myrdal, 1944, p. xli). Then, as NAACP special counsel, New York Federal Judge Robert L. Carter was a leading figure in suits challenging the Plessy ‘‘separate but equal’’ doctrine. One of eight children of Florida migrants to Newark, New Jersey, Carter had come of age in ‘‘one of the worst black slums in the country,’’ where a teacher ‘‘ridiculed my aspirations for a college education.’’ But he belied her perception, earned ‘‘a work scholarship’’ at Lincoln (in Pennsylvania), and excelled. Howard Law School granted him partial tuition and he worked as a waiter. He wrote the brief and did the oral argument for McLaurin v. Oklahoma (1950), involving a black doctoral student accepted to the state university in 1949 but required to sit outside of classrooms. This denied ‘‘equal protection,’’ Carter held; agreeing, the Supreme Court ‘‘ordered the state-imposed restrictions on [Charles] McLaurin lifted.’’ Equal protection of the law was the staff’s main contention in the school cases that led to the Brown decision, which annulled Plessy and mandated desegregation (Carter, 2005, pp. 6, 11, 20, 24, 84, 91–92).

BEYOND BROWN Brown has been pivotal in scholarly discourse on contemporary racial and social justice. Woodward saw it as the harbinger of a Second Reconstruction that attacked ‘‘two areas in which the First y made no serious effort: segregation in the armed services and in the public schools’’ (1965; 1974, p. 10). Enlarging the Reconstruction analogy, Marable observes that Brown ended ‘‘the legal war of attrition between the NAACP and the defenders of racial inequality,’’ even as it inspired the civil rights, Black Power, women’s, and peace movements (2007, p. 38). It marked ‘‘a critical shift in the legal status of black Americans’’ (Allen & Farley, 1986, p. 278). A crucial debate today is on how to define and assess changes created by Brown, Federal legislation, and progressive causes. By its decree, the Court ‘‘provided blacks with ‘moral support’’ and buoyed nonviolent protest against Jim Crow (Klarman, 2005, p. 369). But protest also ignited the white ‘‘backlash against Brown,’’ which brought ‘‘massive resistance’’ laws to control pupil



placement, destroy the NAACP, and close schools, inciting harassment and violence (Klarman, 1994, p. 82). Veteran James Meredith’s admission to and appearance at the University of Mississippi in 1962 sparked a race riot, killing two and injuring hundreds. State and local government intransigence and token desegregation easily abetted white colleges and universities’ slow compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI, which barred race and sex discrimination in Federally funded programs (Williams, 1997). Equitable change for blacks, including black male access to higher education, would depend critically on implementing nondiscrimination and inclusion. It is from this perspective that Brown draws strong criticism. Accordingly, in a 50-year appraisal, eight scholars call attention to ‘‘the decision’s limited impact and the persistence of segregation in the nation’s housing and schools.’’ They relate Brown’s limits to nonenforcement, ‘‘segregationist violence,’’ and integration policies that ‘‘served the needs of the state more than those of African Americans’’ (Brown v. Board of Education: Fifty Years After, 2004, pp. 16, 20). As debate continues on Brown’s symbolic and substantive contribution to unmaking Jim Crow, we must ask: how did black men aspiring to higher education fare in the fifty years after? Fare in the Vietnam War–based rollback on the cost of the ‘‘Great Society’’ (Murray, 1984, p. 8)? Researchers’ data are selective, vary on gender specifics, and are invariably contested, so this is a broad portrait. Black males tended to represent trends for all black high school graduates ages 18–24 and eligible for college. They gained ground circa 1965–1976 due to available financial aid; ‘‘affirmative action’’ in admissions and jobs; reduction in black poverty, and growth of the black middle class. They lost ground as education and job training contracted, feeding ‘‘a problem of joblessness for young black men that y reached catastrophic proportions’’ (Wilson, 1987, p. 43). Their advance can be evaluated from the baseline of 1940. For ‘‘blacks lagged far behind whites in 1940, and the gap has not been closed’’ (Jaynes & Williams, 1989, p. 339). In 1960, the year in which four North Carolina A&T State University male students launched the Greensboro sit-ins, a little more than five percent of blacks had finished college. In the 1960s HBCUs ‘‘enrolled about one third of the approximately 434,000 black students in higher education’’ (p. 177). During the 1970s increasing numbers of black students attended majority-white private and public colleges and universities. Black males also became conspicuous on white campuses as athletes. Numerous black students, feeling culturally isolated, were active in the development of Black Studies Programs. ‘‘In 1976, the percentage of all high school graduates y who were enrolled in college was about the same for

Historical Overview of the Barriers Faced by Black American Males


blacks, Latinos, and whites – 33 percent’’ (Carnoy, 1994, p. 66). The number of black college graduates rose steadily from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, though the percentage graduating from HBCUs decreased. The percentage of students at HBCUs declined from 62 percent in 1970 to 38 percent in 1980, when an approximate 12 percent of young black women and 11 percent of black men completed four years of college, compared to 22 percent of young white women and 25.5 percent of white men (Jaynes & Williams, 1989, p. 339). ‘‘The most disturbing statistic is the decline in the absolute number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to blacks in the 1980s,’’ writes Carnoy. The proportion of blacks and Latinos completing four-year colleges was 15–16 percent in the 1980s, compared to 29–30 percent for whites (p. 66). Post-1980 developments also complicated the existing racial gap in college entrance and graduation. And researchers examine various aspects of the gap. Allen and Farley (1986) notice ‘‘a reverse pattern’’ in college completions. ‘‘The black–white difference y increased from 5% in 1940 to 12% in 1981. Rates of college enrollment have gone up for some blacks, but even more rapidly among whites.’’ They note that ‘‘the declining role of traditionally black colleges over the 40-year period partly explains this pattern,’’ as do black students’ ‘‘higher rates of attrition than their white peers – or than black peers on black campuses’’(p. 291). Assessing ‘‘causes of the decline in college enrollment among blacks,’’ Jaynes and Williams (1989) cite these: lacunae in the data; the economic status of blacks relative to other groups; changing structure of financial aid; outcomes of school, business, and military competition to recruit college-age black youth; and ‘‘differences in achievement.’’ They also report ‘‘a decline y in the number of blacks taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test, a principal determinant of black college attendance’’ (pp. 340–342). Carnoy (1994) demonstrates that overall college enrollments ‘‘fell in the late 1970s. But white enrollment rates recovered in the 1980s and black rates did not.’’ Lower-class blacks were less likely to attend college and, if enrolled, more likely not to finish. He critiques two defining views of the disparity in public opinion. The first view depicts a ‘‘second wave’’ of black youths who eschew going to college because most of them ‘‘(especially black males) are not motivated or – in the latest rework of the genetic inferiority argument – not able to do well in school.’’ Unlike 1960s black student cohorts, they are ‘‘suspended in a debilitating world of poverty, malnutrition, structureless adult-child relations, and violence.’’ This is the ‘‘‘individual responsibility’ view.’’ The second view depicts society as extremely racist ‘‘(again, especially [for] African-American men)’’ and white institutions as unwelcoming to blacks. ‘‘I call this the ‘pervasive racism’ view.’’ The first ignores striking



gains that blacks demonstrated on national tests from 1975 to 1988. ‘‘In 1988, black 17-year-olds scored 274 on the reading test, having cut the reading achievement gap between them and white pupils by more than half.’’ Facts that ‘‘unfriendly white campuses were almost certainly not enough to keep blacks from enrolling’’ undermine the second view. Carnoy believes the main barrier for blacks (males in particular) ‘‘was dramatically changed government policies’’ that reduced ‘‘funding for financial aid y at a time of increasing poverty for minority families’’ (pp. 66–67, 68). Focusing specifically on black men, Davis (1994) analyzes ‘‘the continuing gap between black and white males at educational levels beyond high school.’’ Comparing father–son years of schooling among blacks and whites, he indicates that ‘‘downward intergenerational mobility was far greater for black males than for white males.’’ So, ‘‘if the gap between black fathers and sons closes before the gap between blacks and whites, it could mean continued social and economic inequities between the races.’’ Davis basically agrees that ‘‘the black middle class has done very well educationally; therefore, the real problem of lack of educational advancement is primarily confined to the black population’s large lower class.’’ Its predicament ‘‘is influenced by several childhood family and community characteristics,’’ like chronic unemployment, ‘‘high levels of residential segregation,’’ and budget cuts in ‘‘programs that provided educational funding for the disadvantaged.’’ Davis concludes ‘‘all those involved in making political and social policy need to recognize that barriers to educational attainment at the postsecondary level for black males continue to exist’’ (pp. 138, 148–150). Those barriers, of which the black–white gap in college graduation is only one result, are embedded in American history, even as their continuities interface the causes, complexities, and consequences of the Second Reconstruction. Woodward (1965) hailed its repeal of ‘‘legal claim of white monopoly in schools and other civil institutions,’’ but predicted that ‘‘it is likely to suffer setbacks and backlashes in the North and sure to meet new resistance in the South’’ (pp. 127, 133). Backlash definitely stalled it. Its supporters ‘‘underestimated y the powerful, structural weight of racism that over centuries had permeated America’s entire criminal justice system, the police and courts, and the upper tiers of institutional and corporate power,’’ said Marable (2007), adding that it meant ‘‘devastating declines of black enrollments in universities and professional schools’’ (pp. 225, 245). That post-Brown story is linked to the long dure´e of obstacles to black education from slavery and Jim Crow depicted in the ‘‘Pre-Emancipation’’ and ‘‘Age of Segregation’’ sections. Slavery ‘‘was in itself the ultimate segregator’’ and organic to Jim Crow (Scott, 1984, p. 425). Its ‘‘institutions,

Historical Overview of the Barriers Faced by Black American Males


modes of thought, attitudes, and practices’’ (p. 427) did not survive emancipation intact but enough to anchor segregation, share cropping, race, and class poverty. Johnson (1943) contended that ‘‘racialism, beginning with the introduction of slavery, has traced a broad pattern across the history of the countryy and only in such enactments as the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments have legislators sought y to ensure equality of opportunity in the schools, industries, or civil life’’ (p. 324). Racialism bowed to Brown but resisted its promise of integration, for instance, by delaying and then resisting affirmative action efforts, thus continuing the presence of barriers limiting black male access to higher education.

REFERENCES Allen, W. R., & Farley, R. (1986). The shifting social and economic tides of black America, 1950–1980. Annual Review of Sociology, 12, 277–306. Anderson, J. D. (1988). The education of blacks in the south, 1860–1935. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. Berlin, I., Favreau, M., & Miller, S. F. (Eds). (1998). Remembering slavery: African Americans talk about their personal experiences of slavery and emancipation. New York, NY: New Press. Bowen, W. G., & Bok, D. (1998). The shape of the river: Long-term consequences of considering race in college and university admissions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Brown v. Board of Education: Fifty years after. (2004). Journal of American History, 91(1), 16–68. Bullock, H. A. (1970). A history of Negro education in the south from 1619 to the present. New York, NY: Praeger Publishers. Carnoy, M. (1994). Why aren’t more African Americans going to college? The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 6, 66–69. Carter, R. L. (2005). A matter of law: A memoir of struggle in the cause of equal rights. New York, NY: New Press. Chafe, W. H., Gavins, R., & Korstad, R. (Eds). (2001). Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans tell about life in the segregated south. New York, NY: New Press. Cohen, W. (1991). At freedom’s edge: Black mobility and the southern white quest for racial control, 1861–1915. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press. Davis, T. J., Jr. (1994). The educational attainment and intergenerational mobility of black males: The 1970s and 1980s. The Urban Review, 26(2), 137–147. Du Bois, W. E. B. (Ed.) (1900). The college-bred Negro. Studies of the Negro problems (No. 5). Atlanta, GA: Atlanta University Press. Du Bois, W. E. B. (1903). In: H. L. Gates Jr. & T. H. Oliver (Eds), The souls of black folk: Authoritative text, contexts, criticism. New York, NY: W. W. Norton. Du Bois, W. E. B. (1935). In: August Meier (Ed.), Black reconstruction in America, 1860–1880. New York, NY: Atheneum. Evans, W. M. (1980). From the land of Canaan to the land of Guinea: The strange Odyssey of the Sons of Ham. American Historical Review, 85(1), 14–43.



Finkelman, P. (1997). Dred Scott v. Sandford: A brief history with documents. Boston, MA: Bedford Books. Franklin, J. H. (1943). The free Negro in North Carolina 1790–1860. New York, NY: W. W. Norton. Handler, J. S. (2002). Survivors of the Middle Passage: Life histories of enslaved Africans in British America. Slavery & Abolition, 23(1), 25–56. Jaynes, G. D., & Williams, R. M., Jr.. (1989). A common destiny: Blacks and American society. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Johnson, C. S. (1938). The Negro college graduate. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. Johnson, C. S. (1943). Patterns of Negro segregation. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers. Jones, T. J. (Dir.). (1916). Negro education: A study of the private and higher schools for colored people in the United States. US Bureau of Education Bulletin No. 38, Vol. I. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC. Klarman, M. J. (1994). How Brown changed race relations: The backlash thesis. Journal of American History, 81(1), 81–118. Klarman, M. J. (2005). From Jim Crow to civil rights: The Supreme Court and the struggle for racial equality. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Lee, J. (2002). Racial and ethnic achievement gap trends: Reversing the progress toward equity. Educational Researcher, 31(1), 3–12. Logan, R. W. (1965). The betrayal of the Negro from Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson. New York, NY: Collier Books. Marable, M. (2007). Race, reform, and rebellion: The second reconstruction in black America, 1945–2006 (3rd ed.). Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. Murray, C. (1984). Losing ground: American social policy, 1950–1980. New York: Basic Books. Murray, P. (Comp. & Ed.) (1951). States’ laws on race and color: Studies in the legal history of the south. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. Myrdal, G. (1944). An American dilemma: The Negro problem and modern democracy. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers. Pifer, A. (1973). The higher education of blacks in the United States. New York, NY: Carnegie Corporation. Scott, J. A. (1984). Segregation: A fundamental aspect of southern race relations, 1800–1860. Journal of the Early Republic, 4(4), 421–441. Slave Codes of the State of Georgia. (1848). Retrieved December 29, 2008, from http:// South Carolina & Virginia Slave Codes. (1740, 1819). Retrieved December 29, 2008, from Williams, J. B. (1997). Race discrimination in public higher education: Interpreting federal civil rights enforcement, 1964–1996. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. Wilson, W. J. (1987). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Wood, P. H. (1974). Black majority: Negroes in colonial South Carolina from1670 through the Stono Rebellion. New York, NY: W. W. Norton. Woodson, C. G. (1915). The education of the Negro prior to 1861: A history of the education of the colored people of the United States from the beginning of slavery to the civil war. New York, NY: G. P. Putnam.

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Woodward, C. V. (1965). From the first reconstruction to the second. Harper’s Magazine, 230(1), 127–133. Woodward, C. V. (1971). American counterpoint: Slavery and racism in the North–South dialogue. Boston, MA: Little, Brown. Woodward, C. V. (1974). The strange career of Jim Crow (3rd rev. ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

‘‘LEARNERS AND TEACHERS OF MEN’’: A HISTORICAL VIEW OF THE PARTICIPATION AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF BLACK AMERICAN MALES IN HIGHER EDUCATION Stephanie Y. Evans At what point do you start to realize that life without knowledge is death in disguise? – ‘‘K O S Determination,’’ Black Star, Mos Def and Talib Kweli (1998)

In 1865, Richard T. Greener of Baltimore enrolled in Harvard College. His main interests were metaphysics, literature, Greek and Latin, and art. There, he distinguished himself in his sophomore year by winning the Bowdoin Prize for elocution. He won another prize in his senior year for the essay, ‘‘The Best way of Crushing the Agitator is to Give him his Grievance,’’ which, according to the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, ‘‘criticized the system of land tenure in Ireland’’ (Sollers, Titcomb, & Underwood, 1993, p. 39). Greener graduated from Harvard College in 1870 – the first Black man to do so – and in 1876, earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina. He vigorously pursued and disseminated knowledge as

Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 31–65 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006007




a teacher at the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia, principal of Sumner High School in Washington, DC, associate editor of the New National Era, and Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy at the University of South Carolina (before the resegregation of that institution in 1877). Greener was a member of the Supreme Court of South Carolina and the DC bar, Dean of the Howard University Law Department (1878), and associate editor of the National Encyclopedia of American Biography. He publicly debated Frederick Douglass in 1879, arguing that Blacks abused in the South should move west and he was a radical Republican who championed causes for President Grant. In his later career, the US government appointed Greener as consul in foreign affairs and he dealt with issues in Ireland, India, China, Russia, Britain, and Japan (Sollers et al., 1993, p. 39). Not every Black man educated in the United States has enjoyed such an illustrious career. However, multitudes of unrecognized Black American men like Greener have sought access to a college education and have used their education to teach those with the same desire for education. This chapter highlights significant Black male scholars (students, faculty, administrators, and activists) who have contributed to educational and intellectual advancement in the United States. As the Black American Males in Higher Education collection demonstrates, being Black and male means facing overwhelming challenges to educational opportunity. Yet, as this chapter presents, there is a rich but hidden history of participation by African American men in colleges and universities dating back to the early nineteenth century. There are three ‘‘waves’’ of educational attainment that comprise parts of this essay: The First Wave of Educational Attainment – Antebellum Aspirations; Second Wave of Attainment – The Flow of Reconstruction and Ebb of Jim Crow; The Third Wave – Measuring Attainment since the Early Twentieth Century. In each section, one educational researcher who contributed to African American educational scholarship is highlighted. Though we certainly know the contributions of a few educators, namely Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois, there is a deep, broad, and vastly complex story of the relationship between Black men and academic institutions. Founding fathers of Black American male collegians such as Carter G. Woodson, Charles Johnson, Alaine Locke, Edward Bouchet, and Horace Mann Bond should be highlighted and their contributions more widely known. Just as importantly, this chapter considers research by leading historic Black men scholars to offer a regional and statistical record as a detailed guide to the specific numbers of Black men students in early

Historical View of the Participation and Contributions of Black American Males 33

eras of higher education. This quantitative analysis offers detailed numbers and underlying historical patterns to help explain current trends and the numerical perspective allows contemporary scholars to contextualize individual stories. The survey approach also provides much-needed corrective geographical analyses useful to future researchers and policy makers. Tracking African American men collegians offers certain methodological challenges. Primarily, we must acknowledge the contribution of those, like Martin Delaney, Arthur Schomburg, or Malcolm X who had limited or no formal university training, but significantly contributed to our understanding of what it means to be ‘‘educated’’ or ‘‘intellectual.’’ Then there are those who attended college, like Langston Hughes at Columbia University (before graduating from Lincoln University), Jean Toomer at several universities (including University of Wisconsin, Chicago, and New York University), T. Thomas Fortune at Howard University, or Claude McKay at Tuskegee or Kansas State College, who did not always attain degrees, but who nonetheless became great public intellectuals (Gates & McKay, 1997, pp. 981, 1087, 1251; Alexander, 2008). Others, like Arthur Schomburg, James Baldwin, or John Henrick Clark earned high honorary degrees or taught at elite institutions despite not having the doctorate (Gates & McKay, 1997, pp. 937, 1650; Conyers, 2003, pp. 169–170). Significantly, there are also Black men who identify as African or West Indian who complicate the scope of this research because ‘‘Black American’’ men are part of the larger Diaspora and there are subtle but important distinctions between ethnic experiences of African Americans in the United States higher education (Du Bois, 1900, p. 32; Rimer & Arenson, 2004). Thus, investigators of African American men’s higher education history must acknowledge the broad variations of Black men’s collegiate experiences and the wide differences in university relationships in America and abroad. These challenges duly noted, it is imperative that contemporary educators know, claim, and employ the long and impressive history of formally educated Black American men. In a commencement speech marking the 20th anniversary of his graduation from Fisk University, Dr. Du Bois hailed Galileo Galilei as ‘‘a learner and teacher of men.’’ He argued that surrender to unchecked demand for industrial education at the expense of critical studies in liberal arts and sciences would result in mental enslavement of the Black race in a magnitude that mirrored physical enslavement. He made clear that he valued vocational training, but Du Bois admonished his listeners to heed Galileo’s teachings and to honor the mission of university education by rededicating themselves to an



intense pursuit for meaning of the universe. Despite harrowing trials of epic proportions, Black American men have embodied Du Bois’ call to learn and teach (Du Bois, 1908, reprint 2001, p. 46).

THE FIRST WAVE OF EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT: ANTEBELLUM ASPIRATIONS Researcher Highlight: Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950) BA/MA: Berea College; University of Chicago (1908) PhD: Harvard (1912) Educational Research: The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (1915) Intellectual Biography: Pero Dagbovie, The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene (2008) In The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (1915), Carter G. Woodson outlined the ebb and flow of educational opportunities for African Americans during the colonization, enslavement, and nation building of the antebellum period. He identified four eras of African American education between 1619 and the Civil War. From 1619 to 1750, the solidification of race-based enslavement narrowed opportunity, while from 1750 to 1800, the air of freedom exuded by American revolutionaries brought a relative loosening of educational restrictions. From 1800 to the mid-1830s, African Americans aspiring to be educated experienced a backlash due to the Haitian Revolution, the subsequent revolts spurred and led by Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner, and reaction to David Walker’s 1929 Appeal, in Four Articles. The period from the 1830s to 1860, with the tensions present in the onset of an internal national war, was an era of intensified struggle for freedom (Woodson, 1915). Though there were numerous formal and informal schools for Africans in America, the pre-Civil War era was largely barren of educational opportunity. Woodson’s description of the antebellum period adeptly contextualized the arduous rise of the select few African American men and women who strove for education in the shadow of American slavery. While Whites who attended college during the seventeenth century sought power over others, Black collegians during the nineteenth century sought power over themselves. Heather Williams’ Self Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom (2005) painstakingly details the extent to

Historical View of the Participation and Contributions of Black American Males 35

which Black people endured hardship to educate themselves in the face of standardized violence and institutionalized domestic terrorism. Although a college education was scarce for Whites, it was essentially nonexistent for Blacks (Woodson, 1915, p. 2–12; Williams, 2005). Most formal African American education began with Sabbath schools. Early Quaker and Catholic denominations advanced educational opportunity for Black people in the South. Statewide education policies varied greatly. For example, Virginia banned education for those who did not adhere to the premise of White supremacy, whereas in North Carolina, Quakers were allowed to develop schools; the number of schools developed for Blacks in those states reflected this difference. The disparate legacy of educational opportunity in the South became clearer as states like North Carolina and Georgia easily outpaced more restrictive states like Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama (Woodson, 1915, pp. 28, 72, 112–123). A few Black men began attending college in the early 1800s. John Chavis is reported to be the first African American to graduate from college, having completed his studies in 1799 from Washington and Lee University in Virginia (formerly Washington Academy). However, due to the lack of available documentation for Chavis, Alexander Lucius Twilight’s 1823 graduation from Middlebury College in Vermont is commonly recognized as the first college degree granted to an African American. In 1804, Lemuel Haynes, a pastor and American Revolutionary War veteran, was awarded an honorary MA degree from Middlebury College during its second commencement, but neither the degree nor the honor indicated Blacks’ regular access to college attendance. Others, among the first to be awarded degrees were Edward Jones, who earned a BA from Amherst College in Massachusetts (1826), and John Brown Russwurm, a graduate of Bowdoin College in Maine (also in 1826) who became editor of the influential New York abolitionist paper Freedom’s Journal. It is interesting to note that both Jones (Sierra Leone) and Russwurm (Liberia) moved to Africa to found schools and conduct administrative education work on the Continent (Du Bois & Dill, 1910, pp. 47, 52). As has been widely recorded, Oberlin College in Ohio was a beacon of light for antebellum Black scholars, but in a geographically limited sense: the majority of students came from the North or Midwest (Lawson & Merrill, 1983, pp. 142–155). Migration patterns suggest that, before 1850, freedmen from the South mainly moved to Indiana or California and later to Kansas, Texas, or Wisconsin. Three major colleges (Antioch, Oberlin,



and Wilberforce) made Ohio a key destination for Black migrants, but the attraction was diminished by the economic or social prospects in the North and West (Anderson, 1988, pp. 7–9; Perkins, 1994, pp. 380–387; Cross, 1994, p. 104). Still, there were at least 152 ‘‘identifiable Black’’ college and preparatory students at Oberlin before the Civil War. In 1844, Howard University founding faculty member George B. Vashon was the first African American graduate from Oberlin College. Approximately 100 African Americans, including only 3 women, earned the BA before the war’s end. Researchers suggest that Oberlin records indicate other prominent students were ‘‘prepared at good private Black schools in cities like Pittsburgh, Washington, DC, and Cincinnati.’’ This group included John Hartwell Cook of DC and William Alston of North Carolina (Lawson & Merrill, 1983, p. 146). Early case studies demonstrate that Black men highly valued education. When his stepdaughter was refused admittance to a school in Cleveland, Ohio, John Brown (a Black barber), built one of his own. Blacksmith Alan Jones of North Carolina rebuilt his school twice after it was burned down, then moved to Ohio to secure his children’s educational future. The ultimate example of Black men’s dedication to education is Alan Jones whose four sons all graduated from Oberlin College before the Civil War. The popular account shows: His son, James Monroe Jones, the first to enter Oberlin, found Latin and Greek difficult and spoke of quitting college until his father took him in the backyard, showed him a chopping block and sharp axe, and reputedly said, ‘‘Now James, you take your choice. You go back to college or you lay your head on the chopping black and I chop it off.’’ (Lawson & Merrill, 1983, p. 147)

College education was serious business and those fortunate enough to have access (when millions of other Blacks were enslaved) did not take it lightly. Not many in early America were so fortunate to have basic access to higher education. Due to the demands of rural life and the labor required of each family and community member – especially the men – the notion of accessible college education was not pervasive in colonial America. Harvard (founded in 1636 in Massachusetts), the College of William and Mary (1692 in Virginia), and Yale (1701 in Connecticut) were founded for the very few who were counted as citizens – ‘‘we the people’’ – in the colonial era. For those few who did attend, what type of education to obtain was a question. As early as 1693, the development of classical–vocational dichotomies became a moral and economic schism in institutional agendas. Debates about how students were to be trained and for whose benefit or about who

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was qualified for leadership became central to defining college study (Williams, 2005, pp. 57–58; Rudolph, 1990, pp. 4–47, 185, 211). In the curricula, the architects of the Ivory Tower distorted history by erasing from scholarly memory contributions made in science, technology, religion, law, and the arts by peoples of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, indigenous populations, or any peoples other than an amalgamated European construct. Thus, early college curricula masked from American college students the achievements of ancient Black scholars. The social significance of race was constructed, based loosely on unstable physical indicators. Ignoring significant biological and social variation, European – that is, ‘‘White’’ – studies dominated the new world academy. Fueled by an economic imperative to rationalize enslavement and world domination, whiteness was invented. However absurdly derived, the academy substantiated White supremacy in the name of ‘‘science’’ and ‘‘logic.’’ Black students who attended antebellum colleges like Oberlin were instructed in this ‘‘classical’’ canon that included Greece but excluded Africa (Pulliam & Van Patten, 1999, p. 102; Rudolph, 1990, pp. 134, 151, 239). Such was the environment in which the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890, establishing land grant colleges, were passed and why they provoked so much debate. On one hand, heads of wealthy colleges opposed the establishment of public universities because it would popularize education and allot land to states, thus distributing resources and wealth. On the other hand, the agricultural and mechanical focus of the state school curriculum would produce much-needed technology that enabled workers to generate wealth. When the acts passed, the 1862 act provided for the support of at least one college in every state, and the 1890 act renewed fund allotments and ‘‘stipulated that no appropriations would go to states that denied admissions to the colleges on the basis of race unless they also set up alternative facilities’’ (Pulliam & Van Patten, 1999, pp. 103–104; Rudolph, 1990, pp. 249–252). In the antebellum and Civil War period, Black scholars began to earn college degrees. Where there was social space for formal schooling, Black men and women formed clubs to link their personal development to the larger causes of abolition, racial justice, temperance, civil rights, and equal access to resources. Particularly in northern urban areas like Boston, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia where there was a relative critical mass of African Americans and some freedom to convene, the Black people who had access to formal education before the Civil War formed scholarly and benevolent societies (McHenry, 2002; Royster, 2000). The first wave of education was meager in numbers; the second would be a period of vast growth and intensified struggle.



SECOND WAVE OF ATTAINMENT: THE FLOW OF RECONSTRUCTION AND EBB OF JIM CROW Researcher Highlight: Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) BA/MA: Fisk University (1888); Harvard University (BA, 1890; MA, 1891) PhD: Harvard University (1895) Educational Research: College-Bred Negro (1900); College-Bred Negro American (1910) Intellectual Biography: Derrick Alridge, The Educational Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Intellectual History (2008) By mid-twentieth century, more women than men earned college degrees annually. The types of degrees available to women were limited by sexist attitudes about women’s capacity to learn. Most were enrolled in common schools for basic literacy skills or normal schools for teacher training. Conversely, few Black men were allowed or encouraged to attend college because of the limited opportunities for educated Blacks; dominant White society painted Black men as a threat; surely an educated Black man could be measured as doubly so, thus barriers were high. In addition, families supported daughter’s education to strengthen the teaching force, but many sons were denied college attendance because of the need of their labor to support the family income (Cooper, 1998, p. 85; Perkins, 1994, p. 384). W. E. B. Du Bois’ Atlanta Studies provided a unique quantitative picture of education in the Jim Crow era (Du Bois, 1900; Du Bois & Dill, 1910, pp. 45, 56). Du Bois calculated that by 1880, 1,118 Black men and 54 Black women had earned college degrees, mainly from Oberlin, Fisk, Wilberforce, Howard, Shaw, and Atlanta University (Du Bois, 1900, pp. 55–56; Du Bois & Dill, 1910, p. 45). By 1890, according to Du Bois’ count, the number of Black men graduates had risen to approximately 2,244. By Reconstruction’s end, African Americans had earned an estimated 208 bachelor’s and 10 master’s degrees (for reasons explained below, there were discrepancies in the numbers in DuBois’ data). By 1910, Black women’s annual enrollment began to slightly outnumber Black men’s, but admission to professional schools was limited for women: that year, only two Black women were recognized as lawyers while Black male lawyers numbered in the hundreds. Howard University alone graduated over 400 students by 1910. Except for during the 1920s, after the return of veterans from World War I (WWI), the trend of Black women’s higher college attendance rate than men continued throughout the century (Du Bois, 1900, pp. 55–56; Slater, 1994, p. 52; Johnson, 1938, p. 334).

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In 1890, Black college graduation rates were evenly balanced between northern and southern states. Only two decades later, a significant demographic shift had taken place. The time had ended when the North was the paramount region for Black educational opportunity; this was the age of southern institutional growth. I suggest two reasons for this shift: first, the solidification of the Plessy v. Ferguson Jim Crow segregation decreased attendance at formerly racially mixed institutions such as Berea College. Berea, founded in 1855 as a college for ‘‘Black and White together,’’ succumbed in 1904 to the Day Law, which prohibited integrated schooling in the state of Kentucky (Nelson, 2003, p. 9). Second, proliferation of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) during the Reconstruction South opened opportunity, even though growth was erratic. Though accreditation discrepancies would not allow a clear count of graduates, over 50 Black-serving institutions came of age following the Civil War. It is here that Black men made a momentous contribution. There is a much noted twentieth century trend that HBCUs have a higher graduation percentage than PWIs. Though the twenty-first century institutional numbers have shown some decrease in HBCU attendance, the trend of higher percentage of graduation rate remains steady. Since Reconstruction, HBCUs have proven to be as valuable, problematic, and promising as historically women’s or private religious colleges, but they rarely have been granted due legitimacy. Although HBCUs have experienced an alarmingly high incidence of mismanagement of funds and loss of accreditation dating back to their founding, it is certainly less shocking than comparable failings of other academic institutions, not to mention criminal greed, inefficacy, and neglect of those in private corporations and governmental agencies that the ‘‘most prestigious’’ institutions have trained over time. Despite problems, HBCUs work and Black scholars have excelled. Statistically, the majority of Black elite have graduated from Black schools, including Ed Bradley, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Hope Franklin, W. E. B. Du Bois, Althea Gibson, Kwame Kilpatrick, Ruth Simmons, Medgar Evers, Alex Haley, Toni Morrison, Mary Frances Berry, Alice Walker, Betty Shabazz, Ralph Ellison, Tom Joyner, Ronald McNair, Jesse Jackson, and Oprah Winfrey. It was in this early era where the legacy of greatness from HBCUs originated (Nettles & Perna, 1997, pp. xx, 27, 434). HBCUs were significant because there was virtually no opportunity for Black students to attend state predominantly White institutions (PWIs) in the South. By 1910, approximately 549 Black men had graduated from PWIs while 2,450 were graduates of HBCUs. Eight HBCUs had



over 100 graduates: Atlanta University (163), Bennett College (139), Biddle University – now Johnson C. Smith (275), Fisk University (245), Howard University (182), Lincoln University, PA (617), Shaw University (218), and Wilberforce University (138). Lincoln University in Pennsylvania has an illustrious history for Black men: the institution in Pennsylvania was the first HBCU founded for Black men (1954) and counts Langston Hughes (1929) and Thurgood Marshall (1930) as alumni. In contrast, only three state schools in the South that admitted African Americans benefited from the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862: Virginia Polytechnic, Mississippi State University, and Clemson University. Though the majority of Black college graduates were in the South, few were in desegregated state schools (Du Bois & Dill, 1910, pp. 46–47; Rudolph, 1990, pp. 250–263, 281–287, 424–427). In addition to northern and southern changes, westward movement increased. By 1910, 15 Black men had graduated from the University of Kansas, 5 from Iowa Wesleyan, 3 from University of Denver, 2 each from Iowa State and University of California, and 1 each from the University of Washington, University of Southern California, and University of Nebraska, Omaha (Du Bois & Dill, 1910, pp. 46–47; Taylor & Wilson Moore, 2003, pp. 293–311). In addition to geographic changes, the variance in quality of education, curriculum, and institutional resources meant that college degrees were largely unequal across the board. The differences in research findings about numbers of college graduates reflect the disagreement over and changing assessment of what exactly qualified as a college. There were significant discrepancies between the 1900 and 1910 Du Bois Atlanta studies: the 1900 study estimated 2,332 Black college graduates by 1899; the 1910 study estimated that a lower number, only 2,243, had graduated by 1899. The change in definition of a college between 1900 and 1910 explains the change in count of college graduates and demonstrates the difficulties researchers had providing accurate numbers (Du Bois, 1900, p. 37; Du Bois & Dill, 1910, p. 45). The 1900 Atlanta University study ranking system included four tiers: (1) Howard; (2) Fisk, Atlanta, Leland (Louisiana), Wilberforce, Paul Quinn; (3) Biddle, Shaw, Virginia Normal and College, Livingstone; (4) Lincoln. In 1910, researchers in the Atlanta Conference series updated the earlier report with a more comprehensive study. There were an estimated 34 HBCUs offering college-level work. The estimated 2,999 Black men had earned bachelor’s degrees from top-ranked institutions. The 1910 study used entrance requirements as a basis for ranking and counted 11 colleges in the first tier, including Howard, Fisk, Clark, Atlanta, Atlanta Baptist, and Spelman. The

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second tier included only 3 colleges, Lincoln, Talladega, and Wilberforce. The third tier included 18 colleges, and the rank of ‘‘vocational schools’’ was added, listing 9 schools, including North Carolina A&M, Tuskegee, and Hampton. The 9 HBCUs that had professional schools were Howard, Wiley, Leland, Virginia Union, Knoxville, Spelman, Lincoln, Talladega, and Atlanta Bishop (Du Bois, 1900, pp. 12–13; Du Bois & Dill, 1910, pp. 12–13). By 1910, 128 Black men and women had graduated from Oberlin, and 54 Black men and women had graduated from Harvard, Yale, Michigan, Cornell, Stanford, Catholic, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Chicago combined (Anderson, 1988, pp. 114, 251–256; Ward, 2003, p. 24; Willie & Edmonds, 1978, p. 111). In Blacks at Harvard: A Documentary History of African-American Experience at Harvard and Radcliffe (1993), readers are treated to an in-depth look at primary sources left by the sophisticated Black students of the day, including Greener and Du Bois and an honorary AM to Booker T. Washington. These stories provide reflections from Martin Delaney, a medical practitioner, politician, journalist, and Civil War officer who was admitted to the Medical School in 1850, with two other Black men, then rejected after one semester because of racist student petition which protested their presence and demanded their expulsion (Sollers et al., 1993, p. 21).1 Later graduates of Harvard included lawyer and NAACP founding member Clement G. Morgan (BA 1890, LLB 1893); journalist and founder of the Guardian, William Monroe Trotter (BA 1895, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, MA 1896); member of the American Negro Academy and one editor of Marcus Garvey’s Negro World, William H. Ferris (MA 1900), and Tuskegee professor and president of Cheyney State College, Leslie Pickney Hill (BA 1903, MA 1904). The origins of these scholars were quite different: some were graduates of the prestigious Dunbar High School in Washington, DC while some were the sons or grandsons of enslaved Blacks. Regardless of their origin, they each distinguished themselves at Harvard and demonstrated a dedication to get the most out of their education in order to advance opportunities for those who came after (Sollers et al., 1993). Generally, there was poor financial support for technical or vocational colleges, even though that was the most prominent college type. Hampton and Tuskegee were notable exceptions to this trend. The industrial framework perfected by Booker T. Washington suited the agenda of White philanthropists, and Washington was a skillful social engineer, so both schools garnered significant endowments from accrediting and funding bodies. Though Washington took much criticism from rivals like Du Bois



and William Monroe Trotter, he provided educational opportunity for much of the South where prospects were notoriously slim. New England provided limited but important educational opportunity. Comparatively, Ohio was the only northern state that maintained a critical mass of Black graduates in the second wave of attainment: 105 total. Oberlin remained a leading institution for African Americans: by 1910, 83 Black men and 66 Black women students had earned BA and MA degrees. The next nearest PWI was University of Kansas. Some northern states fell behind mid-western and western growth. For example, although Pennsylvania had a strong history of men’s fraternal organizations and a large free Black population, there was not an effective system of higher education for Black students. African Americans born in Pennsylvania were more likely than those born in any other state to get a college degree; however, they would get a degree in any other state than Pennsylvania (Du Bois & Dill, 1910, pp. 46–47; Ward, 2003; Franklin, 1979). Unlike Lincoln University in Missouri, which was founded by Black Civil War soldiers, most Black institutions contended with deep-seated administrative dilemmas: issues like having a predominately White teaching staff, dependence on philanthropic or governmental support, and defining the role that financial trustees would have in determining the curricular direction were recurring battles. Three types of administrative bodies – foundations, churches, and governmental bodies – presented substantial challenges within and between institutions (Du Bois & Dill, 1910; Watkins, 2001; Anderson & Moss, 1999). Despite the vast differences between Black educational institutions, many preparatory schools and colleges became centers of intellectual striving and too often where one was born had a large impact on their access to college preparation or exposure to Black college graduates. Institutions like Scotia Seminary and Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina, Institute for Colored Youth in Pennsylvania, Dunbar High School and Howard in DC, Tuskegee in Alabama, and Bethune-Cookman in Florida became cornerstones of their local communities. Most Black college graduates resided in Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Washington, DC, which largely dictated whether a young Black child would be aware that college graduation was a possibility (Anderson, 1988, pp. 34–35; Johnson, 1938, p. 46). For those who did live in the booming areas of educational access, campuses became a haven and breeding ground for leadership. Amidst the growth of HBCUs, Black single-sex women’s and men’s colleges emerged. Three women’s HBCUs of note blossomed: Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina (founded 1873, coeducational until

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1926); Hartshorn Memorial College for Women in Richmond, Virginia (founded in 1883, established as a college in 1888, first college degrees awarded in 1892); and Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary (later named Spelman College) in Georgia (founded in 1881). A number of PWI men’s liberal arts colleges also emerged during this time and of the four remaining (Wabash College in Indiana, Hampden-Sydney in Virginia, and St. John’s University in Minnesota), Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia stands as the only HBCU. Founded in 1867, as Atlanta Baptist Seminary by the American Baptist Home Missionary Society), Morehouse counts a significant number of Black theologians, physicians, lawyers, judges, mayors, congressmen, businessmen, ambassadors, activists, actors, and college presidents as alumni. Du Bois ranked the college among the top in its class and Charles S. Johnson, an educational researcher who followed Du Bois’s Atlanta studies model, also lauded Morehouse, along with Howard, Fisk, Lincoln, and Atlanta Universities as most influential and most responsible for producing teachers, community servants, and leaders in the race uplift movement (Du Bois, 1900, pp. 12–13; Du Bois & Dill, 1910, pp. 12–13; Johnson, 1938, p. 311). In addition to colleges and universities, late nineteenth century Black elite built impressive networks and organizations exemplified by the Black women’s club network that included the 1896 National Association of Colored Women and the 1935 National Council of Negro Women. For men, there were civic, literacy, and learned societies as well, none which surpassed the American Negro Academy founded by Alexander Crummell in 1897. This organization lasted until 1928 and counted Arthur Schomburg, Archibald Grimke, and Du Bois as presidents. Crummell, a graduate of the University of Cambridge in England (1853) became an influential leader in the Episcopal Church and worked as an activisteducator in Liberia. It is significant that scholars who would earn their PhDs, like Du Bois and Anna Julia Cooper, lauded him as a great spiritual influence and intellectual mentor and the American Negro Academy exemplifies scholarly community building as a constant feature in Black life adjacent to the walls of the Ivory Tower.

Complexities of ‘‘Lifting as We Climb’’: Balancing Leadership, Scholarly Excellence, and Social Justice In 1895, Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise speech and his first autobiography Up from Slavery (1901) made him a nationally recognized



spokesperson on race relations. Soon after, W. E. B. Du Bois published The Souls of Black Folk (1903), challenging Washington’s interpretation of educational imperatives for Black Americans. There is much work to be done to assess Booker T. Washington’s contribution in a way that deepens the understanding of the myriad convergences and divergences of these two thinker’s contributions. Though clearly Washington hoarded power and drew criticism from every corner of the Black community, it is also clear that he built an institution that still stands today. Washington certainly earned his enduring reputation as an accommodationist, yet even during his own time some White critics recognized the real gains he facilitated for Black communities and charged him with being too progressive. For example, one of Washington’s southern White critics wrote in the Saturday Evening Post (1905): [Washington] is the greatest diplomat his race has produced. Yet he who reads between the lines of his written and spoken words will find the same purpose and the same faith which his more blunt and fearless brethren have honestly and boldly proclaimed. In his book, The Future of the Negroyon page 69 he says: ‘‘The surest way for the Negro to reach the highest positions is to prepare himself to fill well at the present the basic occupations’’ yindependent industries, of course – for, mark you ‘‘Tuskegee Institute is not a servant-training school.’’ (Dixon, 1905)

By pointing out that Washington had economic equality in mind, Baptist minister Thomas Dixon, Jr. – author of The Clansman, the novel on which the 1915 movie Birth of a Nation was based – asserted that Washington had total social equality, eventual racial equality, and amalgamation in mind all along. Because Washington was not up front about all of his intentions, there remained much debate about whether he was really a closet radical and just what type of social relations he had in mind. Undoubtedly, though, while he did push social service, Washington did not intend to educate Blacks to be a perpetual underclass. The history of African American education is steeped in both experiential and pragmatist traditions. The Washington/Du Bois dialogue took place amidst larger tensions in a rapidly developing country where antiimmigrant Chinese and Mexican legislation, animosities between ethnic factions deepened, and Native American removal or termination policies belied national growing pains. Worldwide discord exacerbated these national crises. As the first Pan-African Congress met in 1900 in London, signaling a burgeoning international coalition of the African Diaspora, European antagonisms escalated, resulting in world war (Litwack, 1998; Painter, 1986; Painter, 1987).

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As with the first generation of collegians, Black college students in the second wave ranged in economic status, ancestry, and goals. In the North, particularly in New England, where there were only one or two Black men college students in each state, most integrated fairly well. If born in that region, they attended integrated preparatory schools and the college entrance was fairly seamless, yet the path was far from smooth (Rudolph, 1999, p. 244; Johnson, 1938, pp. 41–55). Black male students became adept at bridging the gap between academic excellence, personal relationship and family building, and community commitment, but the demands on all fronts were difficult. Off campus, commitment to community development was a constant focus. Shaw offered a definition of community that illuminated the missions of HBCUs during their inception: Community in this instance was more than a neighborhood. Interests, rather than buildings and borders, determined membership. Community therefore defied boundaries and tended toward dispersion rather than concentration. Community was also more than a romantic metaphor for racial solidarity. Composed dynamically of a diverse group of people, it was a social institution or an arrangement of people who possessed a common understanding of history, mutual interests in the present, and shared visions of the future for the group and all its members. But community was based on more than philosophical impulses; it was also rooted in activism – theory balanced with practice y (Shaw, 1996, p. 42).

Despite, or perhaps because of, the barriers presented to African Americans’ educational attainment, college attendance was inseparable from community engagement and social responsibility. Though there was much disagreement on the appropriate curriculum, proper employment, or correct methods by which to uplift the race, Black men and women generally internalized uplift ideals and lifted as they climbed the walls of the Ivory Tower (Pateman, 1988; Mills, 1997; Cooper, 1998, pp. 236–237). Of all barriers to education, violence was especially prevalent. After Emancipation, White violence against Blacks grew steadily and was unmitigated by law or custom. Legal repression was not enough to keep Black people in their subjugated ‘‘place,’’ so physical violence was employed to punish those who did acquire education, an elevated economic position, or both. White citizens attempted to beat any desire to succeed out of those who would dream of any other role than complete economic, social, political – and intellectual – submission (Litwack, 1998, p. 11). Where enslavement and antiliteracy laws reigned supreme in antebellum eras, African Americans were subjected to endless violence, economic intimidation, and political disenfranchisement once they were declared



‘‘free.’’ White domestic terrorism (signaled by the 1867 founding of the Ku Klux Klan in Tennessee), increased lynching between the 1880s and 1930s. Violence challenged Black development at every turn. In an atmosphere such as this, access to literacy did not guarantee freedom or justice, but overall, it did improve the quality of life. African American activism and organizational self-help galvanized, and by the eve of WWI, thousands of Black educators were uplifting the race through education. As college enrollment grew, Black students developed their own social, scholarly, and service clubs. The first Black Greek-letter organization (BGLO), Sigma Pi Phi, or the Boule´, was founded in 1904 by Black male college alumni in Philadelphia. This organization built on the centurylong tradition of literary and abolition societies, antebellum National Negro Conventions, eighteenth century Free African Societies (founded by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones) and the first Black male secret society – the African Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons (known as the Prince Hall Freemasons), founded in 1775 in Massachusetts. In 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, founded at Cornell, became the first BGLO on a college campus. In 1908, nine Black women on Howard University’s campus, led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, formed Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first college-based Black women’s Greek-letter organization. As outlined below, more organizations followed and formed a national and international network of college educated African Americans dedicated to race uplift. Although the Black fraternity and sorority movement gained currency in the mid-twentieth century, not all campuses had chapters. The secular overtones met with the same resistance on some Black campuses in the 1920s as it did on some White campuses in the 1700s and 1800s. Also, the elitism that often accompanied such groups was considered detrimental to the communal uplift central to HBCU missions. Accordingly, Tuskegee did not host chapters until the 1940s, though other social and service clubs existed. Black sororities and fraternities began during the second wave of attainment but grew strong roots in the third wave with the establishment of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) at Howard University in 1930. These organizations were a direct descendant of the Mason movement and built on organizational principles perfected by other developing organizations like the National Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Theses clubs and organizations linked campus to community and effectively overcame the most stubborn social barriers (Brown, Parks, & Phillips, 2005, pp. 43, 202; Parks, 2008; Turk, 2004; Ihle, 1992, p. 86). Elsewhere on campus, Phi Beta Kappa, of whom Masons were also founding members, became a symbol of academic pedigree. Honor

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societies illustrated the struggle between democratic ideals and aristocratic tendencies, between exclusion and inclusion in higher education. Founded in 1776, the oldest and most prestigious secret society rose amidst the move from the religious awakening toward reasoned enlightenment. Reason, objective science, and secular values trumped the prior focus of education on spiritual growth and moral character (Rudolph, 1990, pp. 322–325; Brown et al., 2005, p. 43). African Americans at PWIs were caught between embracing religious principles and being recognized for their intellectual and reasoning abilities. Though the Black church remained a central institution to Black scholars, they continued to strive for inclusion in elite academic circles, with limited success. By 1900, there were approximately 12 Black inductees in Phi Beta Kappa. Between 1901 and 1950, a mere 210 Black members would be inducted, and chapters at HBCUs were suspiciously rare. Black scholars advance in education, but did not completely leave their moral strivings for community uplift (Cross, 2002, p. 105; Titocomb, 2001, p. 92). Educated African Americans struggled to find a balance between the democratic ideal and collectivism of Black communities and the elite, individualist mores of higher education. Phi Beta Kappa represented the dilemma between middle-class striving and fitting in to common community and humble upbringing.The second wave of Black education saw the trickle of single-digit Black men college graduates grow into a constant stream numbering 3,000 strong. They effectively dedicated themselves to educating the next generation. The educational boom that enabled millions of Black Americans to gain school access in the second wave of attainment was in line with advancements made in the larger society: ‘‘between 1890 and 1925 enrollment in institutions in higher education grew 4.7 times as fast as the population. The release from aristocratic ideals implicit in such a statistic was perhaps the most dramatic fact about the course of American higher education in the twentieth century.’’ Though access to college increased nationally, social subjugation of African Americans minimized successes (Rudolph, 1990, pp. 232, 442). The fight for more access continued from Du Bois’s Atlanta studies toward the push for educational desegregation, rights, and power in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

THE THIRD WAVE: MEASURING ATTAINMENT SINCE THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY Researcher Highlight: Dr. Charles S. Johnson (1893–1956) BA: Virginia Union University (1916)



PhD: University of Chicago (1917) Educational Research: The Negro College Graduate (1938) Intellectual Biography: Patrick Gilphin & Marybeth Gasman, Charles S. Johnson: Leadership Beyond the Veil in the Age of Jim Crow (2003) Droves of migrants to northern and urban areas, the modernization produced by two world wars, cultural renaissance in popular cities like Harlem, St. Louis, and Chicago, the Great Depression, and the intensification of mass mobilization for citizenship rights all had great impacts on Black students’ college experiences in the third wave of educational attainment. While the growing majority of Black students attended undergraduate colleges in the South, the access to graduate studies, though slow, again drew them to northern urban institutions like the University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, and Columbia University in New York. Like their predecessors, third-wave graduates often left the school’s state after graduation to find a job, and their final location often depended on what type of degree they attained (Johnson, 1938, p. 39). As the Progressive era advanced, so too did the educational status of African Americans. The 1910 Atlanta University study estimated 5,000 Black students earning diplomas, certificates, and degrees in normal, vocational, college, and professional areas, with 2,964 completing collegelevel work. These numbers, like earlier researchers, did not stand up to research conducted in later years. In Charles S. Johnson’s The Negro College Graduate (1938), the estimated 1910 numbers were: 9,828 African American graduates including 3,856 completing college-level work. The 1910 Atlanta study counted only 658 Black women that had earned a bachelor’s degree compared to 2,999 Black men. Though Johnson’s study did not calculate pre-1910 numbers by gender, surely his numbers were drastically higher than Du Bois’ given the difference of 4,000 in the number of estimated total students. However, Johnson’s study, though more updated than Du Bois’, also mistakenly listed John Russwurm as the first African American college graduate (Bowdoin, Maine, 1826) instead of Alexander Twilight (Middlebury, Vermont, 1823) (Du Bois & Dill, 1910, pp. 47, 52; Johnson, 1938, p. 8). At the end of WWI, the numbers of African American degree earners had swelled to 7,304 bachelor’s, 145 master’s, and 25 doctorates. Though Black women’s annual college attendance rate was higher than men’s, their attainment of BAs from top-ranked schools was woefully behind African American men and White women. Black men’s numbers, though much larger than the initial 3,000, still reflected the irreparable damage of millions denied access to education since the founding of the country (Rudolph, 1990, pp. 146, 546–547; Height, 2003, pp. 30–31, 297;

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Cross, 1994, p. 104; Du Bois, 1900, p. 55; Du Bois & Dill, 1910, p. 46; Johnson, 1938, pp. 7–8). Charles Johnson, a renown sociologist, painted a detailed picture of the development of Blacks in higher education between world wars. He surveyed 116 PWIs and 56 HBCUs that identified 25,923 living Black graduates who had earned bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, law, or theology degrees. Like the earlier Atlanta studies, Johnson’s The Negro College Graduate research supplemented institutional statistics with a survey sample of 3,518 men and 1,994 women graduates. Of the 43,821 (cumulative) college degrees earned by Black students listed in Johnson’s study, 71 percent of the degrees were academic and 29 percent were professional. Graduation from HBCUs totaled 37,397 (85 percent), which far outnumbered the 6,424 (15 percent) graduating from PWIs. This era between 1910 and 1954 also represented a vast increase in what became community-college education. Though many attended colleges that were not high-ranked or even accredited, postsecondary education became an evermore attainable goal for Black students. Johnson found that most African Americans in the study earned their degree between 1926 and 1936, with a 115 percent increase occurring between 1920 and 1928 (Johnson, 1938, pp. 20, 292–298). As with earlier studies, Johnson’s statistical analyses were problematic. The estimations were subject to the changing definitions of what constituted a college, the number of reporting institutions responding to surveys, and unevenly recorded US Census data based on slippery categories of race. Though the Census was the most comprehensive population study, until 1960 it distinguished only between White and ‘‘other’’ races, without a complex breakdown of ethnicity. Yet, regardless of the actual number of degrees Black students earned, Johnson’s researchers located a majority of degree holders and surveyed a significant number of Black college graduates. With their surveys, they also provided insight into those graduates’ experiences and attitudes.

Regional Trends Continued Of the estimated 25,923 living Black graduates, 19,883 earned their diploma, certificate, or degree in the South, compared to 3,017 in New England, 2,675 in the Midwest, and 348 in the West. Like Du Bois, Johnson separated degrees by college rating and accreditation; only 18,918 earned degrees for



college-level work. Despite mass migration to the North, New England schools that historically had been at the forefront of Black education all but shut off educational opportunities to African Americans. Though Black students were still admitted to some schools, they did not stay after graduation. In Maine, where John Russworm graduated in 1826, only seven Black graduates lived in the state by 1938. Vermont, home to Middlebury College, which counted Alexander Twilight and Mary Anderson among its alumni, had no Black living graduates as residents. This phenomenon reflected the powerful pull of large urban centers and the staying power of the South: unless scholars were from New England, there was no incentive to go to school there; if they did, there was little incentive to stay after they completed studies. Of those completing college-level work, the numbers amounted to: 14,078 degrees granted in the South; 2,465 in New England; 2,117 in the Midwest; and 258 in the West (Johnson, 1938, pp. 10, 22). Johnson’s work highlighted the major centers of Black intellectual life. Black college graduates were born and lived in Pennsylvania but were still largely educated out of state; and the high residence of Black graduates in New York (16 percent) and Illinois (11 percent) showed that Blacks who settled in those areas remained long after the migration and renaissance of earlier decades. Of the total living graduates, 2,372 claimed Washington, DC, as home; of that number, 1,777 held college-level or professional degrees. This was by far the leading location for Black intelligentsia. The whole state of Texas had only 2,758 graduates, with 2,477 of those completing collegelevel work. Those gravitating toward DC also settled in surrounding areas. Though Virginia had gotten off to a slow start, graduating few Black students from state schools by 1910, there were 2,141 graduates and 1,022 degree holders by 1938. As previously outlined in the chapter by Raymond Gavin, White backlash was a constant shadow over Black achievement and graduates were not representative of the state’s population (Johnson, 1938, pp. 38–40; Slater, 1996, p. 72; Slater, 1994, pp. 47–56). After WWI, there was a significant decline in African American professional degree attainment due to the entrenchment of Jim Crow laws. Of those few who earned professional degrees by 1936, most were in the medical field: 37 percent were in medicine; 25 percent in dentistry; 14 percent in pharmacy; 13 percent in law; and 11 percent in theology. Black scholars and professionals continued to construct their own paradigms, and, although attempts continued to gain the status, recognition, and legitimacy enjoyed by White institutions, Black collegians made substantial gains on their own terms at HBCUs and in surrounding communities (Johnson, 1938, pp. 38–40).

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By devaluing anything Black, particularly an HBCU degree, and limiting Black enrollment at PWIs, older White northern colleges maintained their claim as elite, ‘‘superior’’ institutions. So, while a trickle of Black students were always admitted to New England schools, the numbers never amounted to the flood experienced in New England in the first wave of attainment or in other regions during the second and third waves. Massachusetts, with a long history of attainment, only had 173 living African American graduates compared to California’s 165. Johnson’s study also revealed a continued lack of educational opportunity for Black students in South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The complexity of the southern region is of great interest. Deep South states like Florida and Mississippi had abysmal records of college access while North Carolina and Georgia were havens for Black collegians. Early access largely influenced later attendance patterns in these states (Du Bois, 1899, pp. 93–95; Solomon, 1986, pp. 76, 131; Johnson, 1938, pp. 10, 22). Morehouse College had always produced community and national leaders. After the first and second generation of graduates, the number of illustrious alumni increased and established an impressive leadership network and a broad range of areas. Graduates have included publisher and historian Lerone Bennett (1949); physician and presidential advisor Henry Foster (1954); the first African American president of Howard University, Mordecai Johnson (1911), and actor Samuel L. Jackson (1972) (‘‘About Morehouse’’). While Martin Luther King, Jr. (1948), the most famous graduate of Morehouse College, remains a standard-bearer for engaged living by Black male college graduates, thousands of Morehouse men represent scholar-activists and collegiate dedication and standard bearers for Black male collegiate participation. Black men also continued to make gains at Harvard University. The third wave of Harvard graduates included Howard University professors Alain Locke (BA class of 1908) cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, PhD 1918 and Sterling Brown (BA 1922, Phi Beta Kappa; MA 1923); poet Countee Cullen (MA 1926); Howard University professor and contributor to the United Nations charter Ralph Bunche (MA 1928, PhD 1934); Dean of Howard University Law School and first Black federal judge William Hastie (BA 1925, magna cum laude and valedictorian), author and professor at Virginia Union, Atlanta, and Howard University, Rayford Logan (MA 1932, PhD 1936); University of Chicago and Duke University professor John Hope Franklin (MA 1936, PhD 1941); Rutgers University theater director Harold Scott (BA 1957); University of Iowa professor and Pulitzer Prize winning author James Alan McPhereson (LLB 1968); University of Michigan



director of the Center for Research on Economic Development Ernest J. Wilson, III (BA 1970); National Urban League policy analyst, Emory J. West (BA 1972, cum laude) Harvard political science professor Martin Kilson (MA 1958, PhD 1959), and former director of the African American Studies Department and W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard, Nathan Irvin Huggins (MA 1959, PhD 1952) (Sollers et al., 1993). Whether in law, literature, politics, history, mathematics, business, or performing arts, this exemplary group represented thousands who risked life and limb to gain admittance to college but did not make it to the graduation podium. As with the original college fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha (1906), Black men organized on college campuses to create organizational brotherhood and the fraternity movement grew: Kappa Alpha Psi (1911, Indiana University); Omega Psi Phi (1911, Howard University); Phi Beta Sigma (1914, Howard University), and Iota Phi Theta (1963, Morgan State University). These five fraternities, with the four sororities (1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha; 1913, Delta Sigma Theta; Zeta Phi Beta 1920; Sigma Gamma Rho, 1922) formed ‘‘The Divine Nine’’ and continue to provide a base for hundreds of thousands of men and women to serve their campuses and communities. As the organizations begin to celebrate their centennial anniversaries, it is clear that Black fraternities have provided much to the nation’s educational leadership.

Campus Movement and Black Intellectual Power Despite internal conflicts of the Black bourgeoisie, their efforts to achieve autonomy from White social and institutional control remained steady. In the 1920s, students at HBCUs, particularly Fisk in 1924 and Hampton in 1927, rebelled against White administrative, teaching, and curricular dominance. The student and community protest was so effective that Fisk’s President McKenzie resigned in 1925. For various reasons – including political expedience and economic survival – Black administrators often accommodated racist mandates, but many Black students rebelled against the White administrative agenda and reflected the multiple layers of Black collegians’ social thought (Anderson, 1988, pp. 269, 273). As exemplified by the founding Hampton University, HBCUs were often founded or run by White administrators and African Americans had little control of the function and curricular foci, even well into the twentieth century. In his groundbreaking Education of Blacks in the South (1988), historian James Anderson looked closely at the Fisk and Hampton rebellions; in

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The New Negro on Campus: Black College Rebellions of the 1920s (1975), Raymond Wolters also detailed campus unrest at Fisk, Howard, Tuskegee, Hampton, Wilberforce, Florida A&M, and Lincoln (MO) that foreshadowed the student protest of the 1960s. Both texts present the underlying conflict between Black students, administrators, community members, and White administrators and trustees in the struggle to define educational opportunities for Black students at HBCUs and interactions with local communities surrounding the schools (Anderson, 1988, pp. 266–273; Wolters, 1975; Rudolph, 1990, pp. 427, 443). African American students were invested in corrective measures to dispel stereotypes and construct what they felt as a more appropriate image of Black people. A large part of campus, club, and social work involved vindication and Black people’s defense of themselves. In most venues, from popular media to the US Census, African Americans were presented as a monolith; in reality Black scholars remained incredibly diverse in their origins, experiences, and ideas. The African character for centuries had been maligned – from colonial aristocrats to common White citizens – and the tradition of vindicating the Black race in the White popular imagination was paramount in all of African American cultural and intellectual production during that time. In the 1970s, sociologist St. Clair Drake identified vindication as a central thread in African American history scholarship. The presence of race uplift and vindication are clear from the early quests of Richard Greener to the later scholarly triumphs of Drake himself as a student of biology, English, and social anthropology at Hampton University (BS 1931) and doctoral student of anthropologist Allison Davis at University of Chicago (PhD 1954) (Rosa, 2006). Drake, along with Horace Cayton, produced Black Metropolis (1943) the premiere sociological study of Chicago and Drake taught many generations of scholars at Roosevelt University, University of Ghana, University of Liberia, and as head of Black Studies at Stanford University (Baber, 1999, pp. 191–212). Dr. Andrew Rosa argues that Drake was an intellectual of the African Diaspora as both a product of various geographies (United States, Great Britain, and West Africa) and as a major influence of later scholars continuing his legacy in a range of disciplines from history to sociology and anthropology around the globe. Whether through Pan-Africanism (1900s), Black Nationalism (1920s), the Black history movement (1920s–1940s), or Molefi Asante’s unparalleled articulation of Afrocentricity (1980s), Black men have contributed innovative, deep, conflicting, and inspirational ideas of blackness, manhood, humanity, nationalism, education, and justice (Franklin,



1996, pp. 11–20; Franklin & Collier-Thomas, 1996, pp. 1–16; Malveaux, 2002; Harrison & Harrison, 1999, pp. 1–22; Sundiata, 2003, pp. 2–8, 41–45, 339–340). In Contempt and Pity: Social Policy and the Image of the Damaged Black Psyche, 1880–1996 (1997), historian Daryl Scott has demonstrated how White social scientists both reflected and projected negative stereotypes of Black psychological states that also appeared in popular culture. Though Black self-image and group definitions were complex and changed over time, the Black persona was essentialized. No matter how many Black students attended college, they were still seen as ignorant, sex craved brutes as portrayed in D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915) and possessing no more wit or mental stability fortitude than the air-headed, habitual liar represented by Butterfly McQueen’s Gone With the Wind (1939) character ‘‘Prissy.’’ Black men who fought to get an education also fought the stereotypes of animal physicality, self-aggrandizement, and buffoonery, in the ‘‘Buck,’’ ‘‘Jim Dandy,’’ and ‘‘Zip Coon’’ stereotypes like the complexbut-damning Amos ‘n’ Andy (played by White actors Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll) or Stepin Fetchit (Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry) characters (Scott, 1997). Popular image was but one significant barrier to education; immediately after WWI, violence that began in the first and second waves of attainment grew to epidemic proportions. The cold statistics on the number of African Americans who were lynched can never reflect the unrelenting personal terror, innumerable rapes, the decimation of entire Black communities like Ocoee (1920) or Rosewood (1923) – both in Florida, or the multicity, mass murders in race riots (such as those that took place in the ‘‘Red Summer’’ of 1919). The economic roller coaster of prosperity and poverty in the 1930s disproportionately impacted Black communities. Economic depression was directly linked to increases in race-based violence White brutality was rationalized at every institutional level and even the bid for a congressional bill against lynching failed leaving Black people without recourse, representation, or voice (Zieger & Gall, 2002, pp. 33–65). In A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (1993), Ronald Takaki tells of barriers to education for Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans in addition to African Americans and European immigrants. The nuances of each group’s relation with social systems are significant, but the overall theme of exclusion by emerging White society is clear. Like Africans, any non-Whites were pressed into labor and mindnumbing service. Takaki reports a Mexican American’s comments in

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the 1920s: ‘‘I have heard many teachers, farmers and members of the School Board say, ‘What do Mexicans want to study for when they won’t be needed as lawyers? They should be taught to be good; they are needed for cotton picking and work on the railroads.’’’ It was apparent to those kept outside the gates of academia that higher education was desirable; it was equally clear to the gatekeepers that denying access to education was the key to controlling workers. Takaki wrote that a Texas farmer reasoned: If I wanted a man [to work] I would want one of the more ignorant ones y Educated Mexicans are the hardest to handle y. It is all right to educate them no higher than we educate them here in these little towns. I want to be frank. They would make more desirable citizens if they would stop about the seventh grade. (Takaki, 1993, pp. 228–236)

Though physical labor was as admirable work as any, lack of choice to attend college was evidently central to maintaining a labor force that would not be able to negotiate for property ownership, voter rights, living wages, or any number of other rights that ‘‘good citizens’’ in a democracy would deserve (Takaki, 1993, pp. 327–329).

Doctoral Study prior to the 1960s Hostile social attitudes toward Black men made living in America hazardous and gaining access to college improbable. Considering the barriers, it is no less than miraculous that Black men dared to earn PhDs. Graduate studies began in the United States as master’s of arts degrees in 1831: between the Civil War and WWI, some colleges developed into universities. While the undergraduate degree was a product of England, the doctorate was German by design. In 1810, Johann Fichte established the first doctoral program at the University of Berlin. The University of Go¨ttingen awarded the first doctorate of philosophy, in 1817, to Edward Everett. Yale awarded the first three American PhDs in 1861 (Clark, 1992, pp. 97–137; Greene, 1946, pp. 22–23; Rudolph, 1990, pp. 335, 232, 237, 273, 289, 397, 442, 397; Pulliam & Van Patten, 1999, pp. 134–135; Solomon, 1986, pp. 134–137). The first African American man to earn the doctorate, Patrick Healy (1834–1910), did so abroad in Louvain, Belgium, in 1865. Reverend Healy’s father, Michael, was an Irish cotton plantation owner in Macon, Georgia, and Patrick’s mother Eliza was a slave who Healy took to be his



wife. They had four children and Patrick became a president of Georgetown University (1874–1881). Edward Bouchet was the first African American male to earn a doctorate stateside, in physics from Yale in 1876. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale as an undergraduate, and his graduate specialization was geometrical optics and his dissertation titled, On Measuring Refracting Indices. Bouchet was only the sixth person to earn the doctorate in physics – and he was only 24 years old. Like Richard Greener, Bouchet was recruited to teach at the Institute for Colored Youth after graduation and dedicated 26 years of his life to educating Philadelphia students (Georgetown Special Collections; Mickens, 2002, pp. vii, 45–70).In The Negro College Graduate, Johnson calculated that by 1933, 75 doctorates had been awarded to Black men and 10 to Black women. By 1936, African Americans had earned 1,555 MAs, and 153 PhDs. But here, as before, the quantitative historical record is not consistent. In Holders of Doctorates among Negroes (1946), Harold Washington Greene calculated only 296 MAs had been awarded to African Americans. Greene, from North Carolina and a graduate of Lincoln University, Yale, and Columbia, represents the profile of a tireless educational researcher in the tradition of Woodson, Du Bois, and Johnson who has not yet been given credit for his immense scholarly contribution. His approach complicates research in unique ways. Despite the astounding amount of data gathered about doctorates, or perhaps because of the amount of data, a close reading of the methodologies and data collection reveals typical discrepancies with prior research. While Johnson’s number reflected all known counted degrees, Greene’s number reflected degrees awarded from only 50 colleges classified as ‘‘eminent’’ top-ranked universities. This methodology recalls earlier changes between the Du Bois 1900 and Du Bois 1910 studies. While each calculation represents the researcher’s unique perspective, both numbers indicate the relatively low participation of Blacks in graduate education. In all, African Americans were far behind in degree attainment: it was estimated that by 1876, 25 PWIs had already awarded 44 PhDs, putting most Black scholars six decades behind in doctoral-degree attainment (Johnson, 1938, p. 11; Greene, 1946, pp. 23, 219). By Greene’s account, 381 known African Americans had earned doctoral degrees by 1943, with 48 earned by women. Here, the estimates of Black doctorates were problematic for different reasons than in previous studies. Whereas earlier researchers faced the difficulty of finding Black scholars in PWIs that did not record race or those in which Black or mixed-race students passed for White (like notorious cases at Vassar College), Greene had trouble differentiating between Black scholars and scholars of Black

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studies. An amusing example is Herbert Aptheker, whom Greene mistakenly counted as an African American PhD because Aptheker’s dissertation topic, slave revolts, addressed Black history. Again, accurate numbers of graduates remained elusive, but the estimation of the number of graduates proves infinitely useful to scholars interested in history of higher education (Greene, 1946, p. 33; Solomon, 1986, pp. 134–137). Topping the list of doctoral-degree-granting institutions for African American graduates by the World War II (WWII) were: University of Chicago (40); Columbia (35); University of Pennsylvania (28); Cornell (25); Harvard (25); and Yale (10). As in earlier decades, most degree earners lived in Washington, DC. By the late 1930s, 85 (22 percent) of Black doctorate awardees lived in DC; Howard alone employed 70, including 8 women (Greene, 1946, pp. 29–31). The first three generations of scholars in the nineteenth and early twentieth century have set a high standard. As historical research on Black men collegians shows, the road to educational attainment, knowledge production, and institution building has been difficult. However, this history of participation and contribution also demonstrates the value of the present collection and the dire need for more graduate students, faculty members, administrators, and policy makers to collect, interpret, and apply much-needed ideas and solutions about these dedicated Black men’s scholarship.

THE LEGACY OF BLACK MEN’S SCHOLARSHIP-ACTIVISM: AN ONGOING STRUGGLE FOR ‘‘KNOWLEDGE OF SELF’’ (DETERMINATION) Researcher Highlight: Dr. Horace Mann Bond (1904–1972) BA: Lincoln University (1923) PhD: University of Chicago (1936) Educational Research: Education of the Negro in the American Social Order (1934); Negro Education in Alabama: A Study in Cotton and Steel (1939) Intellectual Biography: Wayne Urban. Black Scholar: Horace Mann Bond, 1904–1972 (1992) Many of today’s Black college students are first generation attendees. However, there are some legacies that exist that should be celebrated. For



example, civil rights activist and Georgia state legislator Julian Bond benefited from a multigenerational family of scholars and educators. Julian’s father, Horace Mann Bond graduated from the famed Lincoln University in Pennsylvania at the age of eighteen (1923) and then earned an MA (1935) and PhD (1936) from the University Chicago and became the first African American president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (1945). Horace Mann was the grandson of slaves but his father (James Bond) attended Berea College, Oberlin College, and became a trustee of Berea. Having survived an attack of the Klu Klux Klan at age eight, Bond dedicated himself to both social justice and educational justice. While today’s scholars dedicate ourselves to education research for and about generations of Black men whose parents did not have access to higher education, we must also study and employ the rich history of those, like the Bond family, whose successes illuminate the path (Urban, 1992, pp. 12, 24, 93). Horace Mann Bond’s 531-page Education of the Negro in the American Social Order (1934) is a research standard in education studies that carries on the excellent qualitative and quantitative tradition by Woodson, Du Bois, and Johnson. His research, like that of Dr. John Hope Franklin and Dr. Kenneth Clark, provided the basis of the NAACP argument in the desegregation education battles including Brown v. Board of Education. During what Dr. Peniel Joseph calls the ‘‘long Civil Rights Movement,’’ from the late 1930s into the 1960s and beyond, countless Black men contributed to the educational and social development of the United States in general and Black educational communities in particular. In addition to the scholarly contributions by creating knowledge inside the lab, classroom, and conference community, Black men have significantly contributed to higher learning by demanding equity in all areas of higher education. The struggles of early scholars like Martin Delaney, Alaine Locke, John Vashon, John Russworm, Richard Greener, and John Hope Franklin were paralleled in the post-Brown v. Board era. Black men continued to thrive at HBCUs, but their integration in to PWIs became ever tenuous as issues emerged such as denied admission because of race, violent rejection of their enrollment, discriminator treatment in the classroom, and the contentious integration into athletic programs. These barriers to equitable education were especially relevant in the South and were met by men like Virgil Hawkins, George Allen, and Stephan Mickle in Florida, Henrie Dobbins Monteith and Robert

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Anderson, Jr., and James Solomon in South Carolina, Harold A. Franklin in Alabama (along with James Hood and Vivian Malone), Hamilton Holmes with Charlene Hunter in Georgia, Irving L. Peddrew, III in Virginia, Theotis Robinson, Jr. and Charles Edgar Blair in Tennessee, James Meredith in Mississippi, John Lewis Brandon, Leroy Benjamin Frasier, Jr., and his brother Ralph Frasier in North Carolina, Herman Sweatt and Henry Eman Doyle in Texas, and Ezell Blair, Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond, four freshmen at North Carolina A & T who launched the sit-in movement in 1960 (along with women from Bennett and University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Like generations before and after, Black men and women collegians of the 1950s and 1960s demanded entry into academia for themselves and for their communities. Ultimately, they provided entry and guidance for a later generation of the 1970s and beyond. This generation produced numerous stellar examples, like laser physicist and astronaut Dr. Ronald E. McNair (BA, North Carolina A & T, 1971; PhD, M.I.T., 1976) for whom a national doctoral training program is named. The struggle for Black manhood, humanity, scholarship, and citizenship produced a multigenerational fraternity of scholars who valued learning, cherished instruction, and demonstrated brotherhood through creating opportunities for the many Black men who today follow in their paths (Shabazz, 2004, pp. 67–71; Wallenstein, 2008, pp. 10–11, 34–36). Before the establishment of the United States as a nation, Black people contributed to the public narrative. Writers emerged as exemplars of Black men’s dedication to learning and literature production. Some early writers include Olaudah Equiano (The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself, 1789), David Walker (Appeal, 1829), George Moses Horton (The Hope of Liberty, 1829), William Wells Brown (Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter, 1853); Henry Highland Garnet (An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America, 1843); Frederick Douglass (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, 1845); and James Whitfield (America and Other Poems, 1853). These are merely a few of the early Black men poets, dramatists, novelists, elocutionists, activists, and autobiographers who asserted themselves in the social contract as civic participants by penning their own stories. They did not need to obtain a degree to write. Their production, in any genre, contained an element of research, creative narrative, and critical social science worthy of acclaim if not degree. American society did not acknowledge these scholars as ‘‘educated’’; recognition as learned men was withheld, but



surely scholars of today can learn much from these early thinkers (Gates & McKay, 1997). Clearly, Black men continue to face overwhelming challenges when entering or leaving the Ivory Tower. Yet, the continual emergence of bright scholars (including the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama) shows that hope springs eternal for some of today’s Black men determined to attend college. Moreover, many realize that attending a university does not guarantee an education so students today often desire to know more than what is presented in the curriculum. Some Black men seek their reflection in collegiate ancestors who paved the way. In their song, ‘‘Knowledge of Self (Determination)’’ the hiphop group BlackStar, Mos Def and Talib Kwali, recognize the value of internal and reflective study: singin’ is swingin’ and writin’ is fightin’ but what they writin’ got us clashin’ like titans, it’s not excitin’ No question, being a Black man is demandin’, The fire’s in my eyes and the flames need fanning’ y 

knowledge of self is like life after death with that you never worry about your last breath y at what point do you start to realize that life without knowledge is death in disguise? y 

that’s why i got love in the face of hate hands steady so the lines in the mental illustration is straight y with that (what?) knowledge of self (determination) y with that (what?) knowledge of self (determination) y

Like Du Bois’ homage to Galileo, BlackStar charges Black men with learning, teaching, and knowing themselves and the universe around them in a way that challenges convention. Despite lack of equitable access or sustained opportunity, contemporary Black male scholars and activists abound. Legacies like those of Dr. St. Clair Drake and the essential contributions of Dr. Asa Hilliard are ripe to be discovered by a new generation. Some who labor tirelessly are well known public intellectuals or top-ranked professors like Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Derrick Bell, Houston Baker, Jabari Asim, and activist-scholars like Jelani Cobb. Others are the less well known, but just as effective institution builders within the Southern Regional

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Education Board, United Negro College Fund; leaders of or within national agencies like the National Science Foundation, the National Institute for Environmental Health, or the National Endowment for the Humanities, and individuals in university administrations (especially presidents, vice presidents, deans, and department heads across the country that advance efforts by older initiatives. Some carry on the editorial and journal tradition through scholarly publication bodies. There are those, through the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, National Council of Black Studies, or Black caucuses of professional organizations, who bring critical race discussion to the fore of cutting-edge scholarship. In reality, most Black men academics are little-known, dedicated educatoractivists who labor in obscurity, but who strive to educate themselves and their students despite the thankless tasks, hostile environment, and relative isolation of scholarly life. Much research must be done to fully realize the history and present state of Black men in higher education in order to positively impact the future. Dr. Daryl Scott has recently found a previously unpublished ‘‘lost manuscript’’ written by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1921 (Woodson, 1921), The Appeal, in special edition published by ASALH, is only one example of the rich research still to be done in Black men’s intellectual history. This present set of three volumes on the status of Black men in higher education represents an entirely new area of research that must be advanced. This edited collection will undoubtedly bolster the efforts of all who work to be ‘‘learners and teachers of men’’ and who build upon the very solid intellectual masonry so carefully laid by those who have come before.

NOTE 1. The Harvard petition read, ‘‘The undersigned, members of the medical class, would respectfully submit to the Medical Faculty their desire to be informed whether colored persons are to be admitted as students at another course of lectures. This request is offered not with the view of influencing any action of the Faculty, but simply that the undersigned may have the opportunity to make such arrangements for the future as shall be most agreeable to the feelings in the event of Negroes being allowed again to become members of the school.’’ This petition, by seemingly disingenuous ‘‘gentlemen’’ exemplifies the sinister and masked nature of racism in the North that was just as effective at excluding Black students as the more hostile and overt racist practices of the South.



REFERENCES About Morehouse. Legacy – Prominent Alumni. alumni.html. (Accessed January 6, 2009.) Alexander, S. (2008). T. Thomas fortune: The Afro-American agitator. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. Alridge, D. (2008). The educational thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: An intellectual history. New York: Teachers College Press. Anderson, E., & Moss, A. (1999). Dangerous donations: Northern philanthropy and southern Black education, 1902–1930. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press. Anderson, J. (1988). The education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. Baber, W. (1999). St. Clair Drake: Scholar and activist. In: I. Harrison & F. Harrison (Eds), African American pioneers in anthropology (pp. 191–212). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Bond, H. M. (1934, 1966). The education of the Negro in the American social order. New York: Octagon Books. Brown, T., Parks, G., & Phillips, C. (2005). African American fraternities and sororities: The legacy and the vision. Louisville, KY: University of Kentucky Press. Clark, W. (1992). On the ironic specimen of the doctor of philosophy. Science in Context, 5(March), 597–609. Cooper, A. J. (1892, reprint 1998). In: C. Lemert & E. Bhan (Eds), The voice of Anna Julia Cooper. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. Conyers, J. (2003). The Black male narrative: An Afrocentric assessment. In: J. Conyers (Ed.), Afrocentricity and the academy: Essays on theory and practice (pp. 163–175). Jefferson, NC: McFarland. Cross, T. (1994). Tributes and tokens: The record of honorary degrees for Blacks. Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 6(Winter), 70–71. Cross, T. (2002). The Earliest Black Graduates of the Nation’s Highest Ranked Liberal Arts Colleges. Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 38(Winter), p. 104. Dagbovie, P. (2008). The early Black history movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Dixon, T. (1905). Booker T. Washington and the Negro. Saturday Evening Post, August 19, p. 1. Du Bois, W. E. B. (1899, reprint 1998). The Philadelphia Negro: A social study. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Du Bois, W. E. B. (1900). College-Bred Negro. Atlanta, GA: Atlanta University Press. Du Bois, W. E. B. (1908, reprint 2001). ‘‘Galileo Galilei’’ in Du Bois, W.E.B. The Education of Black People: Ten Critiques, 1906–1960 (1973, reprint 2001), edited by Herbert Aptheker. Du Bois, W. E. B., & Dill, A. (1910). College-bred Negro American. Atlanta, GA: Atlanta University Press. Franklin, V. P. (1979). The education of Black Philadelphia: The social and educational history of minority community, 1900–1950. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Franklin, V. P. (1996). Living our stories, telling our truths: Autobiography and the making of the African-American intellectual tradition. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Franklin, V. P., & Collier-Thomas, B. (1996). Biography, race vindication, and AfricanAmerican intellectuals: Introductory essay. Journal of Negro History, 81(Winter– Autumn), 1–16. Gates, H. L., & McKay, N. (1997). The Norton anthology of African American literature. New York: Norton Company. Gilphin, P., & Gasman, M. (2003). Charles S. Johnson: Leadership beyond the veil in the age of Jim Crow. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Greene, H. (1946). Holders of doctorates among American negroes: An educational and social study of negroes who have earned doctoral degrees in course, 1876–1943. Boston: Meador Publishing. Harrison, I., & Harrison, F. (1999). African American pioneers in anthropology. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Height, D. (2003). Open wide the freedom gates: A memoir. New York: Public Affairs Press. Ihle, E. (1992). Black women in higher education: An anthology of essays, studies, and documents. New York: Garland. Johnson, C. (1938, reprint 1969). The Negro college graduate. Negro Universities Press: New York. Lawson, E., & Merrill, M. (1983). The antebellum ‘talented thousandth’: Black college students at Oberlin before the civil war. Journal of Negro Education, 52(Spring), 142–155. Litwack, L. (1998). Trouble in mind: Black southerners in the age of Jim Crow. New York: Knopf. Malveaux, J. (2002). When the personal is political: Telling and selling our stories. Black Issues in Higher Education, 19, p. 36. McHenry, E. (2002). Forgotten readers: Recovering the lost history of African American literary societies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Mickens, R. (Ed.) (2002). Edward Bouchet: The first African American Doctorate. Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific. Mills, C. (1997). The racial contract. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Nelson, P. (2003). Experiment in Interracial Education at Berea College, 1858–1908. In: Berea College General Education Board (Eds.), US Traditions: A Reader. Littleton, MA: Tapestry Press. Nettles, M., & Perna, L. (1997). The African-American education data book: Preschool through high school education. Fairfax, VA: Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute of the College Fund of the United Negro College Fund (FDPRI/UNCF). Painter, N. (1986). Exodusters: Black migration to Kansas after reconstruction. New York: Norton. Painter, N. (1987, reprint 1976). Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877–1919. New York: Norton. Parks, G. (Ed.) (2008). Black Greek-letter organizations in the twenty-first century: Our fight has just begun. Louisville, KY: University of Kentucky Press. Pateman, C. (1988). The sexual contract. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. Patrick Healy Papers. Georgetown special collections. (Available at: http://library.georgetown. edu/dept/speccoll/cl57.htm, accessed on January 2, 2009). Perkins, L. (1994). Education. In: E. Brown, D. Hine & R. Terborg-Penn (Eds), Black women in America: An historical encyclopedia (pp. 380–387). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Pulliam, J., & Van Patten, J. (1999). History of education in America. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.



Rimer, S., & Arenson, K. (2004). Top college take more Blacks, but which ones? New York Times, June 24, Education Section, 24A. Rosa, A. (2006). In the service of God, race, and man: St. Clair Drake, a scholar-activist in the American Century. PhD dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Royster, J. (2000). Traces of a stream: Literacy and social change among African American women. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. Rudolph, F. (1962, reprint 1990). The American College and University: A History. Athens: University of Georgia Press. Scott, D. (1997). Contempt and pity: Social policy and the image of the damaged Black psyche, 1880–1996. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina. Shabazz, A. (2004). Advancing democracy: African Americans and the struggle for access and equity in higher education in Texas. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. Slater, R. (1994). The Blacks who first entered the world of White higher education. Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 4(Summer), 47–56. Slater, R. (1996). The first Black graduates of the nation’s 50 Flagship State Universities. Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 13(September), 72–82. Shaw, S. (1996). What a woman ought to be and to do: Black profession women workers during the Jim Crow Era. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press. Sollers, W., Titcomb, C., & Underwood, T. (Eds). (1993). Blacks at Harvard: A documentary history of African-American experience at Harvard and Radcliffe. New York: New York University Press. Solomon, B. (1986). In the company of educated women: A history of women and higher education in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Sundiata, I. (2003). Brothers and strangers: Black Zion, Black Slavery, 1914–1940. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Takaki, R. (1993). A different mirror: A history of multicutlural America. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Co. Taylor, Q., & Wilson Moore, S. (2003). African American women confront the west, 1600–2000. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. Turk, D. (2004). Bound by a mighty vow: Sisterhood and women’s fraternities, 1870–1920. New York: New York University Press. Urban, W. (1992). Black scholar: Horace Mann Bond, 1904–1972. Athens: University Press of Georgia. Wallenstein, P. (2008). Higher education and the civil rights movement: White supremacy, Black Southerners, and College Campuses. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. Ward, T. (2003). Black physicians in the Jim Crow South, 1880–1960. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press. Watkins, W. (2001). The White architects of Black education: Ideology and power in America, 1865–1954. New York: Teachers College Press. Williams, H. (2005). Self taught: African American education in slavery and freedom. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. Willie, C., & Edmonds, R. (Eds). (1978). Black colleges in America: Challenge, development, survival. New York: Teachers College Press. Wolters, R. (1975). The New Negro on campus: Black college rebellions of the 1920s. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Historical View of the Participation and Contributions of Black American Males 65

Woodson, C. G. (1921). The Appeal (published 2009). Edited by Daryl Scott. Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Washington, DC. Woodson, C. G. (1915, 1919, reprint 1991). The education of the Negro prior to 1861. Manchester, NH: Ayer Company Publishers. Zieger, R., & Gall, G. (2002). American workers, American Unions: The twentieth century (3rd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

THE DEMOGRAPHY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES IN HIGHER EDUCATION Richard R. Verdugo and Ronald D. Henderson 1. INTRODUCTION In 1980, there were 1,106.8 million African Americans enrolled in college. Of this number, 463,700 were males and 643,100 were females. In other words, among African Americans enrolled in higher education, 58.1% were female. By the year 2004, of the 2,164.7 million African Americans enrolled in higher education, 65% were female. Thus, between 1980 and 2004, the gender gap in higher education within the African American community increased by nearly 7 percentage points. What happened to African American males? Why are they not enrolling in higher education at higher rates? The gender gap in higher education is not limited to African Americans. The same trend can also be found among Whites and Hispanics. Table 1 shows these ‘‘gaps.’’ Several important patterns emerge from Table 1. First, it is clear that, generally speaking, females are increasingly more likely to enroll in college than males. Indeed, the gender gap ratios (GGRs), for all ethnic-racial groups, increase over time. Second, note that there are important race differentials in the GGRs. The GGRs are greatest among African Americans

Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 67–82 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006008




Table 1. Year

2004 2000 1990 1980

Gender Gaps in Higher Education.













7,575 6,682 6,192 5,430

9,808 8,631 7,429 5,957

5,944 5,311 5,235 4,804

7,438 6,689 6,253 5,121

776 815 587 476

1,525 1,349 807 686

852 619 364 222

1,123 807 384 221

Gaps ratioa 2004 2000 1990 1980

1.29 1.29 1.20 1.10

1.25 1.26 1.19 1.07

1.97 1.66 1.37 1.44

1.32 1.31 1.06 1.00

Source: US Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, PPL-148, a The gaps ratio is (males/females)  100.

and Hispanics, particularly in recent years. Finally, note that the GGRs are greatest among African Americans, where African American females are about 1.4–1.97 times more likely to enroll in college than African American males. Why? Causality is an interesting concept. At times it is difficult, if not impossible, to establish causal relationships between two variables. In some cases, such as enrollment in higher education, causality is a bit easier to establish. The presence of African American males in higher education is determined by educational and non-educational topics. Educationally, performance and attainment are barriers to African American males enrolling in higher education. In terms of educational performance, there is evidence that African American males do not achieve at levels equal to that of African American females, and poor academic performance in high school negates their chances of enrolling in college. For example, Table 2 presents NAEP Math and Reading scores for African American males and females for the years 2000 and 2005. These data indicate that African American males and females perform about equally well on math. Yet, notice the standard errors: African American males have considerably greater spread on their Math scores than African American females. Indeed, the African American male Math score is one standard error greater than the African American female Math score. In terms of the Reading scores among 12th graders, African American females significantly outperform African American males by a margin of


The Demography of African American Males in Higher Education

Table 2. NAEP Math and Reading Scores among White Males, and African American Males and Females, 12th Graders: 2000 and 2005. Discipline

Math (2000) Reading (2005)

White Males

African American Males

African American Females

Difference : African American Males – African American Females

307 (1.5) 283 (1.1)

274 (2.8) 260 (1.7)

273 (1.9) 271 (1.7)

þ1 11

Source: NAEP website: Retrieved November 13, 2008.

11 points on the NAEP Reading test. This is an important finding because reading is a foundation skill for further learning. In terms of educational attainment, two factors are important: dropout rates and retention rates. The status dropout rates1 for African American males and females for the years 1967–2006 are displayed in Fig. 1. This is a stunning result because it displays what many have known for years – African American females tend to have better educational experiences than African American males. Dropout rates reflect not only persistence, but also a degree of alienation from the education system. The flip side is the percentage of high school graduates enrolled in college. These data are displayed in Fig. 2, for African Americans aged 18–24 years. Again, note the greater enrollment of African American females. In 1967, 10% of African American females who were high school graduates were enrolled in college. The rate for African American males was 32%. By 2006, 37% of African American females were enrolled in college compared to 28% among African American males. The crucial years were 1975 and 1976, when African American females surpassed African American males. School retention is also an issue. Research indicates that African American males are more likely to be retained than African American females (Hauser, Pager, & Simmons, 2000; Owings & Magliaro, 1998). Grade retention is important because it not only tends to act as an alienating factor, but also increases the likelihood of dropping out.2 Non-educational factors also play a role in explaining why the higher education enrollment rates among African American males lag behind those of African American females. Chief among these factors is involvement in the Justice System. For example, in year-end 2007, the number of African Americans sent to prison was 3,138 per 100,000 African American males in the United States. Compare this to the 1,259



Fig. 1. Status Dropouts among African American Males and Females Aged 18–24 Years: 1967–2006.

Hispanic male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 Hispanic males, and the 481 White male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 White males (http://www., retrieved December 30, 2008). In terms of prison inmate statistics, in 2007, the number of inmates aged 18–19 years per 100,000 residents was 1,995. For White males the number of inmates aged 18–19 years per 100,000 residents was 1,016; for African Americans it was 5,710; and for Hispanics it was 2,383. For females the number was 133 inmates per 100,000 residents; 90 for White females; 245 for African American females; and 187 for Hispanic females. Another college-age cohort is age 20–24 years; incarceration data for this cohort per 100,000 are displayed in Table 3.3 Other non-educational factors are also important in determining whether African American males enroll in higher education, but they are factors that


The Demography of African American Males in Higher Education

Fig. 2.

College Enrollment among African Americans Aged 18–24 Years by Gender: 1967.

Table 3.

College Age 20–24 Years Incarceration Rates per 100,000 by Race and Gender: Mid-Year 2007.






Males Females

3,352 304

1,675 226

10,698 612

4,168 357

Source: Sabol and Couture (2008).

do not preclude them from attending. Rather, they are niches where African American males are to be found because they could not or would not pursue higher education, such as the Armed Forces. The literature is fairly extensive as to why we see only small percentages of African American males in higher education. And, of course, there are endogenous factors that themselves need explanation. That is, there is a large body of research indicating that racial stratification factors exist as to why African American males do not achieve academically in school.



For example, the research points out that educators’ expectations, lack of adequate resources, tracking, the over-representation of African American males in special education, a biased curriculum, and so forth all co-mingle to alienate African American males from school and contribute to their poor academic performance (Eccles et al., 1983; Eccles, Adler, & Meece, 1984; Eccles & Wigfield, 1995; Wigfield & Eccles, 1992; Stevenson, Chen, & Uttal, 1990; Stelle, 1997; Lee & Bailey, 1997; Davis, 1994, 1998; Cummings, 1986; McDermott, 1987; Ford, 1996). Nonetheless, an important strategy toward increasing the percentage of African American males in higher education is to ask several demographic-related questions. Answers to these questions, we believe, can go a long way toward better understanding the problem. The purpose of our chapter is to undertake such a demographic analysis. That is, we develop and use a demographic model in attempting to describe the extent to which a gender gap exists in the African American community regarding enrollment in higher education. In undertaking such an analysis, our chapter is organized in the following manner:  We develop a demographic framework for our analysis, and we use the model to identify and employ key demographic indicators.  We apply the model in order to better understand the breadth and scope of the problem.  We draw some important conclusions and make suggestions for further research. We should point out that our analysis is not aimed at finding solutions but in looking at variation in enrollment and in raising further questions that would lead to explanations. We have been somewhat successful in this objective.

2. A DEMOGRAPHIC MODEL Demography is the science of population.4 Demography may be defined narrowly, broadly, or very widely. In terms of its being defined narrowly, it focuses on four concepts: size, distribution, structure, and change. By size is meant numbers. Distribution refers to the arrangement of populations over space and time (e.g., state or regional distributions). Structure addresses the composition of the population by age and sex. In the narrow definition of demography, there are three components of change: birth, death, and migrations.

The Demography of African American Males in Higher Education


Broadly defined demography adds more traits to its units, such as ethnicity, race, social traits, and economic status. How does demography affect education? Because demography involves the size, structure, distribution, and change of populations, it holds a direct and significant importance for educational systems. Table 4 presents a model of how demography affects the education system. What this table does is cross-classify two concepts: demographic components and components of the education system.5

3. FINDINGS 3.1. Size of the African American Population in Higher Education 3.1.1. African American Population of College Age By the college-age population, we mean individuals aged 18–24 years. Data presented in Fig. 2 indicate that the proportion of African Americans enrolled in college has increased significantly since 1967. In fact, from 1967 to 2006 there has been a 345% increase in the number of African Americans aged 18–24 years enrolled in college: from 297,000 in 1967 to 1,321,000 in 2006. There are, in addition, significant gender differences represented in Fig. 2. In 1967, there were approximately 167,000 African American males enrolled in college and 130,000 African American females. In terms of percentages, they represented 16 and 10%, respectively, of their gender groups aged 18–24 years. By 2006, the raw numbers and percentages changed dramatically. In 2006, there were 541,000 African American males aged 18–24 years enrolled in college, or 27% of all African American males aged 18–24 years. But among African American females, the number rose to 780,000, or 37% of African American females aged 18–24 years. In fact, the percentage change between 1967 and 2006 in the enrollment rates for African American males was 69, but for African American females it was 270.6 Fig. 2 shows that there were three important years in the gender gap. The first occurred in the mid-1970s, when African American females overcame African American males in enrollment in institutions of higher education. The second was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the gap began to widen. And, finally, the last important years were in the late 1990s, when the gap took off and African American females increased their lead over African American males as students enrolled in institutions of higher education.

Table 4.


Type of Institution


Higher Education Components/Issues and Proposed Indicators

A Demographic Model for Analyzing the Status of African American Males in Higher Education.

Enrollment Number enrolled in higher education. Indicators: actual numbers and percentages

Distribution across selected geographic concepts. Indicators: numbers and percentages by regions and states in the United States

Type of higher education institution attending. Indicators: numbers and percentages of those enrolled in universities, 4-year institutions, 2-year institutions, and HBCUs

Number and proportion earning a degree by type of degree Fields in which degree was earned. Indicators: number and percentages by degree types, such as African Americans, BA/ BS, Masters, and Doctorates. Number and percentages by field, such as physical sciences, math and engineering, social sciences, humanities, and other fields


Demographic Concepts Size




Note: Darkened cells indicate that indicators might not be applicable.


The Demography of African American Males in Higher Education

3.2. Distribution Though our analysis thus far shows that African American males have continued to comprise a lesser and lesser proportion of the African American population in higher education, the question that still arises is: Do these trends occur across certain geographic areas? This is an important question because not all regions of the country will be equally affected, which could affect policy. In this section, we examine the enrollment of African American males and females in higher education across two Census areas: regional and metropolitan.

3.2.1. Regions Census Areas and Enrollment in Higher Education Table 5 presents college enrollment data for both African American males and females aged 18–24 years by the nine Census regions of the United States. These data paint two pictures about gender differences in higher education within the African American community. To begin with, enrollment rates among African American males are not invariant across regions. African American males have the highest enrollment rates in the New England region and in the Pacific region as well.

Table 5.

Enrollment in Higher Education among African Americans by Gender by Region Aged 18–24 Years: 2006.


As a Percentage of Total 18–24-YearOld Population: Males

As a Percentage of Total 18–24-YearOld Population: Females

As a Percentage of 18–24 Year Olds Enrolled in College: Males

New England Division Mid-Atlantic Division East-North Central Division West-North Central Division South Atlantic Division East-South Central Division West-South Central Division Mountain Division Pacific Division

20.78 14.92 12.58 12.87 13.63 13.51 13.74 13.86 18.45

21.09 21.29 17.93 15.29 19.02 20.16 17.47 14.76 19.54

49.62 41.20 41.23 45.70 41.74 40.12 44.02 48.42 48.56





Original computations. Source: Alexander et al. (2008).



Their lowest enrollment rates are to be found in East-North and WestNorth Central regions. A second story is that African American males are not enrolled at the same rate as African American females. Of the nine Census regions, females have greater enrollment rates (as a percentage of all 18–24 year olds in a region) in all regions. The regions where the gender gap in higher education is greatest are in the East-South Central and in the mid-Atlantic regions. The regions with the least differentials are the Mountain and Pacific regions. The lone region where this is not the case is New England, where for all practical circumstances the rates are equal. There are several ways of examining the enrollment rates of African American males. One way is to examine the proportion of all African Americans enrolled in higher education. The last column in Table 5 displays this sort of distribution. In all cases, African American males are less likely than African American females to be enrolled in higher education. 3.2.2. Metropolitan Census Areas and Enrollment in Higher Education Metropolitan status is another distribution factor that may be important in studying the higher education enrollment of African American males. In this section, we examine three metropolitan statuses: rural, inner city, and suburban. Given the many adverse social conditions and poor educational opportunities that occur in the inner city (see Anderson, 2000) and act as barriers for access to higher education (crime, unemployment, alienation, discrimination, lack of education equity or adequacy), it may be that African American males are more likely to be enrolled in higher education if they reside in areas outside the inner city. Data found in Table 6 can assist us in finding an answer to such a conjecture. Of the five metropolitan areas listed in Table 6, the three of interest are rural, inner city, and suburban.7 African American males in the suburbs tend to be enrolled at greater rates in higher education than their male counterparts from the inner city and rural areas. There is no substantive difference in the enrollment rates between the rural and inner city areas, which lends to speculation that factors impacting African American male college enrollment have the same impact in both central-city and rural areas. Both share a number of social and educational factors, such as lack of resources, poor teacher quality, high poverty rates, and racebased segregation. These factors may also co-mingle to lower educational attainment. Further research is clearly needed on this topic. In terms of gender differences, we find that African American females enroll at greater rates in all three metropolitan areas. The largest differential


The Demography of African American Males in Higher Education

Table 6.

College Enrollment among African Americans Aged 18–24 Years by Metropolitan Status: 2006.

Metro Area

Enrolled as a Enrolled as a Percent Males Enrolled as a Percent of 18–24 of 18–24 Year Olds: Percent of 18–24 Year Olds: Males Females Year Olds Enrolled

Not identifiable Rural Inner city (metro area) Suburbs (outside central city) Central city unknown

16.89 12.81 13.36 15.39 14.11

15.67 15.90 19.51 20.10 19.32

51.87 44.62 40.65 43.36 42.20





Original computations. Source: Alexander et al. (2008).

is in the inner city, which tends to support our tentative hypothesis about the barriers posed by living in the inner city (e.g., high unemployment, poor school resources, high levels of crime and alienation, and so forth). The least differential is found in rural areas. As a further check on the enrollment of African American males, we examined the enrollment rates of African American males as a percentage of all African Americans aged 18–24 years (the last column in Table 6). We find that males are considerably less likely to be enrolled than African American females. Of the three identifiable metropolitan areas, males make up considerably less than 50% of those enrolled in higher education. Note that this is particularly the case in the inner city, where African American males represent only 41% of all 18–24 year olds enrolled in higher education.

3.3. Composition of African Americans in Higher Education Our final analysis focuses on the composition of African Americans enrolled in higher education. Essentially, this analysis answers the question: Who are African Americans enrolled in higher education? Our focus will be on two composition variables: age and poverty status. 3.3.1. Age Fig. 3 presents the age distribution of African American males and females enrolled in higher education by age (18–24 years) for 2007. Data refer



Fig. 3.

Enrollment Rates: African Americans by Sex and Age, 2007.

to the proportion of a specific age group enrolled in higher education. For example, the 18-year-old enrollment rate refers to those enrolled as a proportion of all 18 year olds. Among African American males, the highest enrollment rates are to be found among those aged 19 and 20 years, both having rates of 37 and 36%, respectively, of all males within these age groups. The lowest rates are to be found among the two oldest age groups – 23 and 24 year olds. In terms of gender differences, African American females, at all age groups, are enrolled at greater rates than their male counterparts. The largest enrollment differentials are to be found among 19 year olds (a differential of about 14 percentage points), and the lowest differential is among 22 and 24 year olds, where the differentials are approximately 7 percentage points for both age groups. Note how the patterns tend to mirror one another; the only difference is the decline in enrollment over age. So we might conclude that age, at least ages 18–24 years, does not have an impact on enrollment. 3.3.2. Poverty Status Theoretically, we would expect the enrollment rates of African Americans, both males and females, to be affected by their level of poverty. Specifically, we expect those in poverty to be less likely than their counterparts who are above the poverty standard to be enrolled in higher education. Data in Table 7 do not support such a proposition.

The Demography of African American Males in Higher Education

Table 7. Poverty Level


Enrollment by Poverty Level. Males



At or below poverty Above Poverty

30 27

40 38

35 32




Original computations. Source: Alexander et al. (2008).

It appears that males at or below the poverty level are more likely to be enrolled than males above the poverty standard. Indeed, 30% of African American males at or below the poverty level are enrolled in higher education, while 27% of males above the poverty level are enrolled. Though there is only a 3 percentage point difference, the fact that those in poverty enroll at higher rates than their economically better off counterparts is surprising. The same pattern is present for females. One would expect the reverse. Gender differences are interesting. As has been the case throughout our analysis, females are more likely to be enrolled. Among African Americans who are at or below the poverty threshold, 30% of males are enrolled and 40% of females are enrolled. Of those not in poverty, the rates for males and females are 27 and 38%, respectively. Once again we see that poverty status works in a direction that is unexpected. One possible structural reason may be that those in poverty have at their disposal government programs that help them attend institutions of higher education, and such programs may not be available to those not in poverty. At the individual level, it may be that young people in poverty are more motivated to attend college than their economically better off counterparts. So the combination of structural (including social structural factors, such as teacher expectations and students’ responses to educational inequities) and individual factors works together to positively impact enrollment in institutions of higher education for African Americans in poverty. This is clearly a finding that needs more research.

4. CONCLUSION African American males are not enrolling in higher education at the same rate as African American females. This is not to say they are disappearing



from higher education, as some have intimated. Rather, the rate of increase of African American males enrolling in higher education has been comparatively slow. There are numerous reasons why this has been the case. Chief among these reasons are their performance and attainment. In terms of educational performance, there is evidence that African American males do not achieve at levels equal to that of African American females (see NAEP Reading scores:, and poor academic performance in high school negates their chances of enrolling in college. Other factors include dropping out of school before earning a high school diploma, involvement in the justice system, and pursuing careers in the Armed Forces (see But before we attempt creating programs that would increase the enrollment rate of African American males, we need to better understand the problem. One framework that would lead to better understanding is demographic. A demographic framework would allow us to examine a number of important issues related to enrollment in institutions of higher education, and those issues are captured by three particular concepts: size, distribution, and composition. In this chapter, we have focused on the demography of African Americans in higher education. Specifically, we have looked at their enrollment rates in institutions of higher education in terms of size, distribution, and composition. African American females do, indeed, enroll at rates higher than African American males, but the gap varies by several important demographic factors. These include: Census region and metropolitan status. Indeed, enrollment differences were much narrower in the New England region and in the western part of the United States. This raises an interesting question about why this should be the case. What is it about these regions that leads to greater enrollment among African American males? We also found that enrollment among African American males was greater in the suburbs than in rural or inner city areas. Again, why is this occurring? In terms of composition, we note that age and poverty status are also related to enrollment. For all age levels (18–24 years), enrollment declines with age and there seems to be some attenuation of enrollment differentials with age. It may be that African American males are taking longer to complete college or that they enroll later in life than do African American females. Further research is needed. Poverty is related to enrollment, yet females still have significantly higher enrollment rates whether they are in poverty or not. Yet, we find that males from impoverished backgrounds are more likely to enroll than males who are not from impoverished backgrounds. Though the difference is only 3 percentage points, it is significant

The Demography of African American Males in Higher Education


and raises the issue as to why males from better economic situations are not enrolling at higher rates. In conclusion, while African American males are not enrolling in higher education at rates equal to those of African American females, our analysis strongly suggests that more research is needed because the problem is more complex than it might appear to be. Age, economic status, and place of residence create significant variation that needs to be examined in greater detail.

NOTES 1. Status dropout rates are based on two questions: Are you a high school graduate? Are you currently in school? If the answer is no to both, then a person is a status school dropout. 2. For a history of grade retention practices in the United States, see Owings and Magliaro (1998). 3. Data from Sabol and Couture (2008). 4. See Shryock and Siegel (1976). 5. The table is used for heuristic purposes only. It is meant to get readers thinking about how demographic issues affect education. 6. In 2007, the percentage of African American females aged 18–24 years enrolled in higher education (both undergraduate and graduate) was 38.6, and 27.8% for African American males of the same age. In terms of African Americans enrolled in higher education by gender, females accounted for 57.3% of African Americans enrolled in higher education in 2007. These are original computations from the 2007 American Community Survey by the first author. 7. The two unidentified areas are presented for heuristic purposes. We wanted to insure that all African Americans aged 18–24 years were displayed. Data from both these areas are interesting and may deserve further research.

REFERENCES Alexander, T., Fitch, C. A., Goeken, R., Hall, P. K., King, M., & Ronnander, C. (2008). Integrated public use microdata series: Version 4.0 (machine-readable database). Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Population Center (producer and distributor). Available at: Anderson, E. (2000). Code of the street: Decency, violence, and the moral life of the inner city. New York: W.W. Norton. Cummings, J. (1986). Empowering minority students: A framework for intervention. Harvard Education Review, 56, 18–36. Davis, J. E. (1994). College in black and white: Campus environment and academic achievement of African-American males. Journal of Negro Education, 63, 620–633.



Davis, J. E. (1998). Campus climate, gender, and achievement of African-American college students. African American Research Perspectives, 1, 40–41. Eccles, J. S., Adler, T. F., Futterman, R., Goff, S. B., Kaczala, C. M., Meece, J. L., & Midgley, C. (1983). Expectancies, values, and academic behavior. In: J. T. Spence (Ed.), Achievement and achievement motivation (pp. 75–146). San Francisco: Freeman. Eccles, J. S., Adler, T. F., & Meece, J. L. (1984). Sex differences in achievement: A test of alternate theories. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 26–43. Eccles, J. S., & Wigfield, A. (1995). In the mind of the actor: The structure of adolescents’ achievement task values and expectancy related beliefs. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 215–225. Ford, D. V. (1996). Reversing underachievement among gifted Black students: Promising practices and programs. New York: Teachers College Press. Hauser, R. M., Pager, D. I., & Simmons, S. J. (2000). Race-ethnicity, social background, and grade retention. Madison: Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Lee, C. C., & Bailey, D. (1997). Counseling African American men and boys. In: C. C. Lee (Ed.), Multicultural issues in counseling: New approaches to diversity (2nd ed., pp. 123–154). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association. McDermott, R. P. (1987). The exploration of minority school failures, again. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 18, 761–764. Owings, W. A., & Magliaro, S. (1998). Grade retention: A history of failure. ERIC Clearinghouse (EJ5070163). Washington, DC: US Department of Education. Sabol, W. J., & Couture, H. (2008). Prison inmates at mid-year 2007. Bureau of Justice Statistics bulletin. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice. Shryock, H. S., & Siegel, J. S. (1976). The methods and materials of demography. New York: Academic Press. Stelle, C. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52, 613–629. Stevenson, H., Chen, C., & Uttal, D. (1990). Beliefs and achievement: A study of Black, White, and Hispanic children. Child Development, 61, 508–523. Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (1992). The development of achievement task values: A theoretical analysis. Development Review, 12, 265–310.

THE PARTICIPATION RATES OF BLACK MALES IN HIGHER EDUCATION: 1968–2007 Marie-Claude E. Jipguep, Roderick J. Harrison and Florence B. Bonner OVERVIEW Higher proportions of females than males currently attain tertiary education in the United States where completing high school is the prerequisite for gaining access to postsecondary education (Buchmann, DiPrete, & McDaniel, 2008; Horn & Premo, 1995). Since 1970, women went from being the minority to the majority of the United States undergraduate population, increasing their representation in higher education from 42 percent of undergraduates in 1970 to 56 in 2001 (Freeman, 2004; Peter & Horn, 2005). Although there were more men than women ages 18–24 in the United States (15 vs. 14.2 million) in 2004, the male/female ratio on college campuses was 43–57, a reversal from the late 1960s and well beyond the nearly even splits of the mid-1970s (Marklein, 2005). Male–female ratios differ among colleges, with some US institutions now having ratios approaching two-thirds of women. It is projected that by 2010, 9.4 million women will be enrolled in college, compared with only 6.8 million men, a ratio of about 41 men to 59 women (NACUFS, 2007).

Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 83–97 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006009




GENDER, RACE/ETHNICITY AND PARTICIPATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION College enrollment ratios in the United States also differ among ethnic groups. Among African-American college students, two-thirds are women, and the fast-growing Hispanic enrollment is 60% female. Only among AsianAmericans college students are women are outnumbered by men. Over the 2004–2015 period, the projected enrollment growth for women of 18% should greatly outstrip the projected growth of 10% in the enrollment of men (NACUFS, 2007). Enrollment projections to 2013 also indicate that women will continue to outpace men in completions in the foreseeable future (Gerald & Hussar, 2003; Peter & Horn, 2005). Students who enroll in college directly after high school have higher rates of overall college enrollment, persistence in college, and graduation and since 1982, women have outpaced men in college graduation rates. In 2004, women received 58 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in the United States, compared to only 35 percent in 1960 (Buchmann et al., 2008; Bozick & DeLuca, 2005; Horn & Premo, 1995). Several arguments have been put forward to explain how and why women are succeeding ‘‘at the expense’’ of males, particularly among African Americans in the United States (Bonner, Jipguep, & Harrison, forthcoming; Cohen & Nee, 2000). The simplest of these arguments posits that, in the aggregate, women, and African-American women in particular, make up a larger fraction of college students because their male counterparts are less likely to enroll in college (Anderson & NBER, 2002). Research shows that a portion of Black male underrepresentation in higher education is explained by inequities in high school graduation rates. According to the 2000 Census, 74.3 percent of 18–24-year-old Black males in the US population were high school graduates, compared to 86.4 percent of White men and 80.2 percent of black women in the same age group (Harper, 2006). There is consistency across the literature in accounting for the high attrition levels of Black males in higher education. Some explanations have proposed societal discrimination, inadequate precollege preparation, cultural factors, and genetic deficits as determinants of decreased participation in higher education. Others have rationalized that early experiences in college may account for some of the difficulties Black males experience in completing higher education (Reid, 2007). It is important to note that the gender gap in college attendance and graduation has reversed not only in the United States. Almost all countries in the OECD now have more women than men in college and have had a

Participation Rates of Black Males in Higher Education


growing gender gap among undergraduates that favors women (Goldin, Katz, & Kumienzo, 2006; OECD, 2005). Of the 17 OECD countries with consistent tertiary schooling enrollment data for 1985–2002, only four – France, Portugal, Sweden, and the United States – had a ratio of male-tofemale undergraduates that was below one in 1985. By 2002, the enrollment of women in higher education exceeded that of men in 11 more countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom (Goldin et al., 2006).

EXISTING EXPLANATIONS OF THE GENDER GAP IN HIGHER EDUCATION In the United States, much research has examined the reversal in gender advantage, and it has been noted that gender differences in college enrollment and degree attainment are not uniform across all racial/ethnic groups (Peter & Horn, 2005; King, 2000; Horn, Peter, & Rooney, 2002). Findings show larger gaps in rates of college enrollment and completion between Black males and females than among Hispanics and Whites. This gap has often been couched in the wider context of several indicators (i.e., employment, health, and incarceration measures) on which the relative status of Black males has long been poor or deteriorating. According to Bonner et al. (forthcoming), the higher female to male ratios for blacks (1.8–1 in 2004) reflect at least two additional factors that have received too little attention and merit further analysis. First, about half of the gender differential among blacks seems attributable to the enrollment rates of black women over age 25 in institutions of higher learning. Second, the ratios are even lower (in the 1.2–1 range) when one examines percentages of 14–24 and of 25–29 year olds who attended or completed college. In an earlier analysis of published tabulations from the 1968 to 2006 October School Enrollment Supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS), we showed that for every Black male enrolled in a degree-granting institution in 2004, there were 1.8 black females. However, among 18–24year olds, only 1.34 Black women were enrolled in degree-granting institutions for every Black male in 2004, and 1.33 in 2006 (Bonner et al., forthcoming). This suggests that some of the gender gaps in the stock of Black females and males enrolled at any point in time may reflect differences in the flows of Black women and men into and out of degree-granting



institutions. In important senses, the problem is not specific to African Americans or African-American males. This paper will show that the gender gap in rates of college enrollment and completion among African Americans is consistent with, though much larger than, similar gaps among all major racial and ethnic groups in the United States. This analysis tracks the enrollment and completion rates of White, Black, and Hispanic males and females in higher education over nearly four decades to demonstrate that the gender gap pattern holds within all groups. Our major aims are to advance the current literature on the significance of gender in participation in higher education and educational attainment, and to show that the gendering of enrollment and completion rates is universal and not restricted to particular racial/ethnic groups. We are interested in what the data reveals about three fundamental questions: (1) To what degree are trends in the gender gap in enrollment and completion among Blacks similar to corresponding gaps among Whites and Hispanics in the United States? (2) To what degree is the Black male–female gap distinctive in its size or trajectory? (3) What implications do the similarities and differences have for contextualizing and understanding the gender gap in Black college enrollment and completion within much larger national and international trends, and eventually in the more specific locus of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)? We examine the college enrollment and completion rates of 14–34-yearold Black, White, and Hispanic high school graduates by gender from 1968 to 2007, using data from the October School Enrollment Supplement to the monthly CPS for each year. The CPS is a nationally representative sample of approximately 60,000 households conducted monthly under a joint agreement of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of the Census. The CPS constitutes the official source for the employment and unemployment statistics issued each month. In addition to the basic survey, which collects data on labor force participation and employment questions, the CPS includes a monthly supplement devoted to a specific social or economic characteristic. For example, the Annual Social and Economic Survey (once the Annual Demographic Survey) is conducted each March, the Job Tenure and Mobility Survey each January, and the Voter Registration and Participation Survey in November of years with Congressional and Presidential elections. The October supplement has been devoted to questions on school enrollment and completion. We utilize CPS October supplement files for 1968–1993 downloaded from the Inter-University Consortium for Social and Political Research (ICSPR) housed at the University of Michigan. This includes a set of uniform files for

Participation Rates of Black Males in Higher Education


1968–1990 created by Robert Hauser (ICPSR, 2007). These files were imported into SPSS to recode, construct and tabulate variables. We created the tabulations needed from the 1994 through 2007 files directly from the DataFerrett system accessible from the main page of the CPS (US Census Bureau, 2008). Graphs were generated by importing the tabulations from SPSS and DataFerrett into Microsoft Excel. A major challenge in analyzing and interpreting trends in school enrollment and completion is that until 1992, education completed was measured in years of school attended and completed. Researchers had to assume that respondents who completed 12 years of school had high school degrees, or that those who completed 16 years of schooling had earned a bachelor’s degree. That important and growing segments of the student population took more than 4 years to complete high school or college and that others completed these in less time was well recognized, however, and in 1992, the CPS question was changed to ask whether the respondent had earned a high school diploma, an Associate’s Arts degree, a Bachelor’s degree or a master’s doctoral or professional degree. We follow the convention of assuming that those reporting prior to 1992 that respondents had completed 12 years of schooling were high school graduates and those with 16 years or more of education had earned BAs. There are no sharp changes in the enrollment and completion trends between 1991 and 1992, suggesting that the assumption is reasonable for the purposes of this analysis.

GENDER, RACE/ETHNICITY, ENROLLMENT, AND COMPLETION RATES Fig. 1 presents 3-year moving averages (except for 1968 and 2007, where the percentage is a 2-year average with the adjacent year) of the percentage of 14–34-year-old male and female high school graduates who were enrolled in or had completed college. The graph helps in identifying the key trends by gender in the college enrollment and completion patterns of Black, White, and Hispanic high school graduates. Fig. 1 shows that the percentages of 14–34-year-old Black male high school graduates who were enrolled in or had completed college exceeded the corresponding percentages for Black females from 1968 until about 1980 when a crossover occurred. In each year since then, and higher percentages of Black females than male high school graduates in the 14–34-year-old age group have been enrolled in or completed college.










1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007


White Male

Black Male

Hispanic Male

White Female

Black Female

Hispanic Female

Fig. 1. Percentage of 14–34-Year Male and Female High School Graduates who had Completed or were Enrolled in Degree-Granting Institutions, by Race and Ethnicity, 1968–2007.

The percentage of both male and female Black high school graduates who had completed or were enrolled in degree-granting institutions increased over most years between 1968 and 1976. Between 1976 and 1985, however, enrollment and completion rates for both black males and black females declined with rates falling more rapidly for Black males after 1985, and rates for the two genders remained comparable. After 1994, however, enrollment and completion rates for Black women started to increase more rapidly than for Black males and this continued until about 2004 (see Fig. 1). The percentage of Black female high school graduates who were enrolled in or had completed college increased by a third, while the corresponding percentage for black me increased by only about 5 percent. This in turn generated the dramatic increases in the ratio of black women to men enrolled in or having completed college that has fueled the

Participation Rates of Black Males in Higher Education


controversies over Black male participation in higher education. This ratio, which, between 1987 and 1993 averaged about 1.10 Black women for each Black male who had enrolled in or had completed college, fell to 1.04 in 1994, and was still only 1.08 in 1996 (see Fig. 2). By 2003, this ratio had mushroomed to 1.32 where it remained through 2005. These trends seem to confirm the need to ask why did increases in the percentages of Black males attending or completing college between 1994 and 2004 lag so far behind the much more dramatic gains of Black women? Some authors seek answers to these and related questions in barriers and problems that place Black males at the bottom of a wide range of educational and economic indicators (Bonner et al., forthcoming). Fig. 1 provides very strong evidence that answers should be sought in the strikingly similar trends among White 14–34-year-old high school graduates since 1.40 White










1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007


Fig. 2. Ratio of 14–34-Year-Old Male and Female High School Graduates who Completed or were Attending Degree-Granting Institutions, by Race and Ethnicity, 1968–2007.



1987. The 3-year moving averages in Fig. 1 show that in 1968, only about one quarter (25.6 percent) of white female high school graduates attended or completed college, compared to over 40 percent (41.8 percent) of White male high school graduates. White women increased their percentages enrolled in or having competed college at a rapid pace, however, while the percentages for white males dropped through most years (1974–1976 excepted) between 1968 and 1986. By 1990, White women had caught up with the percentage of White male high school graduates who had attended or completed college, at about 40 percent. Between 1994 and 2004, White women increased their percentages attending or completing college by more than 10 percent, from 42.6 to 52.8 percent, while White male enrollment and completion grew only 3.4 percent from 42.5 to 46.4 percent. As a result, the female to male college enrollment and completion ratio among White high school graduates grew from parity (1.00) in 1994 to 1.14 in 2004, and to about 1.15 in 2006 and 2007. This gender gap in the increase in college attendance and completion among Whites was not as large as that between Blacks between 1994 and 2004, when Black female enrollment grew by 33.3 percent and Black male enrollment only 5.1 percent. However, the more rapid acceleration in the college attendence and completion of White women than men began in 1987, years before the more rapid gains for Black women than men began in 1994, and continued beyond 2004, when Black male and female rates began to converge. Over this longer period, the percentage increases in college attendence and completion of Black (42.9) and White (48.4) female high school graduates are comparable, while the growth for Black men (33.7 percent) was actually larger, as percentage of the rate in 1987, than that of White men (21.0 percent). The average annual percentage point growth rates for Black and White men were statistically equal (0.41 and 0.43 percentage points per year, respectively), while average annual growth for White women from 1987 to 2007 (0.88 percentage points per year) was almost one third higher than that for Black women (0.60 percentage points per year). What does this tell us about the size and trajectory of the gender gap in Black college enrollment and completion? The 3-year moving averages in Fig. 1 suggests that college enrollment and completion rates began to consistently increase more rapidly for women than for men not only among Blacks (most recently in 1994) but also for Whites (as early as the data is available, beginning in 1968, and then accelerating from about 1987 through 2007) and for Hispanics (beginning in 1989; see Fig. 3). These increases have produced corresponding growth in the ratio of females to males in each group who have attended or completed college. The increase in the ratio has


Participation Rates of Black Males in Higher Education 30.0 White Male

Black Male

Hispanic Male

White Female

Black Female

Hispanic Female






1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007


Fig. 3. Percent of 14–34-Year-Old Male and Female High School Graduates who Completed or more Years of College or BA/Advanced Degree, by Race and Ethnicity, 1968–2007.

been most steady for Whites between 1968 and 2007. The upsurge has been more jagged for Blacks and Hispanics (see Fig. 3), reflecting perhaps the greater sampling variability associated with smaller sample sizes as well as actual periods where the ratios fall or surge. Some of the largest gender gaps for Blacks and also for Hispanics occur in these surges, and then fall back toward an average higher than, but parallel to, that for Whites. The parallelism is important. The Black female to Male college enrollment and completion ratio has consistently been higher than that for Whites, and grew more rapidly for than the ratio for Whites between 1972 and 1982. This would produce ever larger and hence more distinctive gender gaps among Whites than among Blacks. The Black gender gap declined between 1982 and 1987, and again between 1988 and 1995, while the gender gap for Whites continued to increase. As a result, the net growth rates over the period were comparable – the gender gap has not grown more rapidly among Black high school graduates than among White, and the gender gap



is, and has remained, larger primarily because Black females had college enrollment and completion rates in 1968 much closer to those of Black males than the corresponding rates for White females and males. To the extent that such a parallelism holds and continues, each group will reach parity several years after the other (Blacks first in 1979, Hispanics in 1989, and Whites in 1994), and then female to male gaps will grow, becoming as large as the Black gap (since it was the first to reach parity) about as many years later as it took for a group to reach parity. The increase in the Hispanic female to male ratio seems more rapid than those of Blacks or Whites from 1972 to 1985, from 1988 to 1998, and again from 2001 to 2007. If this does not represent sample variations that might be counterbalanced in later periods, one can expect the gender gap to soon become larger among Hispanic than among Black high school graduates.

Trends in College Completion Concerns have been expressed about whether Black males who attend college are as likely to complete it with a degree as compared to Whites and Black females. It has been suggested that Black Americans have almost reached parity with Whites in term of total enrollments and full-time students enrollments in higher education (JBHE, 2006). Recent research, however, shows that in 2003/2004, a staggering 45% of African-American males did not receive diplomas or graduate on time (Holzman, 2006). On the road to graduation, Black males face inequities in performance and discipline in the classroom, and are 5.6 times more likely to be classified as mentally retarded (usually a score below 70–75 on an IQ test) than enrolled into gifted/talented programs (Foundation for the Mid South, 2007). The Schott Foundation for Public Education’s The 2006 State Report Card stated that Black males are also suspended or expelled from schools at a little over twice the rate than their White peers, are three times more likely to be considered for special education classes and three times less likely to be enrolled in gifted or advanced classes than their white counterparts (Holzman, 2006; Foundation for the Mid South, 2008). When the aspirations of young African-American males are stunted and they are grossly overrepresented in special education classes, they will remain unprepared and ill equipped to perform well on college admittance tests. African Americans who attend colleges or universities have an extremely high incompletion rate (Foundation for the Mid South, 2008). Over half of Black education students do not graduate within 6 years of enrollment and

Participation Rates of Black Males in Higher Education


have lower overall graduation rates than their White peers – about 20 percentage points lower (Carey, 2008; Foundation for the Mid South, 2008). The statistics we have analyzed on college enrollment and completion could mask gender gaps in college completion among blacks, or relative deterioration in the completion rates of Black males. To test for this possibility, we examine college completion rates separately for Black, White, and Hispanic male and female high school graduates in this section. As noted in the methodology section, the CPS only asked years of education before 1992. We, therefore, must estimate college completion for 1968–1991 by assuming that those with four or more years of college have earned a degree. From 1992 to 2007, the question directly asks whether the respondent earned a BA or advanced degree. The data reveals interesting fluctuations in the percentages of 14–34-yearold Black males and females who completed 4 or more years of college, earned a bachelor’s or an advanced degree. While the gender gap favored males in 1968 (8.9), a small reversal in achievement occured between 1969 (6.1 vs. 5.6) and 1971 (7.8 vs. 7.6; see Fig. 3). The percentages of Black males completing college again exceeded those for Black women from 1972 to 1978; however, for the 8 years following 1979, the percentages of Black females completing higher education was higher than the Black male percentages. As of 1992, the gender gap favored Black females, and their completion rates have consistently risen since then. From 1994 to 2004, the percentages of Black females completing college increased by more than four points (11.2–15.2) as compared to that of males (9.9–11.8). It is important to note that the gender differential in completion rate decreased in 2004, when the percentage of Black males who completed 4 or more years or college or BA/Advanced began to increase. Differences in Black female and male completion rates rose after 1979, but remained small until 1999/2000 when not only Black, but also White female–male completion rates begin to grow (see Fig. 3). This is what would be expected following the increased enrollment and completion gaps beginning after 1994 (see Fig. 1). If retention rates do not change, one would expect female completion rates to begin growing 4 years after enrollment rates began rising as those boosting the enrollment levels complete their degrees. Fig. 4 shows that there were no changes in the percentages that completion represented of enrollments, making changes in retention rates unlikely. This is especially clear among Whites, where completions remain at an almost constant 50 percent of enrollments and completions. There is more fluctuation amongst Blacks and Hispanics, but no consistent increase or decrease in the percentage that completions represent of enrollments and completions (see Fig. 4).











1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007


White Male

Black Male

Hispanic Male

White Female

Black Female

Hispanic Female

Fig. 4. Male and Female High School Graduates who Completed 4 or more Years of College or BA/Advanced Degree as a Percent of those who Ever Attended College, by Race and Ethnicity, 1968–2007.

One can firmly conclude that college completion statistics for Blacks, and also for Whites and Hispanics, are consistent with the enrollment and completion statistics analyzed earlier in the paper, and that the latter did not hide or obscure gender gaps in college completion among Blacks or the other groups. We might also note, however, that the gender gap in completion rates between Black males and females is dwarfed by the gap between the college completion rates of Blacks and Hispanics compared to those of Whites. Raising Black and Hispanic completion rates to the levels of Whites still represents by far the single greatest means for improving educational attainments of Black and Hispanic high school graduates.

Participation Rates of Black Males in Higher Education


CONCLUSION The much higher growth in the percentages of Black female than of Black male 14–34-year-old high school graduates who attended or had completed college, especially between 1994 and 2004, fueled and reinforced concerns about the relative decline of Black men on a wide range of educational, social, and economic measures. The proclivity to link the trend with others affecting Black men and women is natural and understandable. However, we believe that strong evidence, some of which is presented here, can be marshaled to suggest that the gender gap in college enrollment and completion among Blacks is similar in trajectory to that of Whites in the past two decades, and that the gap is larger among Blacks primarily because Black women were historically closer to Black men in their college enrollment and completion levels. In the 20 years after 1987, when the rate of increase in White women’s college enrollment and completion began to accelerate, the rates of increase for White women have been larger than even those for Black women, while the enrollment and completion rates for White and Black men are much closer. Reasons for the growth in the gap in college enrollment and completions among Blacks are thus better sought in national trends affecting Whites, Hispanics, and others, and indeed in international trends toward higher female than male completion rates in many developed nations. Finally, we have argued that it is important to understand the gap in Black female and male college enrollment and completion in the context of national trends. However, we think it is at least as important to note that this does not minimize the real challenges confronting institutions of higher learning, and especially HBCUs, confronted with large and growing gender gaps in their enrollments. Because it provides data on high school graduates in a cohort who have attended or completed college even if they are not currently enrolled in a degree-granting program, the October CPS data used in this paper provides a more complete picture of the educational experiences of high school graduates. At the same time, however, educators at institutions of higher learning have student bodies comprised, in a given year, of those enrolled in the institutions, and not of those who have completed their degrees or left such institutions without degrees. To the extent that the gender composition of classrooms in different disciplines and also of campus activities affects the quality of interchange and education that students of each gender receive, gender gaps of the size observed in current enrollments in these institutions, particularly among Black students, might well be causes for greater



legitimate concern – albeit focused on different challenges – than our analyses of national trends in college enrollment and completion might suggest. We certainly do not want analyses of national trends to divert attention from the potentially serious implications of gender differences in enrollment at institutions of higher learning, but instead hope that these analyses help focus these issues more sharply and effectively on the true challenges.

REFERENCES Anderson, P. A. & NBER. (2002). Where the boys no longer are: Recent trends in US College Enrollment Patterns. Retrieved December 12, 2008 from Bpmaweb/BEJEAP.pdf Bonner, F. B., Jipguep-Akhtar, M.-C., & Harrison, R. J. (Forthcoming). Educational attainments of US Black males and females: 1971–2003. The International Encyclopedia of Education. Elsevier. Bozick, R., & DeLuca, S. (2005). Better late than never? Delayed enrollment in the high school to college transition. Social Forces, 84(1), 527–550. Buchmann, C., DiPrete, T. A., & McDaniel, A. (2008). Gender inequalities in education. Annual Review of Sociology, 34, 319–337. Carey, K. (April 2008). Graduation rates watch: Making minority students success a priority. Washington, DC: Education Sector. Cohen, C. J., & Nee, C. E. (2000). Educational attainment and sex differentials in African American communities. American Behavioral Scientist, 43(7), 1159–1206. Foundation of the Mid South. (2008). Black male: Why the Mid South cannot afford to ignore the disparities facing its Black men and boys. Available at: Documents/Black_Male_web.pdf Freeman, C. E. (2004). Trends in educational equity for girls and women (US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Gerald, D. E., & Hussar, W. J. (2003). Projections of education statistics to 2013 (NCES 2005013) (US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Goldin, C., Katz, L. F., & Kumienzo, I. (2006). The homecoming of American college women: The reversal of the college gender gap. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(4), 133–156. Harper, S. R. (2006). Black male students at public flagship universities in the US status, trends, and implications for policy and practice. Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute. Washington, DC. Retrieved November 17, 2008 from http://www. Holzman, M. (2006). Public education & Black male students: The 2006 state report card (Schott Educational Inequity Index). Cambridge, MA: The Schott Foundation for Public Education. Horn, L., Peter, K., & Rooney, K. (2002). Profile of undergraduates in US postsecondary institutions: 1999–2000 (NCES 2002-168) (US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.

Participation Rates of Black Males in Higher Education


Horn, L. J., & Premo, M. D. (1995). Profile of undergraduates in US postsecondary education institutions: 1992–93, with an essay on undergraduates at risk (NCES 96-237) (US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). (2007). Current population surveys: Uniform October files, 1968–1990. Available at: 10.3886/ICPSR06126 King, E. J. (2000). Gender equity in higher education. Are males students at a disadvantage? Washington, DC: American Council on Education, Center for Policy Analysis. Marklein, M. D. (2005, October 19). College gender gap widens: 57% are women. USA Today. Retrieved from Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. (2005). Education online database. Retrieved from Peter, K., & Horn, L. (2005). Gender differences in participation and completion of undergraduate education and how they have changed over time (NCES 2005-169) (US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Reid, K. (2007). Black gold: Understanding the relationships between racial identity, selfefficacy, institutional integration and academic achievement of Black males in research universities. Ph.D. Dissertation, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (JBHE). (2006). Break out the champagne: Let’s celebrate some important news on the progress of Blacks in higher education. Retrieved July 1, 2008 from The National Association of College and Food Services (NACUFS). (2007, December 22). Trends in higher education pose questions for foodservice. A report prepared by Millenia Consulting, L.L.C., for the National Association of College & University Food Services Reading Material for the NACFUS Visioning Summit. Retrieved January 13, 2008 (2008, March 10) from Pre-conferenceReport3-10-2008.pdf US Census Bureau. (2008). Current Population Survey (CPS) – a joint effort between the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. Available at:

THE EDUCATIONAL STATUS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES IN THE 21ST CENTURY$ Antoine M. Garibaldi ABSTRACT This article assesses the educational attainment of african american males between the 1990s and early 2000s. Beginning with a summary of a 1987– 1988 study conducted by the author on african american males in the new orleans public schools, national data are provided on the high school graduation rates of african american males and females, as well as trends in their enrollment and degree completion at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional levels. The data show a growing educational disparity between african american women and men in all higher education institutions, but also in public and private historically black colleges and universities. The author offers recommendations to improve the performance, enrollment and graduation rates of african american males in order to close the current college gender gap.


Reprinted with permission from The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 77, No. 3, pp. 324–333. r 2007, The Journal of Negro Education,

Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 99–112 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006010




Since the mid-1980s, the educational performance and progression of African American boys and men have received an extensive amount of local and national attention. The primary reason for this group being singled out was due to the fact that on most local and national measures of academic achievement, African American boys as a group were underachieving significantly. Additionally and strongly correlated with those low scores of academic performance, these young men usually had the highest rates of suspensions, expulsions, non-promotions, dropouts, special education placements, and the lowest rates of secondary school graduation and gifted and talented assignments in the majority of the more than 16,000 school districts across the country. Unfortunately, the situation has not changed considerably in the first decade of the 21st century even though Black males have made modest educational progress over the last two decades. This article focuses on several of the major issues that have been raised by this author with respect to Black males’ educational progress over the last 25 years, and it will include a review of the most recent and available college enrollment and graduation data of African American males and females. A steadily growing gender gap exists among males and females of all races, but it has widened and become extraordinarily large for African American males and females over the last 25 years.

THE 1987–1988 NEW ORLEANS BLACK MALE STUDY Twenty years ago in 1987, I was invited by the New Orleans Public Schools’ Board to serve as chairperson of a task force of New Orleans educators and community leaders who would meet to review the status of African American males in the local school system. After accepting to take on this major pro bono project, I decided to model the task force’s work on similar procedures that were used by the 1981–1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education, where I served as a staff member while working at the US Department of Education’s National Institute of Education. As the Chair of Xavier University of Louisiana’s Department of Education at that time, and as a former Director/Principal of the St. Paul Urban League Street Academy in the mid-1970s during my graduate school years at the University of Minnesota, I approached the task force role from the perspective that the only way to bring about realistic solutions and remedies to the poor academic performance, progression, and behavioral issues of African American boys would be to analyze the most available data and obtain input from school personnel who interacted with these young men

Educational Status of African American Males in the 21st Century


and other male and female students daily. Additionally, four public hearings were held, and the local community was given the opportunity to provide their perspectives and comments on the issue through an informational survey that was included in several thousand copies of the local newspaper, The Times-Picayune, in the Winter of 1988. Educating Black Male Youth: A Moral and Civic Imperative (Garibaldi, 1988) was the title of the 1988 final report, and a summary of the task force’s findings and recommendations were published exclusively in The Journal of Negro Education (Garibaldi, 1992). Because it was my intent that all of the nation’s public and private school systems in the country would have access to the school district’s data and analyses, as well as the surveys developed for the students, teachers, parents, and local citizens, several school districts, particularly Milwaukee (WI) and Prince Georges County (MD), replicated the study and arrived at the same results with respect to the below average performance of African American males within their respective geographical areas. A summary of a few of the studies’ more notable findings are presented in the next section.

SURVEY RESULTS OF STUDENTS, TEACHERS, AND PARENTS During the 1986–1987 school year, African American males in the New Orleans Public School System accounted for 65% of total suspensions, 80% of all expulsions, 58% of non-promotions, and 45% of dropouts. Black males, however, accounted for only 43% of the school district’s student population, and Black females represented 44% of the school population (Garibaldi, 1988). While there is a widespread belief that Black males have low educational aspirations, the New Orleans Black Males study showed just the opposite. In the study’s survey of more than 2,250 African American males in the New Orleans school district, 95% reported that they expected to graduate from high school. But 40% responded that they believed their teachers did not set high enough goals for them, and 60% suggested that their teachers should push them harder. (It is important to note that a comparable-sized sample of Black females who were also surveyed in the study responded similarly to the boys on those items.) Adding strength to the belief that self-fulfilling and low expectations by educators may strongly affect how boys are taught and treated in schools, the results of a random survey of 500 teachers (318 of whom responded) indicated that almost 6 out



of every 10 of those teachers did not believe their Black male students would go to college (Garibaldi, 1988). That major finding became even more important and disconcerting when the analyses revealed that 60% of the teachers sampled taught in elementary schools, 70% of them had 10 or more years of experience, and 65% of those teachers were Black. That response provided added support to the teacher expectancy literature and confirmed for this author that no teachers are immune from holding negative, selffulfilling prophecies about the children whom they teach, even when the pupils are of the same race as the teacher. When parents were surveyed, their beliefs coincided with those of their children. More specifically, 80% of the 3,523 parents surveyed indicated that they believed their sons expected to go to college, a response that was twice as large as the teachers’ expectations (Garibaldi, 1988). But, despite those high college aspirations expressed by parents, one-fourth of the parents responded that they had never gone to their child’s school for parental conferences. Those two apparently countervailing results provided an opportunity for the school system to address this problem by adjusting the time when parental conferences are held in order to make it possible for more parents to attend. The parents’ positive college expectations of their boys and girls sent a different message to teachers who previously had believed that their absences from parental conferences were indications of a lack of interest in their children’s education. Rather, their responses indicated that parents were concerned about and interested in their children’s school performance. Overall, the New Orleans Black Male study’s findings were very revealing and instructive, and helped to clarify many misperceptions and erroneous beliefs about the educational interests and motivation of African American males and females in the New Orleans Public School System. At the end of this article, some of the recommendations that evolved from the task force’s study will be mentioned because they are just as relevant today for all school systems as they were 20 years ago.

MALES PERFORM BETTER THAN FEMALES ON THE SAT AND ACT As the reader will observe in the next section, the number of females enrolled in and graduating from college is significantly higher than males across all racial groups. However, despite the smaller number of males in

Educational Status of African American Males in the 21st Century


colleges and universities, SAT and ACT data demonstrate that males have performed better than females on these tests and achieved higher average scores in 2005–2007. Additionally, African American males have obtained higher scores than African American females in those same years. Table 1 provides the average SAT scores for all racial/ethnic groups in 2005–2007. Asian American students had the highest scores, Whites were a close second, and Blacks had the lowest scores on both tests. Even though the widespread perception and reality are that African American males underachieve in elementary and secondary schools, it is pleasantly surprising to learn that the average SAT scores for males overall, and Black males in particular, have been higher than both females overall and Black females, respectively, in 2005–2007. As Table 2 shows, the average SAT score in 2007 for all males was 1,037, compared with a national average of 1,017 for all students. The average SAT score for all females was 1,001. Black males’ average score was 866 on the SAT compared with an average score of 859 for Black females. On the ACT, which is also taken by many students Table 1.

Average SAT Scores by Racial/Ethnic Group: 2005, 2006, 2007.





American Indian Asian American Black Mexican American Puerto Rican White National Average

982 1,091 864 916 917 1,068 1,028

981 1,088 863 919 915 1,063 1,021

981 1,092 862 921 913 1,061 1,017

Source: The College Board. (2007).

Table 2. Average SAT Scores by Gender for all Students and Black Students: 2005, 2006, 2007. Gender/Ethnicity-Gender




All Males All Females Black Males Black Females

1,051 1,009 874 858

1,041 1,004 868 860

1,037 1,001 866 859

Source: The College Board (2007).



across the country and particularly in the Midwest, the South and in the West, the average ACT scores for African Americans in 2005–2007 have also been the lowest among all racial and ethnic groups. While the national average on the ACT in 2007 was 21.2, African Americans’ average score was 17.0, more than four points lower than the national average. ACT performance data by gender and within particular racial groups are not available from ACT, but it would be interesting to find out whether males’ scores on this national test are consistent with their scores on the SAT. As was the case with the SAT, Table 3 shows that the highest performing group was Asian American students with an average ACT score of 22.6; followed by White students at 22.1; American Indian students at 18.9; and 18.7 for Hispanic students. It is worth noting that American Indian students’ scores are very competitive for college admission even though many American Indian students do not go to college at the same rate as other students. While males have performed slightly better on the ACT in recent years, Table 4 shows that the average ACT score for all male testtakers in 2007 was 21.2, compared with females’ average score of 21.0. That

Table 3. Average ACT Scores by Racial/Ethnic Groups: 2005, 2006, 2007. Ethnicity




American Indian Asian American Black Hispanic White National Average

18.7 22.1 17.0 18.6 21.9 20.9

18.8 22.3 17.1 18.6 22.0 21.1

18.9 22.6 17.0 18.7 22.1 21.2

Source: American College Testing Program (2007).

Table 4. Average ACT Scores by Gender for All Students: 2005, 2006, 2007. Gender/Ethnicity-gender




All males All females

21.1 20.9

21.2 21.0

21.2 21.0

Source: American College Testing Program (2007).


Educational Status of African American Males in the 21st Century

average difference of two-tenths of a percentage point between males and females was also consistent with scores in 2005 and 2006.

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES OF AFRICAN AMERICAN 25- TO 29-YEAR OLDS Even though much of the attention on Black high school graduation rates is usually focused on 18- to 24-year-old groups, where Black males lagged Black females by more than 357,000 diplomas (Education Week, 2007), it is also important to look at the educational attainment percentages for 25- to 29year-old African American men and women, because the educational attainment percentages show a higher graduation rate for Black men in 2004. As Table 5 indicates, 91.3% of 25- to 29-year-old African American men completed 4 or more years of high school compared with 86.6% of African American women in 2004. In addition to the difference being only 4.7% between the two groups, the educational attainment percentage is actually higher for males compared with females. The latter is a very interesting statistic for 25- to 29-year-old Black males and Black females because the percentage of 18- to 24-year-old African American males and females who graduated from high school was an average of 10 points or lower. Thus, Table 5 suggests that it is very possible that African American males and females who do not graduate from high school with their 18- to 24year-old peer groups may in fact be graduating from high school either with an equivalency degree (i.e., GED) or by returning to high school in order to get the required credits for graduation. If either assumption is correct, this latter group of Black high school graduates is another untapped pool of individuals, particularly males, who are eligible to enroll in college but who may be overlooked by colleges and universities because of their age. More intensive research is needed over the next few years on this surprising high school graduation data result for 25- to 29-year-old African Americans. Table 5. Percent of 25- to 29-Year-Old African Americans who Completed 4 or More Years of High School: 1994, 1999, and 2004. Gender/Ethnicity-Gender




Black males Black females All Blacks

82.9 85.0 84.1

88.2 89.2 88.7

91.3 86.6 88.7

Source: American Council on Education (2006).



MORE AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN THAN MEN CONTINUE TO BE ENROLLED IN COLLEGE As I have expressed in several articles in The Journal of Negro Education and other periodicals, as well as chapters in books, over the last 20 years (Garibaldi, 1986, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2000), more Black women than men have been enrolling and graduating from college for almost a half century. Analyses of recent years’ data bring this issue into sharper focus. Table 6, for example, shows that a much higher number of African American women were enrolled in college in 1993, 1998, and 2003. The cumulative effect of each of those 10 years has meant that there has been a significant increase in the number of college-enrolled African American females. In 2003, a total of 1,266,107 African American women were enrolled in college compared with 686,615 African American men. That difference of 579,492 is 54% higher than the gap of 315,392 more African American women than men who were enrolled in college in 1993. Table 7 demonstrates that Blacks are not the only group with a postsecondary gender gap crisis because each racial/ethnic group’s college enrollment gap is quite large. The college gender gap for Whites was more Table 6.

African Americans Enrolled in College by Gender: 1993, 1998, 2003.

Gender/Ethnicity-Gender Black women (BW) Black men (BM) BW–BM differences




842,002 526,610 315,392

965,699 561,475 404,224

1,266,107 686,615 579,492

Source: American Council on Education (2006).

Table 7.

College Enrollment by Gender and Race/Ethnicity in 2003.





Whites Blacks Hispanic Asian American American Indian

5,947,756 1,266,107 943,167 531,422 99,960

4,591,166 686,615 659,317 455,611 63,037

1,356,590 579,492 283,850 75,811 36,923

Source: American Council on Education (2006).

Educational Status of African American Males in the 21st Century


than 1.3 million in 2003; Hispanics had a gap of 283,850; for Asian Americans it was 75,811; and for American Indians the difference was 36,923. Thus, the gap is large for every one of these racial/ethnic groups based on the latest data available from the United States Department of Education (American Council on Education, 2006).

AFRICAN AMERICAN ENROLLMENT AT HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES The African American college attendance gender gap also shows that at 2year colleges and universities there is a much larger number of African American males and females, many of whom do not transfer to a 4-year institution. In 2003, 842,817 African Americans were enrolled in 2-year institutions. That figure accounts for 43% of all 1,952,722 African Americans enrolled in college that year. Table 8 also demonstrates that 59,722 more African American females attended historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in 2003, or a 62:38% ratio of females to males. And a larger number of African American females attended both public and independent HBCUs than males. One positive observation from Table 8 is that the number of African American males enrolled in HBCUs in 2003 was slightly more than in 1993, after a decline of 6,115 in 1998. However, Black women increased their share in 2003 by more than 18,000. In 2003, 43,758 more African American females attended public HBCUs (see Table 9). At independent (private) HBCUs in 2003, there were almost 16,000 more African American women than African American men enrolled on those campuses (see Table 10). Moreover, Tables 9 and 10 show that the Table 8. Category All HBCUs Men Women Gap Ratio

African American Enrollment at All HBCUs by Gender: 1993, 1998, and 2003. 1993



227,518 91,804 135,714 43,910 60/40%

219,736 85,689 134,047 48,358 61/39%

245,494 92,886 152,608 59,722 62/38%

Source: American Council on Education (2006).



Table 9.

African American Enrollment at Public HBCUs by Gender: 1993, 1998, and 2003.





Total Men Women Gap

157,888 63,940 93,948 30,008

150,934 58,750 92,184 33,434

175,844 66,043 109,801 43,758

Source: American Council on Education (2006).

Table 10.

African American Enrollment at Independent HBCUs by Gender: 1993, 1998, and 2003.





Total Men Women Gap

69,630 27,864 41,766 13,902

68,802 26,939 41,863 14,924

69,650 26,843 42,807 15,964

Source: American Council on Education (2006).

number of African American females at both public and independent HBCUs has increased at greater rates in 1998 and 2003 compared with the declining numbers of African American males.

BLACK MEN ARE GRADUATING FROM UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE PROGRAMS AT LOWER NUMBERS THAN BLACK WOMEN As a forthcoming chapter by this author will outline in greater detail (Garibaldi, in press), women of all races are receiving more undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degrees than men. And, in the case of Black men and women, the graduation gap between these two groups continues to grow larger each year. Black women, for example, earned a larger number of bachelor’s degrees between 1993–1994 and 2003–2004 compared with Black men. Blacks overall had a 54.6% increase in bachelor’s degrees between 1993–1994 and 2003–2004 (from 82,007 to 126,768). But when the focus is placed on the gender disparity of those bachelor’s degrees, African

Educational Status of African American Males in the 21st Century


American women’s share increased sharply by 62.7% (from 51,985 in 1993– 1994 to 84,559 in 2003–2004). African American men, however, only increased their share of bachelor’s degrees by 40.6% (from 30,022 in 1993– 1994 to 42,209 in 2003–2004). Black women also earned more than twice the number of master’s degrees earned by Black men in 2003–2004 – 32,453 master’s degrees for Black females compared with 13,017 for Black males. With respect to doctoral degrees, Black women earned 1,780 doctorates in 2003–2004, compared with 946 doctorates for Black men. While the figure for men is slightly more than half of the number of doctorates for Black women, Black men actually increased their share of doctorates by almost 60% compared with the data for 1993. Lastly, despite some gains by Black men in obtaining firstprofessional degrees, Black women received 3,508 degrees compared with 2,127 for Black men in 2003–2004. The previous data convincingly show that the African American gender gaps in education are becoming larger each year at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels, and only a collaborative effort among schools, colleges and universities, local community agencies and the homes of these youth will reduce the size of these growing distinctions among Black men and women.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS The preceding data clearly show that African American boys and men are continuing to fall behind their female counterparts on most educational performance measures and also on graduation rates from high school and undergraduate and graduate programs. But even more significantly, these young men are losing educational and economic ground to just about all other racial and gender groups. Therefore, a few recommendations that may have a meaningful impact on this critical situation are offered here. First, the academic achievement of African American males must be reinforced at every level of the academic continuum so that these young men are not only motivated ‘‘to do well in school,’’ but also to pursue a college education. In today’s society, an inadequate amount of time is devoted to recognizing students’ academic achievement, while the celebration of athletes’ success is usually given more attention in schools. With a stronger emphasis on college preparation, more Black boys and young men will internalize the importance of attending college and its linkage to their longterm economic security. This emphasis on college must begin in the elementary grades and the responsibility for assuring that this happens must



be shared by teachers, counselors, and other school personnel. Parents must play an even more pivotal role in ensuring that their sons will attend college. Too many African American males do not think that they can go to college because they do not believe they can afford a college education. As the ACT and SAT average scores indicated, males continue to score higher than females on these tests. Therefore, we must convey that message to them so they will not only improve their classroom performance and secondary school grade point averages, but also to help them to ignore the negative effects of peer pressure from their male classmates in particular. Colleges and universities must also develop more precollege programs to increase the number of students enrolled in America’s more than 4,000 colleges and universities. During the 1960s and 1970s, colleges and universities significantly increased the amount of African American students in higher education with several successful federally funded summer and weekend precollege programs. Programs such as Upward Bound, Talent Search, and other similar enrichment programs, which are funded through the US Department of Education, began on many campuses over the last 40 years, and they have had a significant impact on the number of students who enrolled in college, especially those from low-income families. The impact of those programs was very noticeable around 1976, which was the peak year for African American students who attended college. More than 1.3 million African American students attended college in 1976 and the comparable number today is about 2.2 million. With more non-White students graduating from high school today, though not as many as should be graduating, their numbers in college should also be significantly higher. Upward Bound and Talent Search, which unfortunately have had to plead their case for survival to the Congress and the Executive Branch of the federal government over the last few years as they have been threatened for elimination, are two essential college preparation programs that deserve to be continued because of their success in promoting the benefits of higher education. College students are also effective mentors to prospective college students. Those students who are already enrolled in college help promote the many benefits and advantages of pursuing a bachelor’s degree and also tell students about the excitement of college life and the many leadership skills they can learn during that experience. In the 1980s, two popular TV programs targeted to Blacks had a noticeable impact on the numbers of African American students who enrolled in college. The TV program, ‘‘A Different World,’’ which had a historically Black college setting and which explored college’s varied social and academic life, influenced many

Educational Status of African American Males in the 21st Century


African American students’ decision to attend college. Additionally, a regular theme of ‘‘The Cosby Show,’’ another popular program in the 1980s, advanced the benefits of higher education. And the show’s star, Bill Cosby, playing the role of a successful physician, conveyed the importance of college by wearing the sweatshirts of many colleges and universities. Promoting the advantages of a college education is extremely important, but we must also strongly tell students that college is affordable and that they are eligible for and entitled to numerous federal and state grants and scholarships. Colleges and universities, therefore, can help parents and students obtain this information by offering financial aid workshops for the parents of high school students, as well as bringing students of all grades and ages to visit college campuses. In addition to the above suggestions, I strongly encourage school personnel and educational researchers to review the more than 50 recommendations that were developed as a result of the New Orleans Public Schools’ Study on Black Males of 1987. Some of those recommendations, published in The Journal of Negro Education (Garibaldi, 1992), are very relevant today as many segments of society strive to improve the educational performance of African American males. If those recommendations are implemented successfully across this country, we will be able to write about more of the educational accomplishments of African American males when The Journal of Negro Education celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2032.

REFERENCES American College Testing Program. (2007). ACT national and state scores for 2005, 2006, and 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2007, from American Council on Education. (2006). Minorities in higher education annual status report: 2006. Washington, DC: American Council on Education. Community Opinion Survey for the Committee to Study the Status of Black Males in the New Orleans Public Schools. (1988). The Times-Picayune, February 5. Diplomas Count: The Graduation Project 2007. (2007). Education Week, June 12, p. 42. Garibaldi, A. M. (1986). Sustaining Black educational progress: Challenges for the 1990s. The Journal of Negro Education, 55, 386–396. Garibaldi, A. M. (1988). Educating Black male youth: A moral and civic imperative. New Orleans, LA: New Orleans Public Schools Committee to Study the Status of the Black Male Student. Garibaldi, A. M. (1991). The role of historically Black colleges in facilitating resilience among African-American students. Education and Urban Society, 24, 103–112.



Garibaldi, A. M. (1992). Educating and motivating African-American males to succeed. The Journal of Negro Education, 61, 4–11. Garibaldi, A. M. (1997). Four decades of progress y and decline: An assessment of African American educational attainment. The Journal of Negro Education, 66, 105–120. Garibaldi, A. M. (2000). Postsecondary access and degree attainment of African Americans 1976–1996: A dream fulfilled or a dream still deferred? In: C. C. Yeakey (Ed.), Edmund W. Gordon: Producing knowledge, pursuing understanding (pp. 143–155). Stamford, CT: JAI Press. Garibaldi, A. M. (in press). The expanding gender and racial gap in American higher education. In: The history of race and higher education. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. The College Board. (2007). SAT national and state summary reports for 2005, 2006, and 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2007, from

MAKING SO BIG A DREAM NEAR AND DEAR TO ALL AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES Launcelot I. Brown, Malick Kouyate and Rodney K. Hopson INTRODUCTION The proportional diminution of African American males in higher education is a complex societal issue and, as with most complex issues, defies simple solutions. The complexity of the issue is grounded in a less than humane history and the resulting social, cultural, economic, emotional, mental, and spiritual factors that to varying degrees have been shaped by that history (interview with Wilson, 1997). These factors are intimately and intricately interwoven into one another forming a whole that is not easy to analyze and characterize. In striving to understand the whole, we have no choice but to examine individual factors that have contributed and in many ways continue to contribute to the present configuration of the whole. Yet, at the same time we recognize that no one factor assumes priority over the other. They are all of critical importance, impacting the group as a whole, but individuals within the group to varying degrees. In this chapter, as we attempt to understand why the diminution of the African American male in higher education, and answer the question why are African American males not Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 113–133 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006011




dreaming the American Dream, or if they do dream, how do their dreams differ from what is supposed to be a dream of possibilities; we discuss some possible reasons and make proposals that hopefully would initiate in some, and rekindle in others, the dream of which higher education should be a major component.

THE VITAL ROLE OF EDUCATION It is generally accepted that education remains the foundation to upward social mobility. It is also an accepted fact that a college degree or, more precisely, education is the smoothest road to the job market, and that a steady well-paying job or owning one’s business is the way out of dependency and poverty and the accompanying feelings of inadequacy and meaninglessness. The research literature is replete with reports and statistical evidence that show the relationship between an individual’s level of education and the kind of job he or she is able to access. The fact that in 2006 Black men with degrees still earned 70% of the income of White men with degrees (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007), while possibly demotivating to Black men, speaks to a race–wage disparity that is premised on more than just the academic qualification, and does not discredit the evidence that ‘‘education is still an important indicator for future social success or failure’’ (DuBois, 1903 in Hefner, 2004). As a matter of fact, the holder of a bachelor’s degree earns approximately 2.5 times more than a person with less than a high-school graduate diploma and 1.7 times more than a highschool graduate (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007). But education is more than just about upward social mobility for the individual. We insist that education is vital to the success of every community because it provides the foundation that adds meaning in everyday life, stability in the family, and social harmony in the community. It is both a socializing and an awakening process, while at the same time providing the dialogical encounter between the two processes. Of critical importance to the Black male is the notion of the dialog. He has to be aware, or made aware, that the dialog is really reflective of a tension between the awakening and socializing processes. While awakening must emphasize the life animating force that lies, often dormant, deep down within each and every one of us, socialization must never be about conforming to negative stereotypical characterizations promulgated by those external to, or even internal to, their group.

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During slavery in this country, the plantocracy understood fully that to deny education to somebody was to deny his or her ability to learn meaningfully and mindfully. When education could no longer be denied to the Black population, they understood the importance of education as a socialization process that would socialize the individual into accepting his or her prescribed role in life. But education does not always work that way. It also stimulates the awakening process. Therefore, once the Black population had experienced the freedom of thought that came with education, they were no longer prepared to accept the status quo. They demanded more and nobly fought for more. Today it seems as though the socialization process has triumphed over the awakening process. It seems as though many Black males have now accepted the role prescribed for them. Instead of challenging the roles, there seems to have been an internalization of the negative expectations that are characteristic of the prescribed role. As a result, many young Black males do not recognize the opportunity, or some would argue, fail to grasp the opportunity to take advantage of available educational options. The consistency of the findings in the American Council on Education (ACE) status reports on minorities in higher education (Cook & Co´rdova, 2007; Harvey, 2001; Harvey & Anderson, 2004) simply support what is already known. That is, a higher proportion of Black males do not go to college; moreover, many of those who do go never graduate (using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s current population). Survey Reports (CPS) and the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the (2007) status report indicates that whereas 73.8% of African American males 18–24 years old completed high school, only 38% enrolled in college. The report further states that among the 25–29-year age group, only 14.1% completed 4 or more years of college, with a 2 percentage points increase to 16% when those over 29 years are included in the analysis. This is a troubling social phenomenon which raises a fundamental concern over the very survival of the African American as a community.

THE IMPACT OF HISTORY To paraphrase an African proverb, to some extent, the African American people can be likened to the trees under the leafy canopy of the rainforest. The canopy gets all the benefits of the fresh air, the rain, and the sun, while the trees under the canopy remain stunted, or have to bend and twist their



way into the light. That many trees do get into the light is testimony to a determination to survive, to grow to the fullest potential. This determination is evidenced in the many legal battles between 1896 Plessey v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and beyond that sought the right to equal educational opportunities (see Gutek, 2000). It has been a little more than 50 years since Brown v. Board of Education and just over 40 years since Executive Order No. 11246, 1965, that led to the official dismantling of US apartheid, allowing Blacks to access the portals to equal opportunity. It is plausible to ask why this is important, and what does it have to do with the diminution of Black males in higher education. The answer is simple. To quote an old African saying: ‘‘the thought of the dead is still a heavy load on the mind of the living,’’ or as Brown (2004) asserts, ‘‘history never goes away, it impacts the present’’ (p. 24). History has set the rules of the game. It has determined, depending on one’s social status, the quality of the education available and who should access that education. By denying the benefits of formal education to Black people, history sought to mentally incapacitate the African American population. History through its laws, and its social, economic, and educational imperatives has fashioned an ‘‘American Dream’’ deemed suitable for Black people. The challenge is for Black people to reject any dream that does not emphasize limitless possibilities. In the context of historical timelines, 40 years is negligible. This is an important observation for as argued by Allen (2005), the removal of formal barriers to equal opportunity and participation in the citizenry did not necessarily dismantle the system of ethnic stratification anchored at the top by White males and at the bottom by Black males. Wilson (1997) in his interview makes the same argument when he states that ‘‘a system of racial discrimination over a long period of time can create y a system of racial inequality that will linger on even after racial barriers come down.’’ Certainly, the removal of racial barriers did not eliminate the effects of a system that for generations had been ingrained in American society, and had denied the existence of the African American as people with deep-rooted values, specific worldviews, and respectable ways of life. However, while the previous statement must not be trivialized, the removal of racial barriers did create opportunities for the better trained and educated Black individual (Wilson, 1997) and as a result, accelerated the expansion of the Black middle class. This expansion allowed Black people to pass on resources and legacies to their children in the same way as White persons had been doing for generations.

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Yet, the Black middle class is the minority in the Black community. The continued negative impact of the social, cultural, and economic stratification system is obvious even today. For proofs, one needs to look only at the economic differences between Blacks and Whites (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007) and the related negative social, cultural, and academic outcomes that dog the African American population. The situation is now so accepted that African American youth are being labeled ‘‘at risk’’ (Ford, Okojie, & Lewis, 1996), which in reality is a perverse redefining of ‘‘at risk’’ from a focus on behaviors and conditions to one of race. But these issues, for example, African American male students’ college admission and retention, unacceptably high attrition rates, and low academic performance in schools, are well documented in the literature (Lang, 2001; Moore, Ford, & Milner, 2005; Noguera, 2003a; Pinel, Warner, & Poh-Pheng, 2005; Ward, 2006), or can be easily found through any search of the Black (now Diverse) Issues in Higher Education newsletter. As a matter of fact, and as Bobb (2006) has argued, the African American male problem is now so familiar that it has lost its shock value and so, no longer galvanizes activists and academics alike into the kind of ‘‘feverish activity’’ that one should expect in response to a continuing situation that is highly unacceptable.

CHALLENGING THE DILEMMAS BY REDEFINING PAST EXPERIENCES Part of the challenge to finding solutions to this problem is that too many African American males have internalized the obstacles to their own academic achievement. They have internalized the negative characterizations many of which are systematized within the present educational system and are convinced that academic endeavors are not for them. They are unsure of their academic ability and have developed self-limited and selflimiting attitudes that set them apart as low achievers. Basically, they have bought into and now accept the dysfunctional images of Black men that are salient in the minds of Americans (McClellan, 2006). The solution to this negative self-image has to be alternative ‘‘ways of thinking’’ that transcend their ‘‘current dilemma.’’ They must be ‘‘taught to refuse to accept definitions of them[selves] within a paradigm that seeks their self-destruction’’ (Parson, Kritsonis, & Herrington, 2006, p. 3). This, we



would argue, is the responsibility, not of White-controlled institutions, but of the Black community. We, as a community, must challenge our young Black males to release their individual capacities, expand their intellectual curiosities, and challenge their self-imposed limitations on their academic abilities. In putting forward this challenge, we do not minimize the debilitating effects of poverty and the legacy of a history that has disparaged African Americans and especially the African American male. However, we argue that ‘‘neither poverty nor culture is educational destiny’’ (Parson et al., 2006) and further contend it is not an option to seek currency from being victims. Seeing oneself as a victim is a self-imposed characterization. We must interrogate our past and learn from it constructively and move on. We have to redefine our past experiences. We are not victims, but survivors of slavery – the most brutal of institutionalized systems – survived through our internal strength, astuteness, and creative thinking. This is the legacy that we must pass on to our young males as they forge ahead in a society that holds no grief for anyone who is academically underprepared. No one says it is going to be easy. It requires a shift from the comfort zone of blame and anger to one of assuming responsibility.

IMMIGRANT STATUS: DIFFERENCES IN THE LEVEL OF SELF-CONFIDENCE Steele (2006) in an interview with The American Enterprise (TAE) points to the educational attainment and economic advancement of other minority groups that have come to the US and the debilitating effects of African American attitudes and expectations on their own advancement. Steele did not mention the uninterrupted cultural history and the resulting cultural capital of these groups. Also, he did not discuss the placement of these other minority groups within the hierarchy of the racial stratification, and the media capital these groups have that influence the perceptions and expectations of the broader society with regard to their acceptance. However, to some extent he presents an argument that needs considering. While acknowledging the reported successes of other minority groups, a more apt comparison may be other groups of Black males coming from Africa and the Caribbean who are achieving academically. Despite the dearth of supportive empirical evidence, there is a widespread perception that students from Africa and the Caribbean perform better than African American students. With regard to the Afro-Caribbean students, they also

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are the descendants of slaves, and share elements of their history common to the African American experience. However, there are significant departures in the experiences of the two groups. The Caribbean societies were predominantly Black, and the pervasiveness of the racism that subjugated the African American population well into the 1960s and 1970s did not apply to Caribbean societies (see Edmondson, 2006, for a response to African Americans’ perception of Caribbean students and faculty). Brown (2004) quotes eminent Black sociologist William J. Wilson who argues that one of the outcomes of the racial pervasiveness concretized by racial segregation was for the Black population, the ‘‘restriction on patterns of social interactions y [that] led to the development of a distinct culture’’ (p. 28). Based on Wilson’s argument, one would expect a distinct difference between the Black Americans and Black immigrants. However, the problem for all Black people is they are perceived to be inferior, and therefore, as Hall (2000) asserts, a culture that emerges from a group that is considered inferior would itself be seen as inferior. Important also were, at least from the early 1960s, the texts used in the study of West Indian history, and in later years, the reading texts used in the elementary schools were written by West Indian scholars from a West Indian perspective. This solidified in Caribbean students a sense of history and achievement that allowed them to align with their countries and region, feel a sense of entitlement, acceptance and pride, and a belief in their innate abilities. This is exactly the point discussed by Boutte and Strickland (2008), and Darling-Hammond, Williamson, and Hyler (2007). In their treatise, they question the relevance of the curriculum to Black youth which results in the academic alienation of Black students, and by extension, a perpetuating of a Black underclass. Ogbu (1983) theorizes that there are differences in the strategies and approaches to education between Blacks who were brought into American society against their will and denied the privileges of citizenry (involuntary immigrants) and those who made a conscious choice to be part of the American society because of the opportunities for educational, social, political, and economic progress (voluntary immigrants). Drawing on data collected by the first author on Caribbean students (about 90% of them undergraduates) in US universities, we use Ogbu’s theoretical framework of the voluntary immigrant to show differences in perception of barriers to and in higher education, and compare and contrast reactions and responsiveness of male Caribbean students to the higher education environment. It is important to note that while we recognize the usefulness of Ogbu’s theories, we also acknowledge their limitations (see Foster, 2005).



AFRO-CARIBBEAN MALE STUDENTS’ RESPONSES TO CHALLENGES With good reason, African Americans are much more sensitive to racial issues and are quicker than Afro-Caribbean students to detect instances of discrimination. Caribbean students do not have the experience and so have not grown the ‘‘antennae’’ that allow them to detect some of the subtle messages behind the behaviors. However, whereas this awareness or knowledge is useful, it could also serve as a distraction. For example, we take the narrative of Jason from Jamaica, an engineering student at a predominantly White institution (PWI). He explains: Those classes are tough y The professors mark you down for the simplest mistake. But that’s what engineering is about. A mistake could mean lives. There were two other Black students in the class. They sat together, did everything together. Me, that was them. Me put meself up front. Me ain’t care. Me ask questions. They didn’t like the professor. They find he [was] hard on them, that he don’t like black people. Former students [had] warned them.

The sad conclusion is the students switched programs. As Jason further explained, he could not understand how they could have dropped engineering after surviving the weed out courses, especially when they had access to the support center for minority engineers that he as an international student could not go to for support. He further stated that he could not see the racism that the students spoke about and found that they ‘‘expended too much energy’’ on the race issue instead of just proving the professor wrong. Jason’s experience does not mean racism is non-existent in PWIs. Fred, a graduate student, had a different experience. He had an ongoing contentious relationship with his major professor and believes he was cheated when the professor awarded the top prize to a White French student despite the fact that he – Fred – was asked to help the student complete his project. They were the top students in the class. Was it race? Although Fred thinks it was, we do not know. He graduated and went on to study for his PhD at another institution. However, Fred’s response was instructive. He said, ‘‘I didn’t intend to let any old white man determine my future,’’ or as Jason repeatedly stated, ‘‘I take too much plane to come here and fail.’’ There are many more examples in the data of Caribbean students’ reactions even when confronted by open racism. For example, Osei, a student originally from Trinidad but who migrated to the US in his early teens, in recapping a recent experience on a city bus, said he laughed when

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two White guys referred to him as ‘‘nigger.’’ He found them to be stupid. He continued: you cannot let ignorance define who you are. His purpose for being in this city, at that particular university, is to get his degree.

USING ACHIEVEMENT AS A FORM OF RACIAL PRIDE Noguera (2003b) speaks of working extra hard in his advanced placement classes to show his White peers that he was as good as or even better than they were. One could argue that it is an unfair burden on Black students, but giving up does not change the rules of the game. It did not change the rules in sports or the arts. Rules were changed due to Black persistence and excellence. Blacks in America have a long history of beating the odds (Foster, 2005). They have used their achievement on the international stage to represent their race and signal to the world that as a people they are equal. Some of the more prominent examples are Jesse Owens and Joe Louis. Tommie Smith and John Carlos used the Olympic stage as a political platform to protest racial and social injustice; Muhammad Ali gave up his heavy-weight title and went to jail for his stance as a Black man on the Vietnam War. Today there are the Michael Jordans and Oprah Winfreys who have used their stardom to demonstrate their entrepreneurial acumen. This is nothing new. Even during the days of slavery, Blacks educated themselves at the risk of severe punishment, even death. It is a legacy of determination that bears fruit. The differences in approaches to perceived obstacles in higher education are also manifest on the historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) campuses. Here we recap the narratives of Jamal and Nkosi from Trinidad, and Rodney from Antigua. Jamal, who is in his senior year, volunteers as a math and physics tutor at the predominantly Black high school in the city where he lives; Nkosi, a business and finance major, volunteers as a counselor, and Rodney is a mentor to two high-school students interested in chemistry. All three shared similar stories. On the campus Caribbean students are known for partying. As Nkosi said, ‘‘No one could ‘lime’ (hang out/party) like us.’’ But as he continued, you party after doing the work, and you do not miss classes because of partying. To quote Rodney, ‘‘you have to set your priorities. I cannot afford to mess up; too many people sacrificed for me to be here, my father would ‘kill’ me.’’



Jamal who is particularly Afro-centric, found it difficult to understand the attitudes of some of his African American peers. He would organize study groups but ‘‘they would stroll in late and have to leave early y or [be] talking on the phone.’’ At the end, he stopped organizing the groups and concentrated on the high-school students. He says it frustrates him because he sees the poor academic performance as a reflection on his race. Nkosi also showed his frustration in relating an incident where some African American students complained that they (the Caribbean students) were winning all the awards because they were bright. His response was ‘‘partner, it doesn’t come easy. It is not [that we are] bright. We work hard.’’ Rodney spoke about his room-mate who almost every weekend with two friends went home, leaving on a Friday and returning either the Sunday evening or Monday morning. As he explained, the student lived more than five hours away. He spoke to him about it, and told him he was wasting his weekends. It did not make a difference. By the end of the semester, all three were in academic trouble. The above does not apply to all African American male students; however, it applies to too many of them. We see an attitude that does not reflect a priority to one’s studies. Maybe Jamal was correct in refocusing his attention on the students in high school. It is from that pool higher education draws its students. In the examples given, at PWIs we see Caribbean students’ unwillingness to let others define their potential and at HBCUs we see a respect for academics reflected in the difference in focus and determination. Foster (2005) sees this comparison as ‘‘part of [Black immigrant students] effort to envision themselves as high achievers’’ and so ‘‘they speak of nonimmigrant minorities as maladapted and deficient.’’ He further states that ‘‘the contrast they (Black immigrant students) draw y appears critical to their self-conception and to their approach to schooling’’ (p. 568). The data from the Caribbean students – some recent immigrants, others have been here for most of their lives – do not support Foster’s contention. Instead, the data show that the Caribbean students in the sample demonstrate a concern for, and a willingness to support their Black brothers. As stated by Rodney, ‘‘It’s a pride thing. A few Black people succeeding does not cut it. They come like the exception.’’

SHIFTING THE PARADIGM AND TAKING OWNERSHIP Black immigrant students are not the only ones to express a concern over the study habits of African American students. Quick and Shipley (2004)

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cite Washington Post columnist and education advocate William Raspberry who laments the fact that some Black students are aware that their lack of success is due to their lack of effort. They do not push themselves in comparison to their other classmates becoming their own oppressors. He suggests that ‘‘this private attitude of self-defeat ultimately sets up roadblocks that are unseen to outsiders’’ (p. 31). This he refers to as ‘‘internalized oppression which is a serious beast that has caused complacency where there used to be persistence y and is often intensified by low expectations’’ (p. 31). But as Quick and Shipley assert, this selfdefeating attitude can be overcome. It can be overcome when Black students shift the paradigm, that is, challenge the deficit models so prevalent in schools and in higher education that define them as less likely to succeed. The shift occurs when they enter schools with a belief in their abilities not based on the restricted expectations of others. As with any fundamental change in behaviors and beliefs, it is not an easy struggle. But the onus is on African American students to take ownership. As Raspberry contends, ‘‘we can wait for (White) America to change its attitude towards Blacks. Or we can change the way we respond to what we believe that attitude to be’’ (Quick & Shipley, 2004, p. 31). This is a very important observation, and one that African American students can learn from other Black immigrant students, especially on PWI campuses. Quick and Shipley (2004) in paraphrasing Marian Wright Edelman’s 1990 speech at Howard University suggest that the struggle for Black students is not necessarily because of overt forms of racism, but ‘‘for Black students who are unaware, or worse, unconcerned about their possibilities,’’ for those ‘‘who accept the norm that has been defined for them’’ (p. 31), and who accept the low expectations/standards set for them as recognition of the extent of their abilities. For Black males, accepting the norm is accepting the assumptions by the dominant culture about the Black male (Blake & Darling, 1994). But, there is a tradition of African American academic achievement. Maybe it is not heralded loud enough in the Black communities and so Black students are not aware of it. The lack of awareness creates a vacuum, and in that vacuum are placed achievers who are not of their own kind. It is expected that HBCU would do a better job than PWIs of filling the vacuum. But, at the university level we are dealing with retention. To increase the numbers for admission, it would be necessary to start teaching the traditions to the community and to the students while they are in school – from elementary to high school.



DEFICIT ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE BLACK MALE McClellan (2006) argues that what is accepted as knowledge about Black men is framed within the deficit model. Therefore, it is not surprising that studies of Black men begin from the perspective of them being inferior: inferior intelligence, perceptual skills, and cognitive styles, inferior family structure, and poor sense of social responsibilities and relationships. With such a pervasive emphasis on deficits common across all institutions, including education, it ought not to be too surprising that Black men seem to have accepted their defined roles as the following examples indicate: (1) Black men are intellectually weak but physically gifted. As far as the dominant culture is concerned, there is ample evidence to support this assumption. The book ‘‘The Bell Curve’’ (Hernstein & Murray, 1994) supposedly provides the scientific evidence that African Americans as a racial group are of inferior intelligence in comparison to the White race. Despite the fact that the book has been challenged and the study designed questioned, the central message of the text supports a wellrehearsed assumption about the Black population, which in the presentday standardized testing environment is constantly being reinforced by the poor academic performance of Black students and the disproportionate number of Black males in remedial classes. Similarly, the dominance of Black athletes in almost every sport in which they participate confirms the assumption of physical giftedness. (2) Black men are not academically focused. This assumption is related to the assumption of intellectual weakness and finds support in the higher attrition rates for Black males in comparison to all other groups, including Black females, at both the high school and university levels (Lang, 2001; US Census). Fewer Black males than equally qualified Black females seek admission to college (Harvey & Anderson, 2004; Roach, 2001). The suspension and expulsion rates for Black students (Arcia, 2007; Meier, Stewart, & England, 1989) and males in particular (Raffaele Mendez & Knoff, 2003) are higher than for any other group. For example, Raffaele and Knoff, after citing the disproportionate suspension rates for Black students across various states, reported the results of their analysis of the Florida data that showed Black students were approximately four times as likely to be suspended as White students and Hispanic students at the elementary level, and at least 1.5 times more likely to be suspended at the middle and secondary levels as their counterparts. As a matter of fact, the suspension rates per 100

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students at the elementary level were 12.15% for Black students and 3.08% and 3.88%, respectively, for White and Hispanic students, 48.9% for Blacks and 25% and 33.95% for White and Hispanic at the middle school level, and 39.46% for Black students and 18.9% and 27.36% for White and Hispanics at the high-school level. Additionally, the research has shown that African American male students are more likely than their peers to academically disengage themselves from school, exhibit poorer self-system processes, that is, adaptation to everyday life and cultural stressors (Connell, Spencer, & Aber, 1994), and be disproportionately placed in remedial classes (Noguera, 2003b). (3) Black men are over fertile. Black men are now ‘‘happily’’ changing this from an assumption to a fact. The statistics on the Black family point to an increasingly depressing situation. Any Internet search on the topic of Black male sexual promiscuity or variations of the same leads to a proliferation of commentaries on the topic. Despite the myriad reasons given for the present situation, the common theme is that the Black family today is in crisis, and Black men and the Black community have to take responsibility for rectifying the situation. Somewhere along the line, Black men have absconded from the role of male provider and/or protector, and have left the responsibility to the females. No one underestimates the challenges involved. The statistics are daunting. For example, 70% of all Black children are born to single mothers; 85% of Black children do not live in homes with their fathers and it is further projected that only 15–20% of Black children would grow up in homes with two parents. This is occurring even as the research shows that 80% of long-term childhood poverty occurs in homes headed by single females, and as stated in U.S. Census Bureau (2008a, 2008b), African American households had the lowest median income in 2007. The statistics are simply confirming a reality. Of importance, however, are the effects of long-term childhood poverty especially when we know that the years 0–5 are crucial to a child’s cognitive and intellectual development (Ward, 2006), and the fact that the problem seems to be generational as evidenced by the statement of a 12-year-old boy in a discussion about fatherhood, ‘‘marriage is for White people’’ (Jones, 2006). (4) Black men are too aggressive. Since Columbine, the difference between a clique and a gang has been clarified. If you are a member of a group wearing black trench coats, hanging and doing things together, and more or less conforming to a dress and behavior code that identifies you with a specific group, you could be a clique or a gang depending on



whether you are White or Black. This observation may not seem important, but choice of words implies differences in meaning and these meanings feed into prevailing assumptions. These assumptions are also fed by the media. Most stories about Black men are in regard to some form of criminal or violent activity (Oliver, 2003; Oliver & Fonash, 2002). It does not help that many young males portray an image that lends support to the perception of the young aggressive and angry Black male. It is even worse that the African American community seems to have accepted these portrayals as representative of its culture (Steele, 2006). The truth is most African American males who portray the gangster image are no different from any other youth (Steele). However, living the imagery certainly reflects a buy in to the assumption that makes all Black males hostile and potential criminals. The problem facing the Black community and especially the male is that they, the Black males, have given legitimacy to the assumptions. While all Black males do not feed into the negativity implied by the assumptions (Parson et al., 2006), those who do not are too often seen as the exception.

LIVING THE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHESY The diminution of Black males in college is only the manifestation of a dream deferred that begins in kindergarten. It has been 40 years since Rosenthal and Jacobson’s (1968) landmark study on the Pygmalion effect on learner outcomes in the classroom. Using the concept of the self-fulfilling prophesy, they demonstrated that teacher expectations of student outcomes were instrumental in students performing to that expectation. It is plausible to suggest that the concept of the self-fulfilling prophesy may be a salient factor in the underperformance of African American male students. They may be performing to the level of expectation. Steele (2006) found that students functioning in an environment in which they perceive themselves as ‘‘stereotype threatened’’ perform worse than their peers in neutral environments. As he explains, the ‘‘stereotype threat’’ has the effect of lowering the confidence of vulnerable groups which in turn affects their overall academic performance. Pinel et al. (2005) note that the consequence of low confidence is that the student psychologically disengages and is no longer motivated to excel in the domain. With this in mind, it should not be surprising that African American males are underachieving when they function in an environment that is saturated with an abundance

Making so Big a Dream Near and Dear to All African American Males


of negative assumptions about their academic ability, their interest in all things educational, and their behavior. We are all affected by assumptions and often times have to make a conscious effort to interrogate our own perceptions of others, and at other times reject others’ perceptions of us. This is a responsibility of both the Black community and the schools in the Black communities. From kindergarten, teachers have to expect Black students to perform at grade level and Black parents have to get involved and insist that their children are being taught. Bobb (2006) is correct when he says that ‘‘many of the students in segregated Black schools are utterly disconnected from the standard set of expectations and practices that are the norm of the American academic world’’ (p. 29). This is a critical observation and one that can be and has to be rectified.

BLACK TEACHERS FOR PREDOMINANTLY BLACK SCHOOLS? While no one can dispute the moral correctness and benefits accrued from Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the proverbial ‘‘devil was in the detail.’’ The decision brought Black schools under the focus of White school boards and superintendents. Collier (2002), in citing the works of Cole (1986), Coursen (1975), and Hawkins (1994), confirms the negative impact on the African American teacher population due to the policies implemented as a result of the decision. As she argues, at the time of the decision, there was an estimated 82,000 teachers serving the educational needs of approximately 2 million Black students. However, the ensuing 10 years saw almost 40,000 teachers and administrators lose their jobs due to the dismantling of the Black school system1 (Elaine Carter, personal communication, 09/01/2006), and the reassigning of the most competent teachers and students to White schools. The legacy of the Brown decision continues to date. There was a less than subtle suggestion that the ‘‘White education system was intrinsically better than the Black education system’’ (Collier, 2002, p. 51), and therefore by implication Black teachers were inferior to White teachers. While part of the solution might be the recruitment of more Black teachers to teach in schools in the Black communities, the challenge is in reversing the trend of African Americans not entering teaching. Beside the legacy of the Brown decision, there are other reasons given for the diminishing numbers of Black teachers.



Among those are lack of competitive incentives to teach, the impact of state and national teacher competency tests, inadequate educational preparation, declining college enrollments, and alternative career opportunities (Collier, 2002; Talbert-Johnson, 2001). Despite these challenges, the Black community has to encourage its members to become teachers. Black parents and community leaders will have to realize that the most effective strategy to preserve their children from many of the negative experiences they faced in school may be to have its own members become teachers. As Talbert-Johnson (2001) asserted referencing 1995 statistics, ‘‘African Americans make up 16% of the public school population, but only 8% of its teachers’’ (p. 287). This situation becomes even more pronounced in special education where African Americans comprise 28% of the student population but only 4.8% of the teachers. While there is still need for empirical data evidencing the relationship between the African American teacher and African American student achievement, it is plausible to surmise that African American teachers may possess the cultural connectors of background knowledge, and hold perspectives more suitable to working with African American students. This idea is not far-fetched. Teachers’ philosophy and beliefs inform their practice. It is documented that a major strength of the schools during the period of segregation was the teachers’ commitment, expectations, and belief in the ability of their students (Walker, 2000). For all the lack of resources, these schools worked and instilled a sense of purpose in their students. The students were ‘‘taught to aspire and achieve’’1 (Elaine Carter, personal communication, 09/01/2006). In discussing her years at Boston College, Elaine Carter commented on the effects of the Black schools on the confidence level of the student. As she explained: You always knew the [Black] students who had attended Black schools. They were much more ego strong than those who came from white schools. They were confident, sure of themselves. They could achieve anything they set their minds to. These schools also had the advantage of truly being community schools as opposed to being schools in the community, and therefore presented curricula that reflected respect for the people and traditions of the community they served.

NEED FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF CURRICULUM Boutte and Strickland (2008) contend that a curriculum that acknowledges the contribution of Black people is an element lacking in the present-day configuration of schools. They argue for alternative curricular models.

Making so Big a Dream Near and Dear to All African American Males


Models that reflect ‘‘counter narratives to the pervasive messages which do not value and build on the wisdom and values found in Black communities’’ (p. 135) but instead celebrate the contributions of Black people to the development of America and the world. The existing Eurocentric curriculum is either silent or makes only passing reference to the significance of Africa in the history of the world and the contribution of Africans and people of African descent to world thought. While we acknowledge Boutte and Strickland’s (2008) argument, the reality is we are living in a political climate that calls for mandated testing on the present curriculum. We are not going to pretend that the curriculum is neutral. London (2002) argues that ‘‘the ability of any group to spread the secular gospel, and to establish and declare its knowledge as ‘education for all’ is related to that group’s power in the larger political and economic arena’’ (p. 55). Thus, the school is by no means a neutral environment, but reinforces the economic relations in society through the transference of information (knowledge) that further reinforces notions of what is acceptable. We contend that the curriculum has always been Eurocentric, and has always remained silent on the contributions of Africans and Africans from the diaspora. Yet, Black people in the past in both the US and colonial Africa and the Caribbean have engaged that curriculum, understanding that it was Eurocentric and understanding its aims, and have mastered it in the fight to liberate themselves and their people. We agree with Elaine Carter that a major support element to their success with that curriculum, especially in the case of the African American, was the trusting relationship with their teachers. This statement implies that a missing element in the schools today is trust. African American students and the community do not trust the teachers of their children. A review of the statistics on student suspension, grade retention, special education placement, and tracking suggests that Black parents and students may have good reasons for their lack of trust in them. Yet, to foster change, one cannot disengage. As a matter of fact, the curriculum is less Eurocentric today because of the efforts of Black academics who fought to get African American history into the academy1 (Elaine Carter). They did not disengage. They used education to challenge the status quo. This is not beyond any Black youth today. The difference is the lack of cohesion and single-minded purpose to succeed that was once the hallmark of the Black community. The stories of possibilities are no longer being told and therefore the dreams have become limited or at best directionless.



FACING THE CHALLENGES Hefner (2004) reflects that ‘‘for all its evils, segregation offered a sobering reality to Blacks that progress occurred when they themselves fought for it’’ (p. 70). It is possible that the Black community and the leaders assumed victory came with the repeal of the Jim Crow laws. Maybe the removal of the concrete obstacles left African Americans unprepared for the presentday more subtle and diffused challenges. But, the diffused nature of the challenges is what makes them more telling. No one factor can be identified as the major impediment to African American male achievement. What is seen is the negative impact of the factors on the performance of Black male students. While this is true, the solution has to come from within the Black community, and it has to come through a change in the way we see our potential. No one can control another’s perception of you. The most you can do is control your response to the perception. It is the responsibility of the Black community, the Black institutions, and the Black teachers and academics to challenge the self-talk and behavior patterns that represent an acceptance of the perception that says ‘‘this is the expected role of the Black male. These are the limits of his achievements.’’ As Black academics who have successfully negotiated the system, we play a critical role. We have a responsibility to engage the Black community. We have to incorporate the Black churches in the struggle against this selfinjurious behavior. The argument has to be that it is morally wrong to injure oneself, for in doing so you also injure your children and the entire Black community. The same logic that grounds the argument for the development of alternative curricula must inform parental decisions with regard to the reading material and media to which they expose their children. Also, they themselves must be proud of their own generational stories and pass them down to their children. The aim is to develop resilience by countering the negative images which constantly bombard their children, replacing those with images that are positive. We have to get all African Americans to see that perceptions are not reality. They only become reality when you believe them and make them true. Hopefully, the election of Barrack Obama to the highest office in the land would make the task a bit easier. However, easy or not, it is imperative that we confront the challenge in changing the mindset of a significant number of Black males who do not see possibilities, and so deny themselves and, by extension, their communities opportunities for achieving.

Making so Big a Dream Near and Dear to All African American Males


CONCLUSION To many African Americans, achieving the ‘‘American Dream’’ is more like dreaming the impossible dream. Yet to dream they must. It is a necessary precondition to success. Today too many African Americans, especially the males, limit their dreams to disciplines that demonstrate physical ability. That is fine. But that is only half the dream, and it is based on the assumption of physical giftedness, the concept of brawn but no brain. The underlying belief structure has to change. The dream has to be premised on the belief that the African American male can aspire to any achievement level he desires. Obviously there would be hurdles. But there is a long tradition of Black people overcoming hurdles that can serve as an inspiration to the present generation. As Americans, Black people also have a right to dream. However, it is up to us to ensure that when we dream, it is a dream of possibilities.

NOTE 1. Elaine Dowe Carter is executive director of Christiansburg Institute, Inc. Founded in 1996, the mission of Christiansburg Institute, Inc. (CII) is to promote and preserve the unique place of the Christiansburg Institute in the history of African American education in ways which will exemplify its legacies of educational achievement and lifelong educational opportunity. Details about the rich history of the school and the role it played in the education of African Americans in southwestern Virginia can be read at the following website:

REFERENCES Allen, W. R. (2005). A forward glance in a mirror: Diversity challenged – Access, equity, and success in higher education. Educational Researcher, 34(7), 18–23. Arcia, E. (2007). Variability in schools’ suspension rates of Black students. The Journal of Negro Education, 76(4), 597–609. Blake, W. M., & Darling, C. A. (1994). The dilemmas of the African American male. Journal of Black studies, 24(4), 402–415. Bobb, K. (2006). The paradox of Black male initiatives. Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 23(3), 29pp. Boutte, G. S., & Strickland, J. (2008). Making African American culture and history central to early childhood teaching and learning. The Journal of Negro Education, 77(2), 131–142. Brown, L. I. (2004). Diversity: The challenge for higher education. Race Ethnicity and Education, 7(1), 21–34.



Collier, M. D. (2002). Changing the face of teaching: Preparing educators for diverse settings. Teacher Education Quarterly, 29(1), 49–59. Connell, J. P., Spencer, M. B., & Aber, J. L. (1994). Educational risk and resilience in AfricanAmerican youth: Context, self, action and outcomes in school. Child Development, 65(2), 493–506. Cook, B. J., & Co´rdova, D. I. (2007). Minorities in higher education. Twenty-second Annual Status Report: 2007 supplement. American Council on Education. Darling-Hammond, L., Williamson, J. A., & Hyler, M. E. (2007). Securing the right to learn: The quest for an empowering curriculum for African American citizens. The Journal of Negro Education, 76(3), 261–296. Edmondson, B. (2006). The myth of Black immigrant privilege. Anthurium: A Caribbean Journal, 4(1). Retrieved March 6, 2009, from volume_4/issue_1/edmondson-themyth.html Ford, C. A., Okojie, F. L., & Lewis, M. K. (1996). Factors that contribute to academic resilience among urban ‘‘at risk’’ African American male college students. Challenge, 7(3), 17–29. Foster, M. K. (2005). Narratives of the social scientist: Understanding the work of John Ogbu. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 18(5), 565–580. Gutek, G. L. (2000). American education 1945–2000: A history and commentary. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press. Hall, S. (2000). The multicultural question. Available online at: N-Q/perc/Hall.html Harvey, W. B. (2001). Minorities in higher education: 2000–2001. Eighteenth Annual Status Report. American Council on Education. Harvey, W. B., & Anderson, E. L. (2004). Minorities in higher education: 2003–2004. Twentyfirst Status Report. American Council on Education. Hefner, D. (2004). Where the boys aren’t. Black Issues in Higher Education, 21(9), 70–75. Hernstein, R., & Murray, C. (1994). The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in America. New York: Free Press. Jones, J. (2006). Marriage is for White people. Washington, DC: The Washington Post. Lang, M. (2001). Student retention in higher education: Some conceptual and programmatic perspectives. Journal of College Student Retention, 3(3), 217–229. London, N. A. (2002). Curriculum convergence: An ethno-historical investigation into schooling in Trinidad and Tobago. Comparative Education, 38(1), 53–72. McClellan, P. A. (2006). Wearing the mantle: Spirited Black male servant leaders reflect on their leadership journey. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green. Meier, K. J., Stewart, J., & England, R. E. (1989). Race, class, and education: The politics of second-generation discrimination. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. Moore, J. L., Ford, D. Y., & Milner, R. H. (2005). Recruitment is not enough: Retaining African American students in gifted education. The Gifted Child Quarterly, 49(1), 51–67. Noguera, P. (2003a). The problem with Black boys: The role and influence of environmental and cultural factors on the academic performance of African American males. Urban Education, 38, 431–459. Noguera, P. (2003b, March/April). How racial identity affects school performance. Harvard Education Letter,

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Ogbu, J. (1983). Minority status and schooling in plural societies. Comparative Education Review, 27(2), 168–190. Oliver, M. B. (2003). African American men as ‘‘criminal and dangerous’’: Implications of media portrayals of crime on the ‘‘criminalization’’ of African American men. Journal of African American Studies, 7(2), 3–18. Oliver, M. B., & Fonash, D. (2002). Race and crime in the news: Whites’ identification and misidentification of violent and nonviolent criminal suspects. Media Psychology, 4(2), 137–156. Parson, G. C., Kritsonis, W. A., & Herrington, D. (2006). Successful African males in post secondary education: An examination of personal strategies, attitudes and behaviors. The Lamar University Electronic Journal of Student Research, 3, 1–8. Pinel, E. C., Warner, L. R., & Poh-Pheng, C. (2005). Getting there is only half the battle: Stigma consciousness and maintaining diversity in higher education. Journal of Social Issues, 61(3), 481–506. Quick, R. T., & Shipley, D. L. (2004). Shifting the paradigm: When Black students refuse to accept the norm. Black Issues in Higher Education, 21(6), 31pp. Raffaele Mendez, L. M., & Knoff, H. M. (2003). Who gets suspended from school and why: A demographic analysis of schools and disciplinary infractions in a large school district. Education & Treatment of Children, 26(1), 30–51. Roach, R. (2001). Where are the Black men on campus? Black Issues in Higher Education, 18(6), 18–20. Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1968). Pygmalion in the classroom. Urban Review, 3(1), 16–25. Steele, S. (2006). Live with Shelby Steele, article_detail.asp Talbert-Johnson, C. (2001). The quest for equity: Maintaining African American teachers in special education. The Journal of Negro Education, 70(4), 286–296. U.S. Census Bureau (2007). Income, earnings, and poverty: Data from the 2006 American Community Survey. Retrieved March 7, 2009, from 2007pubs/acs-08.pdf U.S. Census Bureau (2008a). The 2008 statistical abstract: The national data book. Retrieved October 10, 2008, from U.S. Census Bureau (2008b) Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States: 2007. Retrieved March 7, 2009, from Walker, V. S. (2000). Valued segregated schools for African American children in the south, 1935–1969: A review of common themes and characteristics. Review of Educational Research, 70(3), 253–285. Ward, N. L. (2006). Improving equity and access for low-income and minority youth into institutions of higher education. Urban Education, 41(1), 50–70. Wilson, W. J. (1997). The two nations of Black America: Interview with William Julius Wilson, Frontline. Public Broadcasting Services (PBS), shows/race/interviews/wilson.html

WHERE ARE THE BROTHERS? ALTERNATIVES TO FOUR-YEAR COLLEGE FOR BLACK MALES Rhonda Vonshay Sharpe and William A. Darity Jr. ABSTRACT There has been much discussion, but little research about why African American males do not attend and or complete a college education. We examine the alternatives that might reduce or compete with the decision to complete a college education. We analyze the number of men incarcerated, trends in labor force participation, and occupation and wages by educational attainment. We find that even when the number of 18–24-year-old African American males incarcerated increased, the number of 18–24-year-old African American males enrolled in college had a larger increase suggesting that incarceration is not a plausible explanation for the growth rate in degree attainment for African American males. We find that the decrease in the overall percentage and in the percentage of 18–24-year-old African American males reporting employed as their labor force status and the increase in the percentage for these groups reporting not in the labor force and unemployed may have an impact on the college degree completion. Additionally, an increasing percentage of African American males have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but there was a larger percentage change in the percent of African American males with some college. Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 135–153 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006012




African American males with some college earn significantly less than those with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but earn significantly more than African American women with some college or an associate’s degree. This supports Dunn’s (1988) finding that African American males do not invest in college because they desire ‘‘quick money.’’ The earnings differential between African American males and females may also explain the degree attainment gap, as it is the African American females with a bachelor’s degree that earn significantly more than African American males with some college.

OVERVIEW Raising credentials can be accomplished either through on the job training programs or by self-investment in education. Both methods bear risk and require the outlay of time, money and, in many instances, foregone wages. Economists tend to approach the analysis of human capital investment as analogous to investments in the stock market or in capital projects. Economists focus on (1) private returns: benefits enjoyed by student and their family; (2) net present value: discounted economic benefits less costs; and (3) social cost and benefits: what society pays for education versus what society receives – better citizens. According to human capital theory, an individual faced with the decision to invest in a college education will do so only if the monetary benefits exceed the costs.1 However, the monetary benefits and ‘‘true’’ costs are a function of social conditions. For example, the availability of funds to invest in a college education affects costs faced by an individual, and it is a binding constraint for investment in college education. If the funds are ‘‘free’’ to the individual, for example grants, familial contributions or scholarships, then costs are lowered. Funds in the form of student loans increase the cost of investing in a college education relative to ‘‘free’’ support. During the 2003–2004 academic year, approximately 63 percent of all students enrolled in college received some type of financial aid.2 Seventy-six percent of African American students received aid. Fifty-one percent of all students received financial aid assistance from grants, and 35 percent received financial aid assistance from loans. In comparison, 64 percent of African American students received financial aid assistance from grants and 43 percent received assistance from loans. For African American students, initial entry into a college or university is more constrained by the availability of funds than their capacity to persist in college (Wilson, 2007).

Alternatives to Four-Year College for Black Males


However, costs are just one factor in the economists’ construction of the decision. The other factor is monetary benefits. If there is high demand for the skills acquired, then the monetary benefits also will be high. Unfortunately, the demand for the skills at the time of enrollment in college may not be same upon graduation from college. Therefore, the benefits are unknown. Much research has been done to provide estimates of the monetary benefits of personal investment in a college education. Using 1997–1999 earnings, Census estimates show that the average income for bachelor’s degree recipients was 71 percent higher than the average income for those with only a high school diploma.3 In addition, the estimated lifetime earnings of those with a bachelor’s degree exceed that of a high school graduate by nearly 1 million dollars.4 The estimated lifetime earnings for African Americans with a bachelor’s degree is 0.6 million dollars higher than for those African Americans with a high school diploma. These results have been consistent over time.5 Thus far, we have shown the monetary benefits of a college education. In the remainder of this study, we explore alternatives to a college education. We do not anticipate identifying a single reason to explain the pattern or growth rate for degree attainment of African American males. Our objective is to evaluate alternatives that might reduce or compete with the decision to complete the college degree. Simultaneously, we analyze the number of men incarcerated and trends in labor force participation, and we analyze occupation and wages by educational attainment.

DATA AND METHODOLOGY This study examines alternatives to college degree completion for African American men. Our analysis of incarceration is limited by the availability of data, and, therefore, is confined to 2000–2004. Data for the number of incarcerated 18–24-year-old African American males comes from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin: Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear Annual Reports for 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. Enrollment data was generated using Integrated Postsecondary Educational Data Systems; Completion Survey by Race accessed using WebCASPAR. Enrollment data is limited to African American males. Labor force participation, income and occupational distributions were calculated using Public Use Micro Samples of the 1990 and 2000 decennial census and 2007 American Community Survey. The data are limited to



individuals who self identify as African American and are between the ages 18 and 65. Income data are self-reported and reflect wages earned for the previous year. Zero wage earners are excluded from all analyses of income. The study addresses the following research questions: 1. Does an increase in the number of 18–24-year-old African American males incarcerated correspond to a decrease in the number of 18–24-yearold African American males enrolled in college? 2. Are changes in labor force participation of African American males a plausible explanation for the growth rate in degree attainment of African American males? 3. Are the earnings differentials between those with some college and those with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree insignificant, thereby reducing incentives to complete the associate’s or bachelor’s degree? 4. Are the earnings of relatively less educated African American men higher than the earnings of African American women? If so, is this a plausible explanation for the degree attainment gap between African American males and females? To address these research questions, we utilize cross tabulation. This study has several limitations. First, we do not provide a cost/benefit analysis of investing in a college education; therefore, we do consider the impact of the perceived cost of a college education on investing in a college education. Second, we do not control for number of hours worked – full-time or parttime. As a result, the average and median income values reported are biased downward for full-time workers and biased upward for part-time workers. Finally, the analyses are descriptive only which limits our ability to suggest causation for any trends identified or to control for personal characteristics, which might influence educational attainment.

INCARCERATION In 2002, the Justice Policy Institute reported that for the year 2000 there were more African American men in imprisoned than enrolled in college. Their findings use proportional estimates rather than a census count; therefore, their methodology is flawed, and the findings are misleading. We do not find that the number of 18–24-year-old African American males imprisoned ever exceeded the number enrolled in college at any point during the time period of 2000–2005 (see Table 1).


Alternatives to Four-Year College for Black Males

Table 1.

Number of 18–24-Year-Old African American Males Enrolled in College and Imprisoned: 2000–2005.


Full-Time Students

Part-Time Students

Total Enrolled


2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

363,174 385,018 407,961 430,776 445,349

241,164 250,553 257,693 256,187 263,880

563,434 604,338 635,571 665,654 686,963

179,500 189,200 195,500 193,900 194,900

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System: Enrollment Survey, 2000–2004. Accessed at: Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin: Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Annual Reports.

Instead, we find the number of 18–24-year-old African American males enrolled in college is more than three times the number incarcerated in 2000 and four times the number incarcerated in 2004. More importantly, the number of 18–24-year-old African American males imprisoned does not show a pattern of steady growth, but the number enrolled in college does show a pattern of steady growth. The findings in Table 1 do not lead us to conclude that incarceration is an alternative that competes with Black men pursuing a college education. A comparison of enrollment and incarceration data for African American males is only half the story. The other half is the treatment of African American males by the criminal justice system, which may affect the eligibility to attend college. The literature on racial disparities and the criminal justice system finds that at the state level African American males are disadvantaged with respect to the decision to incarcerate or not and disadvantaged at the Federal level with respect to the length of prison sentences. African Americans are approximately 40 percent of the drug arrests, but nearly 60 percent of those in state prison for drug offenses. The higher arrests and conviction rates are a combination of the inequality in sentencing laws for crack cocaine versus powder cocaine and the concentration of law enforcement on inner cities. Therefore, ‘‘school zone’’ drug laws disproportionately affect African Americans. In 2006, changes to the Higher Education Act removed the statute that made those convicted of violating ‘‘school zone’’ drug laws ineligible for financial aid for the remainder of their life.6 Currently, the penalty for violating the ‘‘school zone’’ drug laws are: first offense loss of Federal financial aid for a one year; second offense loss of Federal financial aid for two years; and third offense lose eligibility for Federal financial aid for life.



These changes will likely have a positive impact on college attendance for African American males. On contrary, the increase in the number of states over the past 20 years that have passed laws making it easier to try juveniles in adult court will likely impeded the educational attainment of African American males. These states have decided that the ‘‘principle of rehabilitation and prevention that characterized the founding of a separate juveniles system in the 19th century to the punishment and retributive-oriented approach of the adult system’’ is more appropriate.7 Of the 73 children 13 or 14 years old and sentenced to life in prison, 36 of these children are African Americans.8 Such a shift is likely slow the flow of African American males into the higher education pipeline or stagnant the growth in degree attainment. In addition to the discrimination within the criminal justice system, African American males are also disadvantaged socially with respect to their White peers. So while African American and White males engage in serious crimes at about the same rate as teenagers, Whites have social networks that allow them to transition into college and employment. In the next section, we examine the labor force participation of African American males.

LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION The labor force participation rates of African American males provide insight about employment trends. If an increasing number of African American male are unemployed, out of the labor force, or the military, then we might expect to see fewer invest in a college education. We find that the majority of African American males with a bachelor’s degree or less are employed, which is also true for 18–24 year olds (see Table 2). However, we do find that the percentage of African American males employed has been decreasing since 1990. In 1990, nearly 60 percent of all African American males and nearly 45 percent of 18–24-year-old African American males were working in civilian jobs. By 2007, the percentage of all and 18–24-year African American males working in civilian jobs had decreased to 51 and 39 percent, respectively. Additionally, the number of African American males in the armed forces decreased for both groups. We also find that the overall percentage of African American males unemployed decreased from 10 percent in 1990 to 8 percent in 2007. The percentage of 18–24-year-old African American males increased slightly from 15 percent in 1990 to 16 percent in 2007. Unfortunately, the overall percentage and the proportion of 18–24-year-old African American males


Alternatives to Four-Year College for Black Males

Table 2. Labor Force Participation for African American Males with BS Degree or Less. Employment Status





All men At work Has job, not working Armed forces – at work Unemployed Not in labor force Total

58% 1% 3% 10% 28% 100%

53% 1% 2% 8% 36% 100%

51% 2% 1% 8% 38% 100%

55% 1% 2% 9% 33% 100%

18–24-year olds At work Has job, not working Armed forces – at work Unemployed Not in labor force Total

44% 1% 7% 15% 33% 100%

41% 1% 4% 15% 39% 100%

39% 1% 2% 16% 42% 100%

42% 1% 5% 15% 37% 100%

Source: 1990 and 2000 Decennial Census Public Use Micro Sample and 2007 American Community Survey Public Use Micro Sample. Accessed at:

not in the labor force increased by nearly 10 percentage points from 1990 to 2007. The results in Table 2 suggest that the decrease in the overall percentage and in the percentage of 18–24-year-old employed and the increase in the percentage for these groups not in the labor force and unemployed may have an impact on the college enrollment. To explore the impact of labor force participation further, we examine educational attainment trends.

EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT If the increase in the percentage of African American males not in the labor force and unemployed affected the choice to attend college, then the percentage earning an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree should also decrease. We find that the percentage of 18–24-year-old males with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in 2007 was essentially the same as in 1990. But we are also interested in how the educational attainment of these males changes as they age; therefore we use cohort analysis to identify changes in educational attainment as the cohort ages (see Table 3).



Table 3. Age Cohort

Educational Attainment for African American Males.

No Diploma (%)

High School (%)

Some College (%)

Associate’s Degree (%)

Bachelor’s Degree (%)


1990 18–24 25–34 35–44 45–54 55þ Total

36 27 28 43 62 36

36 36 32 30 21 33

23 23 23 16 10 20

3 6 7 5 3 5

2 9 10 6 4 6

100 100 100 100 100 100

2000 18–24 25–34 35–44 45–54 55þ Total

38 23 25 28 43 30

34 37 36 33 30 34

24 25 24 23 17 23

2 5 6 6 4 5

2 10 9 10 6 8

100 100 100 100 100 100

2007 18–24 25–34 35–44 45–54 55þ Total

30 20 17 20 26 22

38 39 41 39 35 39

27 23 22 22 21 23

2 6 7 8 7 6

3 12 13 11 11 10

100 100 100 100 100 100

Source: 1990 and 2000 Decennial Census Public Use Micro Sample and 2007 American Community Survey Public Use Micro Sample. Accessed at:

For the cohort of 18–24-year-old African American males, there was a 4 percent increase in the percentage with an associate’s degree and an 11 percent increase in the percentage with a bachelor’s degree over the time period from 1990 to 2007. We find a similar trend for the 2000 cohort of 18–24-year-old African American males – 4 percent increase in the percentage with an associate’s degree and a 10 percent increase in the percentage with a bachelor’s degree over the time period from 1990 to 2007. We do not find a similar trend for the older cohorts. At the lower levels of educational attainment, the findings are mixed. The percentage of 18–24-year-old African American males without at diploma increased in 2000 to 38 percent and then decreased by 8 percentage points in 2007. The percentage of 18–24-year-old African American males with a high school diploma fell to 34 percent in 2000 and then rose to 38 percent in 2007.

Alternatives to Four-Year College for Black Males


Some college is the only category that increased consistently for 18–24-yearold African American males in each time period. The analyses of 18–24-year-old have several implications. First, African American males may take longer to finish the degree because they are attending college as part-time students. Second, they may be returning to college later as a way to increase skills and improve employment opportunities. Finally, an increasing percentage of African American males are enrolling in college but not finishing. For each period, at least 20 percent of all African American males have had at least some college. The increase in the number of African American men with college experience has increased from 28 percent in 1990 to 32 percent in 2007. Unfortunately, many of these males do not continue to pursue either the associate’s or bachelor’s degree. If the increase in earnings is insignificant, then this may explain the choice not to complete the associate’s or bachelor’s degree. In the next section, we examine earnings and occupational distribution by educational attainment.

EARNINGS AND OCCUPATIONAL DISTRIBUTION BY EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT Research on college retention of minority student does not consider earnings potential as a reason for dropping or stopping out (Carter, 2006). Given that the investment in a college education requires forgoing some if not all earnings, an inability to continue forgoing earnings seems like a plausible explanation. The decision to continue delaying earnings may be rational if there is a statistically significant difference between earnings with some college and earnings with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.9 We find the differential in earnings for African American males with some college and those with an associate’s or bachelor’s is statistically significant. This finding holds for the sample of males and the younger 18–24-year-old cohort (see Table 4). In 1990, the difference in average earnings of African American males with some college and those with an associate’s degree was $3,396. By 2007, this difference had increased to $6,614. Similarly, the difference in average earnings of African American males with some college and those with a bachelor’s degree was $9,957 in 1990 and $20,229 in 2007. For 18–24-year-old African American males, the difference in average earnings of African American males with some college and those with an associate’s degree was $2,610 in 1990 and



Table 4. Income Differential by Educational Attainment and Gender for Full-Time Workers. 1990 Mean








Men (18–65) Some college Associate’s Bachelor’s

$21,157 $24,553 $30,315

$3,396 $9,157

$31,064 $35,416 $45,314

$4,352 $14,250

$36,995 $43,609 $57,224

$6,614 $20,229

Men (18–24) Some college Associate’s Bachelor’s

$10,220 $12,830 $16,154

$2,610 $5,934

$15,188 $18,836 $23,412

$3,648 $8,224

$16,505 $23,341 $27,429

$6,836 $10,924

Women (18–65)a Some college Associate’s Bachelor’s

$16,715 $19,113 $24,024

$4,442 $5,440 $6,291

$24,717 $28,863 $36,311

$6,347 $6,553 $9,003

$29,940 $35,492 $46,450

$7,056 $8,117 $10,774

Women (18–24) Some college Associate’s Bachelor’s

$9,409 $11,681 $14,071

$811 $1,149 $2,083

$13,856 $16,965 $20,809

$1,331 $1,871 $2,602

$15,225 $19,991 $25,078

$1,280 $3,351 $2,351b

Household income African American







Source: 1990 and 2000 Decennial Census Public Use Micro Sample and 2007 American Community Survey Public Use Micro Sample. Accessed at: Table H-5. Race and Hispanic Origin of Householder – Households by Median and Mean Income: 1967 to 2007, US Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements. a The differences are in 2006 dollars and are between men and women of the same educational attainment and age grouping. b The only difference in the table that is statistically insignificant.

$6,836in 2007. In 1990, the difference in average earnings of 18–24-year-old African American males with some college and those with a bachelor’s degree was $5,934, but had nearly doubled by 2007 to $10,924. Given that the mean earnings of African American males with some college is greater than the median household income for African Americans, we speculate that African American males may not complete the college degree because their perception is that they are already doing as well as could be expected. We also examine the difference in earnings for African American males and females with college experience. We do so to explore the possibility that

Alternatives to Four-Year College for Black Males


African American females may be attending college at a higher rate because they earn less money than African American males with similar college experience. African American women earn less than their African American male counterparts with similar college experience. For 2007, the earnings differential for the 18–24-year-old cohort of African American men and women is not statistically significant. In addition, we examine the earnings differential across college experience.10 For all time periods, African American women with an associate’s degree earned significantly less than African American men with some college, but African American women with a bachelor’s degree earned more. Furthermore, African American women with a bachelor’s degree earned more than African American men with an associate’s degree, except in 1990 when they earned less. The statistically significant difference in earnings between African American males and females within and across levels of college experience may explain the gap in associate’s and bachelor’s degrees earned. The analysis of income differentials for African American males suggests that factors other than increased earnings enter into the decision rule to invest in college. One factor might be satisfaction with occupation status achieved without college experience or a college degree.

OCCUPATIONAL STATUS The top five occupations for African American men with no diploma did not change from 1990 to 2007, but the rank order and distribution did change (see Table 5). Although laborers and operatives and kindred workers are ranked first and second for tall these time periods, the percentage of African American males in these occupations decrease. In 1990, 34 percent of African American males were employed in the top five occupations. By 2007, the percentage employed in the top 5 occupations had decreased to 26 percent. Four of the top five occupations for 1990 and 2000 and three of the top five occupations for 2007 are the same for those with no diploma and those with a high school diploma. Operative and kindred workers, labors, and truck and tractor drivers are the top three occupations, in order, for 1990, 2000, and 2007. It is unclear if the increased representation of African American men as operatives and kindred workers, truck and tractor driver, a more autonomous occupations, or the military is the result of better

Top Five Occupations by Educational Attainment: 1990–2007.

10% 9% 5% 5% 5%

Operative and kindred workers Laborers Truck and tractor drivers Clerical and kindred workers Managers, officials, and proprietors

Laborers Operative and kindred workers Cooks, except private household Janitors and sextons Truck and tractor drivers

9% 9% 6% 5% 5%

10% 6% 5% 5% 4%


Laborers Operative and kindred workers Janitors and sextons Cooks, except private household Truck and tractor drivers

11% 9% 6% 5% 4%


Table 5.

12% 10% 7% 6% 3%

Operative and kindred workers Laborers Truck and tractor drivers Clerical and kindred workers Janitors and sextons




No diploma Laborers Operative and kindred workers Janitors and sextons Truck and tractor drivers Cooks, except private household 12% 11% 6% 6% 5%

Clerical and kindred workers

Managers, officials, and proprietors Clerical and kindred workers


High school Operative and kindred workers Laborers Truck and tractor drivers Janitors and sextons Members of the armed services



6% 6% 5%


Some college Operative and kindred workers


Operative and kindred workers Laborers Truck and tractor drivers

Clerical and kindred workers

7% 6% 5%

7% 6% 6%

Managers, officials, and proprietors Operative and kindred workers Laborers Truck and tractor drivers Laborers Members of the armed services Managers, officials, and proprietors


7% 6% 5%


Associate’s degree Managers, officials, and proprietors Clerical and kindred workers Operative and kindred workers Laborers 4%

Managers, officials, and proprietors Clerical and kindred workers Operative and kindred workers Professional, technical and kindred workers Laborers

9% 6% 6% 5% 4%

Managers, officials, and proprietors Clerical and kindred workers Operative and kindred workers Professional, technical and kindred workers Guards, watchmen, and doorkeepers


6% 5% 5%



6% 5%


Managers, officials, and proprietors Professional, technical and kindred workers Teachers Clerical and kindred workers



7% 5%

Salesmen and sales clerks


Managers, officials, and proprietors Professional, technical and kindred workers Teachers Clerical and kindred workers



6% 4%

Salesmen and sales clerks



Members of the armed services Bachelor’s degree Managers, officials, and proprietors Teachers Clerical and kindred workers Professional, technical and kindred workers Salesmen and sales clerks

Alternatives to Four-Year College for Black Males

Source: 1990 and 2000 Decennial Census Public Use Micro Sample and 2007 American Community Survey Public Use Micro Sample. Accessed at:




education credentials, on the job training, affirmative action or other antidiscrimination measures. However by 2000, clerical and kindred workers is ranked fourth in 2000 and 2007 for those with a high school diploma replacing the military as a top five occupation and is also a top five occupation for those with some college. By 2007, managers, officials, or proprietor are on the top five occupations list, replacing janitors and sextons, and is also a top five occupation for those with some college. This suggests that better education credentials expand occupation opportunities and the clerical workers in 2000 have been promoted to managers and is a sign of occupational mobility.11 Additionally, the percentage of African American males employed in the top five occupations is over one-third for all three time periods. For the associate’s degree, the percentage of African American males employed in the top 5 occupations is approximately 30 percent for all three time periods. The increase in education has afforded African American males the opportunity to lead – as managers, officials, and proprietors followed by clerks and operatives for 1990, 2000, and 2007. The top five occupations for some college are strikingly similar to those of the associate’s degree. By 2007, 1 out of every 10 African American males was employed as a manager, official, or proprietor. The sheep’s skin effect has also reduced the percentage employed as laborers or in the armed forces. As degree attainment has increased, the percentage of African American men employed as operatives and kindred workers, laborers, janitors and sextons, or truck and tractor drivers has decreased. The top five occupations for African American males with a bachelor’s degree do not include any of these occupations. Instead, they have been replaced with the following occupations: teachers, professional, technical and kindred workers, and salesman and sales clerk. We also find an increase in the number of African Americans employed as mangers, officials, and proprietors from 12 percent in 1990 to 16 percent in 2007. We were surprised to find that approximately 1 out of every 20 African American males reported teaching as an occupation. This sounds like good news, but is it? Yes, if these occupations do not exhibit a type of labor market discrimination referred to as ‘‘crowding,’’ the clustering of African American males into certain occupations, usually the less desirable jobs, which increases the supply of workers and decreases the wages (Bergmann, 1971). If African American males are overrepresented (underrepresented) in a occupation, then the occupation is ‘‘crowded’’ (‘‘crowed-out’’). A comparison of the top five occupations for African

Alternatives to Four-Year College for Black Males


American males to tables and graphs of occupational crowding by Hamilton and Darity (forthcoming) finds several interesting trends. First, janitors and sextons, truck and tractor drivers, and the military are occupations, which were ‘‘crowded.’’ For janitors and sextons, the overrepresentation of African American men decreased from 76 percent in 1990 to 49 percent in 2000. The overrepresentation for African American men in the military was 70 percent in 2000 down from 99 percent in 1990 and the overrepresentation as truck and tractor drivers was 12 percent in 1990 and zero percent in 2000. Second, for African American males, professional, technical and kindred workers, managers, officials, proprietors, and operatives and kindred workers were occupations that showed relatively little changes in ‘‘crowded’’ occupations from 1990 to 2000. However, professional, technical and kindred and operatives and kindred workers had an increase in the number of ‘‘crowded-out’’ occupations over the time period from 1990 to 2000, but mangers, officials, and proprietors had a decrease in the number of ‘‘crowded-out’’ occupations over the same time period for African American males. African American males gained access to more laborers occupations as the percentage of occupations with no ‘‘crowding’’ increased from zero percent in 1990 to approximately 50 percent in 2000, but less access to sales occupations as the percentage of occupations with no ‘‘crowding’’ decreased while the percentage of ‘‘crowded-out’’ occupations increased. In 1990, approximately 85 percent of the clerical and kindred occupations were ‘‘crowded’’ with African American males and African American males were ‘‘crowded-out’’ of about 7 percent of these occupations. Finally, in high (low) education-wage occupations African American males have been historically ‘‘crowded-out’’ (‘‘crowded’’). Analysis of the top five occupations provides insight into the mostly likely employment opportunities by educational attainment, but not earnings. In Table 6, we report median nominal earnings, in 2006 dollars, for the top five occupations by educational attainment. Table 6 reveals several interesting trends. First, occupational rank does not correspond to higher earnings, which is consistent with Hamilton (2008) and Hamilton and Darity (2008) findings on occupational crowding. Second, for those without a college diploma, the median earnings in 2007 were generally lower than their earnings in 1990 or 2000. For those with no diploma or a high school diploma, median earnings for the top thee occupations decreased from 1990 to 2007. On average, the median earnings for African American males without a college diploma decreased from 1990 to 2007, while median earnings increased for those with a college diploma.



Table 6.

Median Nominal Wages for Top Five Occupations: By Educational Attainment. Top Five Occupation 1





1990 No diploma High school Some college Associate’s degree Bachelor’s degree

$18,499 $27,666 $32,451 $44,754 $51,335

$24,411 $20,173 $30,921 $36,534 $40,685

$19,529 $29,294 $21,156 $33,168 $40,685

$26,039 $21,156 $25,739 $26,039 $53,764

$14,521 $19,529 $39,058 $30,921 $45,568

2000 No diploma High school Some college Associate’s degree Bachelor’s degree

$18,169 $27,860 $29,071 $42,395 $54,508

$21,803 $24,226 $38,761 $32,705 $54,508

$19,381 $32,705 $31,493 $36,339 $41,184

$14,717 $24,226 $25,437 $46,029 $36,339

$29,071 $22,651 $36,339 $31,493 $48,451

2007 No diploma High school Some college Associate’s degree Bachelor’s degree

$16,696 $25,298 $40,476 $43,512 $60,714

$18,214 $20,238 $28,333 $33,241 $56,667

$11,637 $32,381 $30,357 $33,545 $40,476

$18,214 $23,274 $24,286 $50,595 $36,429

$28,333 $35,417 $35,417 $32,381 $48,571

Source: 1990 and 2000 Decennial Census Public Use Micro Sample and 2007 American Community Survey Public Use Micro Sample. Accessed at:

CONCLUSION We examined incarceration rates, labor force participation, and earnings differentials between those with a college degree and those with some college as factors, which might compete with or affect the degree attainment of African American males. Even when the number of 18–24-year-old African American males incarcerated increased, we find that the number of African American males 18–24 years old enrolled in college had a larger increase suggesting that incarceration is not a plausible explanation for the growth rate in degree attainment for African American males. Although a majority of African American males reported being employed or in the military, a growing percentage of African American males reported ‘‘not [being] in the labor force.’’ For 1990, 2000, and 2007, the percentage of African American males without college experience and reporting ‘‘not

Alternatives to Four-Year College for Black Males


[being] in the labor force’’ was over 70 percent. The percentage difference between African American males with some college and no college diploma or a high school diploma is on average 28 and 15 percent, respectively.12 Our analysis of labor force participation supports Dunn’s (1988) findings that African American males may see college as a waste of time, but not his suggestion that the military is an alternative to investing in college. Dunn reports the primary reason why African American males do not invest in college is that they desire ‘‘quick money’’ that can be earned from blue-collar jobs.13 In general, the top five occupations for African American males without college experience are blue-collar jobs and employ approximately 30 percent of African American males. However, the median earnings for these occupations decreased from 1990 to 2007. Additional support for the ‘‘quick money’’ claim is the increase in the percentage of African American males with some college from 1990 to 2007, but no corresponding increase in the percentage with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in later years. Furthermore, we find significant differences between the earnings of those with some college and those with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, factors other than increased earnings appear to influence the decision of African American males to complete the degree. Finally, the gap in degree attainment between African American men and women may be driven by economics. Specifically, African American males earn more than their female counter parts with similar college experience and degree attainment. The policy implications of our finding are simple. The rhetoric about more African American males being incarcerated than enrolled in college needs to cease as it misleading. Assuming Dunn’s finding are correct, then African American males need to be educated about the increased earnings potential from completing the associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the costs of completing these degrees must decrease so that foregone earnings are no longer a competing with the decision to complete the degree. Finally, our findings suggest that more research needs to be done examining the reasons why African American males stop-out or drop-out of college that extend beyond academics and financial aid, but include family responsibilities and perceptions about earnings.

NOTES 1. Here cost include direct, tuition, fees, etc., and indirect, forgone wages. See Becker (1994) for a more detail explanation. 2. Table 324, Digest of Education Statistics: 2007, NCES 2008-022, March 2008.



3. Figure 1, The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings, P23-210, United States Census Bureau, July 2002. 4. Figure 7, The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings, P23-210, United States Census Bureau, July 2002. 5. See Present Value of Estimated Lifetime Earnings, Technical Paper 16 and The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings, P23-210, United States Census Bureau, July 2002. 6. Nelson (2006). 7. Mauer, King, and Young (2004). 8. Equal Justice Initiative (2007). 9. The decision is rational only in the pure economic sense. Familiar obligations may make said decision irrational. 10. We thank William Spriggs for this suggestion. He argues that African American women are attending college at a higher rate because they do not earn as much as men with lower levels of college experience or degree attainment. 11. Having better educational credentials does not negate but complements the impact of on the job training, affirmative action, or antidiscrimination laws because African American men are now ‘‘qualified’’ applicants in the pool. 12. Contact authors for this table. 13. Dunn’s findings are from a survey of African American men and women enrolled at Mississippi Valley State University. The student’s perspective is mostly likely influence by their experiences as paid blue-collar jobs generally have not been available to Black men, and they have been disappearing for all men over the past 25 years.

REFERENCES Becker, G. S. (1994). Human capital. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Bergmann, B. R. (1971). The effect on White incomes of discrimination in employment. Journal of Political Economy, 29(2), 294–313. Carter, D. F. (2006). Key issues in the persistence of underrepresented minority students. New Directions for Institutional Research, 130, 33–46. Carter, D. F. (2007). Digest of education statistics. Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics. Dunn, J. R. (1988). The shortage of Black male students in the college classroom: Consequences and causes. The Western Journal of Black Studies, 12(2), 73–76. Equal Justice Initiative. (2007, November). Cruel and unusual sentencing 13- and 14-year-old children to die in prison. Retrieved February 19, 2009, from Equal Justice Initiative: Hamilton, D. E., & Darity, W. A., Jr. (2008, August). Crowded out forever? An analysis of ethinic and racial occupational crowding over the last half century. Paper presented as the annual meeting of American Sociological Association Annual Meetings, Boston, MA. Hamilton, D. E., & Darity, W. A., Jr. (Forthcoming). Crowded out? The racial composition of American Occupations. In: C. C. James Jackson (Ed.), Research methodology in Black communities. Oxford University Press.

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Mauer, M., King, R. S., & Young, M. C. (2004, May). The sentencing project. Retrieved February 19, 2008, from The Sentencing Project: Admin/Documents/publications/inc_meaningoflife.pdf Nelson, G. (1967). Present value of estimated lifetime earnings. Washington, DC: US Goverment Printing Office. Nelson, G. (2006, February 10). Reach shorten on law to smoke out drug offenders. Retrieved February 19, 2008, from The Michigan Daily: System, I. P. (n.d.). WebCASPAR integrated science and engineering resources data system. Retrieved October 28, 2008, from ¼ WebCASPARHome System, I. P. (2002). The big payoff: Educatonal attainment and synthetic estimates of work-life earnings. Washington, DC: United States Census Bureau. US Census Bureau. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2008, from Historical Income TablesHouseholds: Wilson, V. R. (2007). One equal ground: Causes and solutions for lower college completion rates among Black males. In: N. U. League (Ed.), The state of Black America 2007: Portrait of the Black male (pp. 123–131). New York: Beckham Publications Group, Inc.

OVERCOMING BARRIERS: CHARACTERISTICS OF BLACK MALE FRESHMEN BETWEEN 1971 AND 2004 Kimberly A. Griffin, Uma M. Jayakumar, Malana M. Jones and Walter R. Allen In 1999, Suskind’s book A Hope in the Unseen introduced us to Cedric Jennings, a low-income, Black male high-school student with high goals and aspirations. Upon first glance, many would suggest Cedric has the chips of life stacked against him. Growing up in a Washington, DC, inner city neighborhood, Cedric had few college-bound role models or sources of postsecondary information in his home or community. Cedric’s father has two bachelor’s degrees, but was in and out of prison and plays little role in his life. His mother was warm and encouraging, frequently attending PTA meetings and encouraging her son to go to college. But as a hard-working single parent without a college education, she could offer little financial support or specific guidance. Some may suggest Cedric’s school should have been able to offer him the assistance he would need to successfully navigate the college preparation and choice process. However, Cedric’s highly segregated urban high school offered little in terms of resources or support. Given economic inequities by race and housing segregation in the United States, African American, Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 155–179 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006013




Latino, and Native American parents are less able to afford to live in the expensive neighborhoods served by wealthy school districts (Massey & Denton, 1993). The re-segregation of American neighborhoods has also led to a re-segregation of public education, concentrating Black students at urban schools with significantly fewer resources than the suburban schools their White counterparts attend (Allen, 1988; Cohen & Nee, 2000; Gandara & Maxwell-Jolly, 1999). Urban schools tend to have lower perstudent expenditures, fewer resources, and are more likely to have classes taught by less experienced and out-of-major instructors when compared to suburban schools with predominantly White enrollments (Frankenberg & Lee, 2002; Kozol, 2005), presenting challenges as students enrolled in these schools prepare for college. In spite of those who urged him to ‘‘aim low’’ or suggested college was out of reach, Cedric’s ambition and goals loomed large. While the SAT scores Cedric consistently tried to raise may indicate otherwise, he is a strong math and science student and was one of the most able students at his high school, maintaining a 4.02 average. He dreamt of attending the most prestigious institutions in the country. Hard work, a strong will, and determination allowed him to open the doors to two of these schools – MIT for a summer program and Brown University for college. In many ways, Cedric’s story guides our work, and we will explore our findings in relation to his documented experiences at the end of this chapter. While no one who hears or reads Cedric’s story would suggest his journey was an easy one, he stands as an example of one of the many Black men who are overcoming the barriers they face and making their way to American colleges and universities. The high-school completion rate for Black males increased from 66.0% in 1980 to 72% in 2006. Just over 17% of Black men between the ages of 18 and 24 years were enrolled in college in 1980; this statistic had risen to 27.7% by 2006 (Ryu, 2008). This translates to an increase of almost 200,000 students, with 722,441 Black male students on college campuses in 2006 (Ryu, 2008). Despite these promising trends, it would be negligent to not ask ourselves how often we see students like Cedric on college campuses, and how often the barriers he and other African American men face are too challenging to overcome. Black men continue to be underrepresented among high-school graduates and college students, but overrepresented among those who fail courses and drop out from high school. For example, while 73.4% of Black men were high-school graduates in 2002, over 80% of Black women in the same age group completed high school (Harvey & Anderson, 2005). Recent work suggests that these statistics are actually inflated, and the disparities

Overcoming Barriers


between Black males and their peers in terms of high-school completion are far more dire (Heilig & Reddick, 2008). According to a recent Schott Foundation report (2008), over 50% of Black male students did not graduate with their classmates in the 2005–2006 academic year. Disparities in high-school achievement, attainment, and completion are far reaching and certainly have negative implications for the matriculation of Black males into college. Consistent with trends across all students, considerable gains have been made in the college enrollment of Black students in recent decades. However, there have unfortunately been few changes in Black male representation on college campuses. In 1976, 4.3% of all post-secondary students were Black men; this statistic remained virtually unchanged through 2006, when Black men made up 4.1% of all college students (Ryu, 2008). Again, we see that these disparities have not affected the Black community equally. Perhaps partially attributable to differences observed in primary and secondary educational attainment, Black women are more likely than Black men to enter post-secondary education. Just over one-quarter of Black males (27.7%) and more than one-third of Black females (37.2%) between 18 and 24 years are enrolled in college (Ryu, 2008). We often attend to disparities in learning environments and opportunities, high-school completion rates, college entrance, and degree attainment between Black men and women or Black and White males; however, we have little sense of the Black men who gain access to college campuses. In other words, there are many Black males like Cedric who have managed to overcome barriers and gain access to college, but we have little sense of who they are and the characteristics they possess. How can we describe these men, demographically? What does the population of Black men who gain access to college look like? In this chapter, we aim to explore whether men like Cedric are an anomaly on today’s college campuses, or whether they have a presence larger than previously documented. Further, it is important to gain a deeper knowledge of how the average Black male college freshman is changing. Are there characteristics that have become increasingly central to the educational achievement of Black men over time? Gaining a greater understanding of the Black men who are entering college and how this group is changing can help identify characteristics critical to facilitating college access for this community, and assist educational leaders and policymakers in developing programs and initiatives targeted at increasing the presence of Black males on college campuses. As we consider the characteristics of the Black men gaining access to college and how they have changed over time, we also draw attention to the diversity within the African American male community. Many see



African American men as a monolithic group based on broad and prevalent social stereotypes which frame them often as criminals, sometimes as athletes or entertainers, but extremely rarely as successful, college-bound students (Fries-Britt & Griffin, 2007; O’Connor, 1999). In addition to acknowledging struggles Black men face, we seek to highlight their heterogeneity and stories of success within this community. As we call attention to the wide range of characteristics and experiences Black males bring to their respective college campuses, we compare and contrast the backgrounds and academic experiences of Black males choosing to attend predominantly White institutions (PWIs) and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). While there is a great deal of diversity within these broad categorizations of institutions, the similarity in mission, especially across HBCUs, promotes opportunities for a meaningful understanding of students choosing to attend these institutions. There is some understanding of the different ways in which these institutions work to shape the college experiences and outcomes of Black men (e.g., Allen, 1992; Davis, 1994; Fleming, 1984); however, we have less often attended in a focused way to the differences and similarities between men entering these institutions or how they may have changed in the last 30 years. To address these issues and increase our knowledge about Black male collegians, we explore data collected over the past four decades coupled with research related to three common barriers facing Black males as they pursue their goal of pursuing a post-secondary education: post-secondary motivation and aspirations, academic achievement, and socioeconomic factors. Examining existing research alongside trends data collected by the Higher Educational Research Institute (HERI) affords a unique opportunity to observe how cited barriers to college access manifest in the characteristics, skill development, and behaviors of the Black men who are able to overcome these challenges and enter post-secondary institutions. Following our analysis, we discuss our findings and offer implications for improving access to college for Black males.

METHODOLOGY Our analyses and conclusions are based on both research literature on college access for African American males and the survey responses of 214,951 full-time, first-time African American male freshmen between 1971 and 2004. First, we reviewed literature on the experiences of African American male high-school students and the common barriers facing their

Overcoming Barriers


matriculation to college. We organized findings from the research into broad themes emerging from the literature, guided by Swail, Cabrera, Lee, and Williams’s Integrated Model for Student Success (2005). Based on this framework, college access and academic achievement are not based on a single factor or one dimension; rather, they are constructed through a complex interaction of multiple dimensions. Swail and colleagues delineate these factors into three categories: cognitive, social, and institutional/ systemic. Cognitive factors take place largely inside the student and relate to the skills, abilities, and knowledge students have which prepare them for higher education, including academic preparation, post-secondary planning, and college knowledge (Swail, Redd, & Perna, 2003; Swail et al., 2005). Social factors exist largely outside the student, and capture the ways in which those who have relationships with students can influence their access to post-secondary education. The social dimension includes a student’s cultural history, family influence, financial issues and socioeconomic status, and ability to interact with peers (Swail, 2003; Swail et al., 2005). Finally the institutional/systemic dimension captures the ability of institutions to influence and shape student efforts to reach their college goals. High-school resources and support, outreach programs, and opportunities for financial aid could all be considered within this dimension of the framework (Swail, 2003; Swail et al., 2005). As discussed above, much scholarship has addressed the influence of school context, teacher perceptions, and tracking on Black male achievement (e.g., Gordon, Gordon, & Nembhard, 1994; O’Connor, 1997; Oakes, 2005); however, attention to institutional forces is largely outside of our analyses. We certainly acknowledge the importance of educational context; however, our analyses focus on student and social factors related to achievement. This decision was made largely based on the ability of our survey data to offer more depth and more clearly inform the cognitive and social barriers, rather than the systemic forces, students face which inhibit college access. The literature on the cognitive and social forces critical to the success of Black male students was then compared to and used to frame findings emerging from survey data collected over several decades. Specifically, the survey data utilized in this study were drawn from a larger sample of 541,824 Black freshmen attending 1,112 baccalaureate-granting colleges and universities who participated in the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) over the past three decades. The CIRP is a nationwide longitudinal study of American higher education (Astin, Oseguera, Sax, & Korn, 2002) administered by the HERI at the University of California, Los



Angeles. All CIRP participants completed the Student Information Form (SIF), a pre-college survey administered early in students’ first year of college. It is designed to assess students’ high-school and family experiences, background characteristics, beliefs, and expectations they bring to their campus. The SIF has been issued annually since 1966, and reaches almost 400,000 students at 700 institutions yearly. Responses were statistically weighted to estimate the national population of first-time, full-time Black freshmen during that time period. The weighting procedure is designed to compensate for over- and undersampling of institutional participants based on institutional control, type, and selectivity.1 Thus, this sample and the information they shared can be understood as being representative of the approximately 3.6 million Black students who entered college between 1971 and 2004. Much like reports such as The American Freshman: Thirty-Five Year Trends (Astin et al., 2002) and Black Undergraduates from Bakke to Grutter: Freshman Status, Trends and Prospects, 1971–2004 (Allen, Jayakumar, Griffin, Korn, & Hurtado, 2005), the quantitative aspect of this project was conducted as a trends analysis (Loether & McTavish, 1976). Trends analysis involves the plotting and observation of changes in data over time, and is particularly useful in exploring changes in survey responses over a series of days, months, or, as in this case, years. This method allowed the researchers to provide a broad descriptive overview of how Black male freshmen have embodied the cognitive, social, and institutional forces shaping college access over a 30-year period. Students’ responses to questions on the SIF representing various indicators of post-secondary motivation and aspirations, academic achievement, and socioeconomic status were aggregated by year and examined across the full 30-year time period. Changes in aggregate data were calculated to represent evidence of upward and downward trends in specific data points.

FINDINGS African Americans continue to face systematic, political, and social barriers in their attempts at attaining college degrees (Oakes, Rogers, Lipton, & Morrell, 2000). Black males in particular have had an increasingly difficult time gaining entry into higher education (Harvey & Anderson, 2005). Given legitimate concerns over decreased access on one hand and misleading stereotypes propagated by the media on the other, discussions concerning Black males and educational attainment are usually not about academic


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success. Our findings broach this less frequently discussed topic by looking at the experiences of students like Cedric who have been able to overcome the many barriers and persist to college entry. We present key trends in the academic achievement, motivation, and socioeconomic background of Black males who are gaining access to college in order to gain a better understanding of college-going practices of Black male freshman at HBCUs and PWIs.

Cognitive Forces Motivation Whether it is in the educational literature, policy discussions, or the public eye, African American males are disproportionately discussed within a deficit framework. Part and parcel to this framework is the notion that academic failure is a result of deficiencies tied to the individuals themselves (i.e., cognitive and/or motivational limitations, family deficits and dysfunctions). Several scholars have blamed the trends we observe in academic attainment and college matriculation for Black males on their lack of general ability, low aspirations, low levels of motivation, or a fear of being perceived as ‘‘acting White’’ (e.g., D’Souza, 1995; McWhorter, 2000; Ogbu, 2003; Thernstrom & Thernstrom, 2004). According to Valencia (1997), the deficit-thinking paradigm posits that students who fail in school do so because of internal deficiencies (e.g., cognitive and/or motivational limitations) or shortcomings socially linked to the student (e.g., familial deficits and dysfunctions). This viewpoint is appealing in that it provides a simple explanation that both absolves those in privileged positions of any guilt and does not require systematic changes that might shake up the status quo. However, these principles do not hold up when viewed in tandem with a literature which suggests Black students generally, and Black males specifically, are not the unmotivated and disinterested students they are described as being. Several studies examining the motivation patterns of Black students reveal they are different rather than deficient when compared to those of White students (Cokley, 2003; Graham, 1994; van Laar, 2000). Further, scholars suggest Black students report educational aspirations which match or exceed those of their White counterparts and place greater importance on getting a college degree (Ainsworth-Darnell & Downey, 1998; Signer & Saldana, 2001; Solo´rzano, 1992).



Similar trends were observed in our analysis of the trends emerging from the HERI data. In terms of motivation, the majority of Black males entering both HBCUs and PWIs rated themselves in the top 10% with regard to their drive to achieve. Their self-rated drive increased from 57.5% and 64.3% for Black men at HBCUs and PWIs, respectively, in 1971, to 77.2% and 76.2% by 2004. Black males also acknowledged the importance of a college education, citing various reasons for which they decided to go to college. Many of the top motivators appeared to be related to social mobility. ‘‘To be able to make more money’’ received the highest rating, with 82.9% of the Black males surveyed in 2004 indicating it was an important factor motivating their decision to pursue a post-secondary education. With regard to choosing a particular college, the top three reasons given by Black men had to do with future financial and job prospects or current financial realities. College academic reputation was rated as very important by 49.6% of Black men in 2004. Similarly, 46.4% felt it was very important that the colleges’ graduates get good jobs. Similar to observations in students’ drive to achieve, the degree aspirations of Black males have consistently risen across time. In 1975, 32.5% of Black males aspired to Master’s degrees, 15.7% to PhDs, and 14.5% to professional degrees (i.e., MD, DDS, or JD). By 2004, Black males expressed greater interest in Master’s degrees and PhDs (38.9% and 20.8%, respectively), with slightly less interest in professional degrees (12.2%). Interestingly, in 1971, whereas Black males at HBCUs expressed greater interest in obtaining Master’s and PhDs (51.1%) than those at PWIs (46.3%), Black males at PWIs expressed greater interest earning professional degrees (17.0% at PWIs vs. 10.6% at HBCUs). By 2004, however, Black males and HBCUs and PWIs matched with respect to their high ambitions: in each category 60% aspired to Master’s and PhDs and 12% wanted professional degrees. Academic Achievement and Preparation Despite expressing a significant value of and desire to attend college, as noted above, Black males continue to be less likely to complete high school and attend college than both White males and Black females (Harper, 2006; Holzman, 2006). Jackson (2003) notes, ‘‘In almost every category of academic failure, African American males are disproportionately represented’’ (p. 45), and there is widespread evidence Black males are more likely than their female counterparts to fail high-school courses, fail out of high school in general, and be underprepared for college-level coursework (Cohen & Nee, 2000; Holzman, 2006; Roderick, 2003). These declines in

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academic performance are especially devastating in light of the increased competition for seats in post-secondary institutions (Davies & Hammack, 2005). For example, the SAT scores needed for entry into prestigious private and public institutions have been steadily rising in recent decades. Perhaps reflective of the need for increasingly strong academic credentials to gain access to college, comparisons of the 1971 and 2004 cohorts of firstyear African American male students reveal significant upward trends in overall academic achievement and preparation. In 1971, just over 5% of African American males achieved A averages in high school. By 2004, almost one-fifth (19.8%) of Black males entered college with high-school GPAs equivalent to A or Aþ. On average, Black males enrolling at PWIs reported higher levels of academic achievement than males at HBCUs. In 1971, 8.2% of Black males at PWIs and 2.4% of males at HBCUs had A averages in high school. This trend was consistent at each time point and the gap had widened by 2004. Almost 23% of Black male PWI students and 14.7% of Black male HBCU students reported a high-school GPA of A or above in that year. On the lower end of the GPA scale, there were accordingly Black males with C averages who appeared more likely to gain access to college through HBCUs than PWIs. In 1971, 48% of Black males at HBCUs and 34.4% of males at PWIs had C averages in high school. By 2004, far fewer Black males were getting into these schools with C averages (16.2% at PWIs and 27.2% at HBCUs). Although Black students who attend HBCUs do not necessarily have fewer options or lesser academic abilities (Freeman & Thomas, 2002), our data suggest that HBCUs are doing a better job of facilitating access for Black males with high potential but relatively lower academic records. Interestingly, even when Black males come in with lower academic credentials at HBCUs, several scholars have shown the supportive environment and academic opportunities they encounter lead them to express aspirations and academically perform at similar, or in some cases higher, levels than their counterparts at PWIs (Allen, 1992; Kim & Conrad, 2006; Seifert, Drummond, & Pascarella, 2006). The fact that HBCUs work with students often in greater need of academic support and development, and often do so with fewer resources than are available at PWIs, makes these outcomes particularly important and impressive (Allen, Jewell, Griffin, & Wolf, 2007; Kim & Conrad, 2006), speaking to the important role HBCUs play in the development of Black students generally, and males specifically. In addition to upward trends in academic achievement, Black men getting into college are increasingly exceeding subject requirements for high-school



graduation. In 1984, 87.5% of men at PWIs and 84% of men at HBCUs completed more than the three required years of math courses. By 2004, there was an increase of almost 10 percentage points, with 96.7% and 95.8% of Black men at PWIs and HBCUs, respectively, exceeding levels of required math coursework. While the increases over time were small (4 percentage points), Black men were also consistently completing their required coursework in English; in 2004, 96.5% of Black men at PWIs and 95.3% of those at HBCUs met or exceeded the four years of required English coursework. Finally, there were greater increases observed in the completion of science requirements among men at PWIs than HBCUs. For example, 39.6% of Black men at PWIs exceeded two years of coursework in biological sciences in 2004 (compared to 35.8% in 1984). The increase in the number of Black males who exceeded their biological sciences requirements at HBCUs, in comparison, was somewhat less notable, increasing from 34.6% in 1984 to 35.6% in 2004. Thus, in addition to coming to college with higher grade point averages, it appears that Black men entering PWIs arrive at college with more academic preparation and having completed more courses than their peers at HBCUs. Self-Concept and Confidence Consistent with improvements or gains in levels of academic achievement and preparation, Black men’s self-ratings of their academic abilities have also increased over the past 30 years. Black men were increasingly likely to rate themselves in the top 10% of students their age in terms of academic ability, math ability, writing ability, and leadership ability. Between 1971 and 2004, the percentage of Black males who considered themselves in the top 10% as compared to their peers in academic ability increased from 34.5% to 64.2%; perceptions of leadership ability increased from 43.5% to 68.5%; and intellectual self-confidence increased from 44.2% to 75.5%. While self-ratings were similar across institutional types, Black males who chose to attend PWIs expressed greater confidence in academic abilities than counterparts entering HBCUs. For example, in 2004, 66.4% of PWI Black male freshmen and 60.5% of HBCU Black male freshmen rated themselves above average or in the top 10% in academic ability. Black males attending PWIs rated themselves higher on leadership ability and intellectual selfconfidence than men attending HBCUs from the 1970s to the end of the century. There was a shift in 2000, however, and Black males entering HBCUs looked much like their peers at PWIs in terms of leadership and intellectual self-confidence. In fact, in 2004, 68.9% of Black men entering HBCUs and 68.2% of Black men entering PWIs rated themselves in the top


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10% of students their age in leadership ability. And in the case of some categories, Black men entering HBCUs perceived themselves as being more confident than their peers at PWIs. For example, 78.0% of Black men attending HBCUs rated themselves in the top 10% in terms of intellectual self-confidence, as compared to 73.9% of men attending PWIs.

Social Forces Financial Resources Individual drive and motivation are both key to gaining access to higher education. Yet it is important to remember that family resources also can profoundly influence educational opportunities (Hossler, Braxton, & Coopersmith, 1989). The importance of family income adds grave disadvantages in college access along racial lines. Despite the growth in the size of the African American middle class, African Americans are overrepresented in the lowest socioeconomic levels (Brown, 2003). African American males, and for that matter females, are more likely to be unemployed than equally educated Whites. In addition, the median income for Black families in 2001 was only 62% of that of White families. This is but one indication of the wage and wealth disparities between Blacks and Whites which persist over time (Oliver & Shapiro, 1997; Brown, 2003). These economic disparities translate into diminished rates of college attendance. For example, numerous researchers show wealth and family income are directly linked to academic achievement, college attendance, and, somewhat surprisingly, the receipt of scholarships (Binder, Ganderton, & Hutchens, 2002; Dynarski, 2002; Orfield & Eaton, 1996; Perna & Titus, 2004). Marable (2003) reports 65% of all students whose families earn more than $75,000 a year attend college, compared to 24% of students whose families earn less than $25,000. Fitzgerald and Delaney (2002) found that students with high levels of academic ability but low levels of financial resources are frequently shut out of college, noting ‘‘the college-going rate of the highestsocioeconomic-status students with the lowest achievement levels is the same level as the poorest students with the highest achievement levels’’ (p. 17). Considering the overrepresentation of Black’s among America’s poorest families, it is likely many able and talented Black males do not attend college (especially four-year compared to two-year and trade institutions) simply because their families lack the necessary financial resources. Over the past several decades, increases in the cost of college attendance have outpaced inflation. Financial downturns have only exacerbated concerns.



Private agencies, donors, and state governments have cut their investments in higher education, spurring institutions to increase tuition further to cover costs. While there are funding opportunities to support students’ college dreams, federal grants have been replaced with loans, which are often seen as less favorable and more risky. Significant loan debt may deter otherwise able students who fear the repercussions of borrowing significant amounts of money for an education that may not produce substantial financial returns. The importance of socioeconomic factors in terms of college access also emerged in our analyses. Despite some increases during the mid-1980s, the percentage of Black male freshmen overall from low-income families2 declined more than five percentage points over time (38.6% in 1971 to 33.2% in 2004). There were also shifts in the proportion of Black males who came from families with incomes in the highest SIF categories. In 1971, less than 1% of Black males reported family incomes in the highest income category, salaries in excess of $40,000 a year. By comparison, the highest income category in 2004 was $200,000 or above, and 3.1% entering Black males indicated this family income. There were also differences in the affluence of Black male students based on the type of institution they chose to attend. Compared to PWIs, HBCUs enrolled larger proportions of Black males from poorer families and this trend was consistent over time. Regardless of institutional type, trends revealed male students are from families with higher incomes than their female counterparts. In 2004, 14% of Black men attending HBCUs and 10% of Black women came from families with incomes above $100,000; at PWIs those figures were 17% and 12%, respectively. Thus, the enrollment of more low-income and fewer high-income Black students at HBCUs as compared to PWIs appears to be a trend consistent across gender. It is important to note the observed increases in the affluence of collegebound Black males’ families did not necessarily result in marked declines in the importance of financial aid in their college choice process. While a larger proportion of Black male students noted that the financial assistance they were offered played an important role in their institutional choice process in 1972 than 2004 (46.1% vs. 44.6%), these declines appear quite small as compared to the increases in the number of students from middle- and highincome backgrounds. Further, while the importance of financial aid in the decision-making process appeared to decline in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it increased steadily thereafter, likely due to the steep increases observed in tuition costs.

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Freeman and Thomas (2002) suggest Black students often choose to attend PWIs for the level of financial aid offered and HBCUs for the lowtuition alternative they present. We acknowledge that there is great variation in the tuition of HBCUs. Similar to PWIs, private HBCUs are more expensive to attend than those that are public, and these campuses rarely have endowments large enough to offset the cost of attendance. However, our data offer some support for Freeman and Thomas’s work. When observed over time, Black male freshmen attending PWIs tended to more strongly consider the financial assistance they were offered when choosing a college than students attending HBCUs. For example, in 1972, 50.0% of Black males attending PWIs and 41.2% of Black males attending HBCUs reported placing a great deal of emphasis on financial aid. While the gap narrowed by 2004, Black males at PWIs continued to be more likely to view financial aid as very important in their decision-making process when compared to their peers at HBCUs (45.8% vs. 42.6%). Alternatively, Black males at HBCUs more often noted that low tuition played a role in their choice process as compared to Black male freshmen at PWIs (29.4% vs. 23.3% in 2004). Parental Education Closely related to trends in family income, the scholarship addressing the college preparation and attendance patterns of Black students show they are less likely than Whites and Asians to have college-educated parents (Cota-Robles & Gordan, 1999). Better educated parents can enhance academic outcomes and college-going by providing more information and assistance to their children. For instance, highly educated parents are more likely to realize student needs for tutoring, push for college preparatory classes, and arrange college visits (Cota-Robles & Gordan, 1999). Perhaps most importantly, these parents are more likely to have the supplemental income to finance activities which improves their child’s educational opportunities. Courses for standardized test preparation, extra tutoring, private college counselors, and trips to visit college campuses are all opportunities which can better prepare students and make them more competitive and savvy as they proceed through the college choice process. However, the expense of these opportunities can be overwhelming for many parents, particularly for those who have lower paying careers and less financial resources. Analyses reveal college-bound Black males are coming from families with higher levels of educational attainment than ever before. In 1971, 14.1% of Black male freshmen had fathers and 15.6% had mothers who were college



educated. After three decades of steady increases, over one-third of students reported having either a mother (43.1%) or a father (37.1%) that had graduated from college. Further, by 2004, 14.7% of Black male freshmen had mothers and 14.2% had fathers with graduate degrees, up from 4.6% and 5.1%, respectively, in 1971. In comparing Black men at HBCUs to their counterparts at PWIs, we found some interesting differences over time. In 1971, Black male freshmen across both institutional types were equally likely to have college-educated fathers; however, Black freshmen attending HBCUs were more likely to have college-educated mothers than their counterparts at PWIs (17.8% vs. 13.4%). Significant changes were observed over time. By 2004, there was a 16.6 percentage point difference in the proportion of Black students with college-educated fathers at PWIs (39.5%) and HBCUs (23.5%). In other words, today’s Black males at PWIs tend to have fathers with more formal education. In terms of the educational attainment of students’ mothers, the differences were much smaller. In 2004, 43.6% of Black males at PWIs had mothers with college degrees, and 42.1% of Black males at HBCUs had college-educated mothers, a difference of less than 2 percentage points. Family Influence Herndon and Hirt (2004) found that family plays an important role in Black students’ college aspirations and motivation. In addition to immediate relatives, family in this instance encompasses extended relatives, and fictive kin. With respect to choice of institutional type, Freeman and Thomas (2002) found that ties to HBCUs, whether through a family member, friend, or teacher, made Black students more likely to consider an HBCU – irrespective of the type of high school attended. The role of Black parents was increasingly important in shaping college choice processes for all Black males, especially for those entering HBCUs. In 1971, 40.1% of Black males at HBCUs and 34.2% of Black males at PWIs reported that their parents’ desire for them to attend college was very important in their decision to pursue post-secondary education. This percentage increased to 49.5% and 40.1% for Black males at HBCUs and PWIs, respectively, in 1980 and to 53.7% and 45.9%, respectively, by 1990. While decreasing slightly throughout the 1990s and early 2000, 56.1% of Black males at HBCUs and 47.0% at PWIs noted that their parents were key in shaping their college aspirations in 2004. Interestingly, parents were cited as being even more instrumental in shaping college-going practices for these students than were mentors and

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role models. In 1992, 30.2% of Black men at HBCUs and 23.6% at PWIs indicated that encouragement from a mentor or role model was very important in their decision to go to college. By 2003, a slightly smaller percentage of Black men at HBCUs (27.2%) and at PWIs (20.0%) felt the same way. Overall, support from parents seemed to have made a greater impact on Black male students’ decisions to go to college. Whether this was because parents are capable of exhorting more influence or because these students tended not to have positive mentors and role models in school and elsewhere cannot be determined from the data. However, it is indeed an important question to ask. It is also important to note that parents and family members had a larger part in helping Black males choose the specific institution they attended than others, particularly high-school teachers and guidance counselors. In 2004, 14.6% of Black male freshmen noted that their relatives’ encouragement to attend the institution was important in their choice process. In sharp contrast, ‘‘My teacher advised me’’ was among the bottom three reasons for choosing a particular college (only 7.9% of Black students surveyed in 2004 indicated that it played a very important role in their decision). Advice from a high-school guidance counselor was cited as being an important factor by 11.4% of these students, and very few received important advice from private counselors (4.8%).

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS After a challenging first year, Cedric found his way at Brown. He graduated and went on to complete Master’s programs in education at Harvard University and social work at the University of Michigan. He was able to overcome the barriers he faced and ultimately succeed. In many ways, the characteristics that Cedric exhibited that allowed him to ultimately reach his goals are consistent with the trends described above. He exhibited a great deal of confidence in his own abilities, met or exceeded all of the academic requirements necessary to graduate from high school, and was the Salutatorian of his graduating class. He had high aspirations and was driven by dreams of a better life for himself and his family. While similar to the college-bound Black men described above in terms of the more internal, cognitive forces related to college access and achievement, students like Cedric have become increasingly dissimilar from their collegebound peers over time when compared along social dimensions like financial aid and parental education. In the year Cedric entered Brown, 1995,



approximately 40% of Black male freshmen at PWIs had family incomes below $30,000 a year. By 2004, Black males from lower income families were less than one-third of the population at PWIs. While we were unable to distinguish the students in our sample by institutional selectivity, it is highly likely that we would have found that low-income students would have had an even smaller presence at the nation’s most selective institutions which closely resemble Brown. Students from the wealthiest families are overrepresented at the most prestigious schools, with low-income students making up increasingly small segments of the student body (Astin & Oseguera, 2004). Interesting observations can also be made when examining trends on parental education and family influence in concert with Cedric’s experiences. While Cedric’s father was college educated and his mother was supportive, they could offer little in terms of concrete college information or guidance. More and more men reported having college-educated parents that were guiding not only their interest in college, but also their specific institutional choices. Cedric was able to benefit from the support of a teacher who offered emotional and college preparatory support; yet, it appears he is in the minority in this case. Teachers and counselors play a surprisingly small role in the college choice process of most college-bound Black males, especially considering the positive influence they could potentially have in shaping students’ abilities to reach their goals and fulfill their aspirations. As we reflect on the findings of this study, we came together to compose a series of practical implications and recommendations to facilitate efforts to help Black males overcome the barriers they face and promote college attendance. We sincerely hope these suggestions will go on to influence policies and practices developed to promote the outcomes of African American males. There is substantial overlap in these recommendations, and in many cases implementation of one strategy would be eased by adopting another. Thus, we suggest multi-pronged approaches to supporting Black male students through the development of strategies which incorporate several of our recommendations: (1) Promote and support the efforts of HBCUs: Our findings reiterate the importance of HBCUs in promoting college access for Black males in addition to achievement, aspirations, and degree attainment. Their unique mission to educate and empower African American students, coupled at many HBCUs with a policy of open admissions, has resulted in a group of institutions which takes students with academic potential and help them develop their talent and attain academic success. These

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institutions were more likely than predominantly White schools to enroll Black males who were from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and with lower levels of academic attainment. However, the research has shown us repeatedly that Black students generally, and Black males specifically, leave HBCUs with more confidence, better grades, and higher aspirations than their counterparts at PWIs (Allen, 1987, 1992; Davis, 1994; Fleming, 1984; Kim & Conrad, 2006; Seifert et al., 2006). These environments are marked by a deep ethos of caring for student development, frequent engagement between students and faculty, and multiple opportunities for students to become engaged across campus (e.g., Allen, 1992; Allen & Jewell, 2002; Allen et al., 2007; Fleming, 1984; Nelson Laird et al., 2007; Seifert et al., 2006), all of which come together to foster student growth and achievement. Unfortunately, HBCUs have faced several struggles in recent years, including a lack of financial resources and significant debts, accreditation issues, and leadership challenges, putting these institutions at risk (Redd, 1998). These risks will only be exacerbated by the current economic climate. Further, calls to take stronger action to desegregate institutions which represent de facto dual systems of higher education have led some states to consider closing HBCUs altogether. We must take all necessary steps to support HBCUs and contest their extinction. We add our voices to those of the HBCU presidents who call for increased attendance to the financial needs of their institutions, highlighting the importance of financial investment to attend to deferred maintenance, offer financial support to their students, and better compensate faculty and staff. In the summer of 2008, the federal government committed $170 million in funding to 99 HBCUs over the subsequent two years through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. This is a good start, but these institutions are going to need consistent financial support from both government and private agencies to continue to offer access to higher education and promote positive outcomes for those who would otherwise be shut out. It is clear that HBCUs play an important part in promoting the access and achievement of Black males, and we must be thoughtful about making sure these institutions are maintained and able to continue to do their important work. However, we must also be mindful that the majority of Black students enrolled in college will attend PWIs rather than HBCUs (Allen, 1992). In order to promote outcomes for Black males similar to those we observe among those attending HBCUs, faculty, administrators, and institutional leaders at PWIs must more



widely adopt policies and initiate programs which reflect the caring environments HBCUs are able to create. Fostering opportunities for involvement in campus organizations and interactions with faculty present on historically Black campuses will promote the engagement of Black males, enhancing both their satisfaction with their environment and their learning (Griffin, Nichols, Perez, & Tuttle, 2008; Harper, 2005). (2) Enable parental involvement in the college-going process by facilitating access to information about post-secondary opportunities: Our data suggest that parents play a particularly critical role in college choice processes for Black males. In contrast to research that employs deficit frameworks to conclude that the Black community and Black parents do not value education (e.g., Ogbu, 2003), our findings indicate that over the past 30 years parents have played an important role for Black males gaining access to college. School agents, on the other hand, have fallen short. Thus, it appears that parents have a great deal of influence, but not necessarily all the information they need to help their children make informed choices, while teachers and counselors have valuable information, but do not necessarily connect with the students. Realizing this disconnect has practical implications, and re-affirms the importance of school agents who relay important information about college choice processes not only to Black male students, but also to their parents and family members. One promising avenue for doing so would involve making efforts to educate parents about a wide range of colleges (including HBCUs), necessary academic requirements, application processes, and any additional information that might facilitate college access. Given the importance of perceived psychological support from teachers and counselors as well as parents and peers, students are best served when teachers are able to involve the wider school community and to gain support from various sources that may have significance to individual students (Yeung & McInerney, 1999). Another compelling reason for school agents to utilize parents as an effective means to spread information about college is the shortage of highschool counselors. A national counselor to student ratio of 1 to 513 speaks for itself in showing that college preparation needs to come from others who are in constant interaction with students (McDonough, 2005). (3) Encourage and prepare teachers and counselors to engage Black males and assist them in the college choice process: Research indicates that ‘‘the expectations that teachers and counselors have of students are

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integral to the development and maintenance of college aspirations’’ (McDonough, 2005, p. 12). This study raises some red flags about the quality of experiences that Black male students are having with school agents. One of the more troubling findings in this study of talented and academically successful Black males is the relatively small role that school agents seemed to play in influencing their college-going practices. Black males in this study only minimally attributed their decision to attend college and their choice of a particular institution to support and information they received from teachers and counselors. While nothing conclusive can be said about the role of teachers and counselors in shaping academic aspirations given that we could not delve more deeply into such an exploration with this data set, these findings are nonetheless worthy of attention. Teachers and counselors are in a unique and contradictory position: they can act as advocates that raise awareness of educational opportunities and provide support or act as gatekeepers who block access to those same opportunities (Stanton-Salazar, 2001). In her discussion of the need to transform teaching practices, Ladson-Billings (1994) laments a reality in which teachers continue to doubt the academic capabilities of African American children. Black men are subjected to low teacher and counselor expectations and are stigmatized as violent and jail-bound, shaping both their educational opportunities and how they are treated (O’Connor, 1999). Further, disciplinary policies have a disproportionately negative effect on African American boys, leading Black males to be less likely to receive academic help or guidance and more likely to receive detentions and expulsions, especially as compared to White males exhibiting similar behaviors (Gordon et al., 1994; O’Connor, 1999). We suggest that while we cannot completely connect the small influence teachers and counselors appeared to have on the college choice process of Black males in this study, an important step toward improving access would be to help prospective teachers recognize their stereotypes and biases about the abilities and motivations of African American boys. It is critical that the formal education received by teachers and counselors address the ideological blinders that they will inevitably have developed as a result of their own cultural and educational experiences. Training which reminds school agents to have high aspirations for all of their students, share college preparatory information widely, and connect with students’ parents regarding their aspirations and steps necessary to reach their goals could lend to these individuals having a greater impact on the choice processes of Black males.



(4) Highlight the long-term financial benefits associated with college-going: When asked about what motivated them to attend college, the Black males in our study consistently noted the importance of the financial stability a college education would bring them. Data from the US Census, National Center for Education Statistics support anecdotal knowledge that this assumption is correct. As one would expect, an individual’s earnings tend to increase with her or his level of educational attainment (Day & Newburger, 2002; Perna, 2003). Individuals possessing a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn almost twice as much yearly as those who have earned a high-school diploma. In addition, those possessing advanced degrees can expect to earn 2.6 times more than individuals possessing only a high-school diploma (Day & Newburger, 2002). Thus, it follows that Black male participation in higher education can be increased with increased awareness of the financial benefits that accrue to those who have a college degree. Highlighting the connections between a college education and social mobility may appear to be rather simplistic and to be common knowledge which need not be reiterated. However, when we consider the images of success with which Black males are often presented, they rarely encounter visions of those similar to themselves using education as a vehicle to obtain wealth and status. Herndon and Hirt (2004) highlight the importance of role models in motivating students to pursue a post-secondary education, and note that there are especially few Black male role models who have taken this path. Media exposes Black boys to rich men who look like them and are star athletes, rappers, singers, and sometimes actors, but rarely attorneys, engineers, or doctors. While athletics and entertainment are certainly potential avenues for social mobility, there is a wider array of opportunities available to those with college degrees, and it is important to make Black males aware of this fact through our words and providing them with role models who have reached the highest levels of academic and financial success. (5) Continue and increase efforts to make college financially accessible: Over the past few decades, higher education has increasingly become viewed as a private, rather than public, good and the impact has been greatest at the federal level (Cohen, 1998; Johnstone, 2005; Zusman, 2005). The shift away from grants and toward need-based loans has forced many students to incur tens of thousands of dollars of educational debt in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree. For students seeking a graduate or professional degree, the indebtedness can reach $100,000 or more (Johnstone, 2005).


Overcoming Barriers

Our findings indicate that Black male participation in higher education is related to socioeconomic status. Over time, increases in financial resources have become more closely linked to college attendance, with the population of African American men in college becoming more and more affluent. It is likely that this is due, in part, to the growth in the Black middle class. However, it is important to think about the fact that African Americans are still overrepresented among America’s poorest citizens, and are more likely to be from low-income families than students from other racial or ethnic backgrounds. Thus, we must wonder whether the increases in the number of more wealthy Black males on college campuses also translate to poorer Black men being more effectively shut out of higher education through inadequate schooling and the high cost of tuition. Regardless of these increases in affluence, tuition costs and the availability of financial aid continue to be important considerations in the college choice process of Black males. Thus, it is critical to offer more information about the different types of financial aid available in order to reduce sticker shock and help students make more informed decisions. Additionally, colleges and universities must commit themselves to fully supporting students they admit regardless of income. Surely Cedric could not have attended Brown without aid to fully meet his financial need, and we urge other campuses to match the commitment of institutions like Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford and offer significant grant support to low-income students. Public institutions are not exempt from these discussions, particularly as the tuition and fees at even the least expensive institutions approach $10,000 a year.

NOTES 1. See Appendix A of The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall, 2004 (Sax et al., 2004) for a full description of weighting procedures. 2. For the purposes of this report, low-income families do not have incomes in excess of 150% of the federally defined poverty level for a family of four for that given year. Poverty thresholds were obtained from Social Security Online (http://www.ssa.gove/ policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2003/3e.html) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (

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WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF? DEMYSTIFYING BLACK MALE COLLEGE STUDENTS Candice P. Baldwin, Jodi Fisler and James M. Patton ABSTRACT Access to higher education for Black men has increased since the 1980s, yet they are not enrolling or graduating from institutions of higher education (IHE) at a rate comparable to that of their female counterparts. Black males represent a mere 36 percent of the Black college student population in all IHEs and only 32 percent in historically Black colleges and universities. Research shows that the problems on many college campuses can be linked to the status and perceptions of Black men in society as a whole, lack of financial assistance, inadequate learning and supportive environments, and insufficient culturally appealing venues for student engagement. This chapter will delineate the salient factors that affect the success of Black men in higher education and will offer strategies that IHEs can use to increase the success of their Black male students.

While the Big Bad Wolf is often portrayed in folklore and mythology as a dreaded and menacing creature to be avoided, in reality, he, like the majority of Black males, is not as threatening as often portrayed. In fact, the Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 181–205 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006014




‘‘origin of the Big Bad Wolf lies in European folk tales and mythologies based on the deep ambiguity of human attitudes to the wolf’’ (Big Bad Wolf, n.d.). The authors of this paper believe this metaphor is fitting for describing prevailing stereotypes and subsequently demystifying Black male college students. Retention of Black men1 is a recurrent topic of discussion in higher education, and the continuing proportional decrease in the numbers of Black male students on campuses indicates that there are no easy answers to the problem. Despite increased access to higher education since the 1980s, Black men are not enrolling or graduating from institutions of higher education (IHE) at rates comparable to those of their female counterparts. Often it is assumed that the retention and recruitment of Black men is an issue only at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). This is not true, however, as Black males only accounted for about 32 percent of the students enrolled at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in 2001. In comparison, Black women represented about 51 percent of the student population (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 2003). These numbers are similar to the enrollment rates across all institutions. That is, Black males represent 36 percent of the Black college student population, while Black women represent 64 percent (Hoffman, Llagas, & Snyder, 2003). This unequal proportion of men to women in IHEs is still more pronounced among Black students than it is for Whites, Hispanics, or Asians. A follow-up of this student population indicated that among Whites, Hispanics, and Asians males accounted for 44, 41, and 49 percent, respectively, of their population among full-time students in IHEs in 2005–2006, while Black males still only accounted for about 37 percent (NCES, 2006). The factors affecting the enrollment and success of Black men in IHEs are complex. The disproportionate representation of African Americans, particularly males, in special education and their under representation in gifted education, along with their disproportionate minority contact with the courts, juvenile justice, and adult corrections are compelling forces that limit their applications to higher education (Patton, 1998). Thus, their overrepresentation in special education, their underrepresentation in gifted education, along with Black male cultural issues and the disproportionate criminalization of Black males, appear to provide important socio-cultural, political, and economic contexts for the gender gap between Black males’ interest and attendance in IHEs in comparison with their female counterparts. Often, being a Black man in higher education as well as in the larger society means navigating an environment full of possibility while at the same


Big Bad Wolf

time having to manage an internal fear of failure (Fletcher, 2006). It is, however, clear that the inability of higher education institutions to achieve a critical mass of Black men has a tremendous impact on these students’ cultural identity, perceptions of the cultural climate, and their level of social and academic integration into the campus community (Cuyjet, 2006). The problems on many college campuses can be linked to the status and perceptions of Black men in our society as a whole. Black men are one of the most feared groups in society. Thus, Black men have long been portrayed as a dysfunctional and homogenous group characterized by hyper-sexuality, violence, incarceration, drug abuse, and poor academic performance (Gordon, 1999). These negative views of Black men largely emanate from environmental dynamics that circumscribe how young Black males’ identities are perceived both inside and outside their communities (Noguera, 2002). By ignoring the within-group diversity that exists among Black men, stereotypes and stigmas continue to haunt and marginalize Black men in society (Corbin & Pruitt, 1999; Gordon, 1999; Holmes & Morin, 2006). The literature suggests that these stereotypes are often at the core of the negative experiences and outcomes of Black men in higher education (Davis, 1999) One underlying assumption guiding this article is that societal perceptions of Black men perpetuate the fear of and among Black male college students, which, in turn, affects their enrollment, persistence, and success in higher education. Through an examination of scholarly research, this article will highlight other salient factors that affect the success of Black men in higher education in an effort to provide strategies that IHEs can use to reinforce progress, strength, and confidence among their Black male student populations. Additionally, we hope the information gained from this article will help Black men, themselves, to understand, embrace, and celebrate their role and place in higher education.

EXPERIENCES OF BLACK MEN ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES Researchers have dedicated considerable attention to the experiences of Black students on college campuses over the years. Despite commonalities in the findings, readers must be mindful of the differences in students’ perceptions based on their personal circumstances. For example, firstgeneration college students often face different challenges than their peers from college-educated families. There are also significant differences in



perceptions regarding the racial climate on college campuses across generations and between campuses. Still, it is important to recognize the kinds of experiences that many Black male students have encountered in the past and often do today, even if they view and interpret these experiences differently.

Experiences at Predominantly White Colleges (PWI) Research on the relative success of Black students at PWIs indicate that they typically have lower levels of academic achievement and more difficulties with identity and self-esteem development than their counterparts at HBCUs, often resulting in greater adjustment problems and higher levels of stress (Bruno, 2002; Carter, Miller, Sbrocco, Sunchday, & Lewis, 1999; Joiner & Walker, 2002; Thompson, Anderson, & Bakeman, 2000). In fact, Berger and Milem (1999) reported that HBCU students, in comparison to their same race peers at PWIs, reported significantly higher self-ratings in the following domains of self-concept – psychosocial wellness, academic self-efficacy, and achievement orientation. Carter et al. (1999) found that Black students suffer from a higher degree of anxiety than White students at PWIs. This may be attributed to minority status stress (Bruno, 2002) or acculturative stress (Thompson et al., 2000) they endured as a result of being Black in a predominantly White environment. In addition, many Black men at White colleges believe that it is hard to succeed in a seemingly hostile environment that marginalizes their presence (Davis, 1999). Research indicates that Black men generally experience more racial hostility on these campuses and are more likely to be victims of racial stereotypes than their female counterparts (Davis, 1994). Some Black male students on predominantly White campuses believe that their colleges simply ignore them and do not value the diversity they bring to the campus. For example, the history of Black people is often neglected in classes or traditional campus rituals, and Black men may not see a strong presence of Black men in the college yearbook or among the campus community (Davis, 2004; Feagin, Vera, & Imani, 1996; Willie, 2003). This and other research has shown that Black males experience a greater sense of connectedness, power, affiliation, and culturally responsive engagement at HBCUs than at PWIs (Fleming, 1984). Additionally, appropriate role models are often in short supply. For example, at most White colleges, it is rare to see more than a few Black men in faculty or administrative positions, whereas Black male employees on campuses are frequently found in low-status positions, such as janitors or cafeteria workers.


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A lack of a critical mass and a sense of invisibility are not the only problems that Black men face on White campuses, however, in some cases, the problem is one of too much attention. Black males may find themselves called upon to represent the perspectives of all Black individuals during classroom or informal discussions, or they may generate the suspicion of campus security officers and others who consciously or unconsciously associate Black students (and Black men, in particular) with criminal activity (Davis, 2004; Feagin et al., 1996). Thus, Black men have described unusually harsh treatment by resident assistants in response to minor infractions and the tendency for other students to lock their doors when they see Black students in the parking lot (Feagin et al., 1996).

Experiences at Predominantly Black Colleges There is relatively little recent research documenting the differences in experiences of students at HBCUs and PWIs. Overall, findings indicate that there are both academic and social benefits for Black students, and Black men in particular, who attend Black colleges (Davis, 1994; Fleming, 1984; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). For example, a comprehensive review of research from the 1990s showed that students at HBCUs gained slightly more in the areas of overall personal development, persistence, and degree attainment than their Black peers at PWIs (Cuyjet, 2006; Davis, 1999; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). Additionally, Black students at HBCUs often leave these colleges with a greater sense of the value of learning for selfunderstanding and with a heightened self-concept in both the academic and social domains (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) attributed these gains to the indirect effects of a more supportive educational environment at HBCUs compared to PWIs. Apart from the positive support often found at HBCUs, an essential strength of attending a HBCU for Black men may be the absence of other elements that have been found to have a negative impact on students’ academic experiences. That is, whereas the achievement of Black men at PWIs was influenced by the extent to which a student’s college mirrored the racial composition of his/her home community and high school, this relationship was nonexistent for students at HBCUs (Davis, 1994). In other words, racial congruence was inconsequential for students at HBCUs and achievement was better predicted by other factors, such as study habits, peer relations, and academic background. This underscores the role of race as a possible distracting influence for students at PWIs.



In the supportive, engaged and often culturally responsive environment of many Black colleges, in the absence of race-related pressures, Black men in Fleming’s (1984) study were generally able to focus their energies on developing themselves simply as men, just as White men generally do at PWIs. These institutions were, more often than not, able to understand the unique cultural aspects of the culture of Black males and respond in kind. In this same vein, students at Howard University reported a sense of ease and relief at being able to blend in at a predominantly Black college. Not standing out based on race allowed them to be themselves and stand out in ways that they felt were more meaningful to them as individuals (Willie, 2003). In addition to the ‘‘gift of anonymity’’ at Howard, students also found a great deal of encouragement from professors who had high expectations and belief in their ability to achieve and who helped them to feel potent and empowered. The examples of fellow students served as additional inspiration (Willie, 2003). As one Black male student explained, ‘‘There were black dentists, black doctors, all types of health majors, business, engineering, you name it y All these intelligent [people] out there just really striving y It was very motivating, and that was exactly what I needed’’ (p. 87). While frustrations and anxieties of being a Black college student may be largely reduced for Black men who attend a predominantly or historically Black college, they are not necessarily eliminated. Black students may face rejection or judgment from other Blacks, who may also harbor prejudices and stereotypes of what it means to be Black. For example, Howard University students in the late 1980s reported a sense of resentment and hostility from local Black residents who ‘‘just thought they were so high and mighty, compared to the poor people in the community’’ (Willie, 2003, p. 100). Further, their disproportionate numbers in special education, gifted education, their disproportionately low high school graduation rates and high incarceration rates, limit their proportionate numbers at PWIs, as well as in HBCUs.

KEY FACTORS IMPACTING BLACK MALE COLLEGE STUDENTS The ‘‘Three Warring Souls’’ of African Americans, Stereotyping, and Discrimination The culture, experiences, perceptions, problems, and needs of Black men on college campuses must be understood in order to move toward ways to assist

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them (Stikes, 1984). A host of factors that are a part of the experience, as an example culture and agency of Black men, can and do shape the quality of the campus environment experienced by Black males. Such culturally related factors as stereotyping, discrimination, violence and incarceration, Black identity development and the ‘‘warring souls’’ of Black males, have been identified as critical influences in college enrollments and dictating the quality of campus life for Black men. Boykin (1986), building upon the works of Prager (1982), and Jones (1972), has maintained that African Americans are often required to make certain social, political, emotional, and educational transactions in both mainstream and African rooted culture, simultaneously. Given the historical and generally marginalized view of African rooted culture in American society, this simultaneous reality, often in the words of Dubois, causes their souls to be at ‘‘war’’ with each other, that is, betwixt and between African rooted culture and mainstream, dominant White culture. Further, African American learners with gifts and talents who aspire to obtain higher education degrees must also negotiate a third stream of existence – the culture of giftedness, a culture which is often times at odds with the oppositional and machismo culture associated with many African American males. In response to racism, prejudice, and subordination in the larger society, Fordham and Ogbu (1986) have postulated that some African Americans develop an oppositional social identity and cultural frame of reference which, consciously and unconsciously, causes them to associate attitudes, and behaviors such as academic achievement orientations, speaking standard English, obtaining high grades, and generally striving for academic excellence as betraying African American culture and, therefore, ‘‘acting white.’’ They have found that many potentially gifted African American learners early on develop an anti-achievement ethic and engage in behaviors that sabotage or hide their real academic talents, for to do otherwise would be an acceptance of a white cultural frame of reference (Townsend & Patton, 1995). This ‘‘three warring souls’’ phenomenon, that is, being Black in Black culture, Black in mainstream White culture and Black in a culture of giftedness, represents a challenge to recruiting and retaining African American learners into higher education, especially Black males. Perhaps the most common aspect of Black students’ campus experiences is the prevalence of incipient stereotypes about them. College students’ attitudes often mirror attitudes about Black men in society, thus students’ perceptions about Black male students are often formed based on their exposure to certain stereotypes as children (Tatum, 2003). Black male



students’ body language, dress, or speech, that is their unique agency, can trigger stereotypical perceptions about Black males, which may influence how others react to them. Often, but not always, these perceptions are negative and, given the psychosocial differences between women and men, are even more so for males than their female peers, whose personage and images have not been traditionally as stereotyped, negatively portrayed in the media or subject to historical negative treatments as a result of these stereotypes. Depending on the context, being a Black man can signal a range of meanings from danger to trustworthiness or low status to kinship (Willie, 2003). Whether it is the assumption that Black men are all athletes; that they are academically less qualified; that they come from poor families; or that they are members of a gang, Black male students are often keenly aware that their behavior and choices may serve to reinforce stereotypes about all Black people (Guiffrida, 2003). Such awareness leads some to change the way they dress, the way they talk, and what they say when they are in predominantly White groups. It also influences how they socialize and often which college they choose to attend (Freeman, 2005; Guiffrida, 2003; Jones, Castellanos, & Cole, 2002; Willie, 2003). White observers who criticize Black students for associating primarily with other Black students do not realize the amount of time Black students spend in predominantly White groups where they do not feel free to be themselves (Feagin et al., 1996). Associating with other Black students is an opportunity to feel at ease, to support one another in dealing with shared frustrations and to be who they are without fear of being compared to a stereotype (Foster, 2003; Guiffrida, 2003; Willie, 2003). In 2006, The Washington Post conducted a survey of randomly selected adults nationwide. Although the sample represented all racial groups, the poll included an over sample of Black men, especially young Black men. Of the Black male respondents, nearly 60 percent reported that discrimination remained a part of their day-to-day experience. The perceived prevalence of unusually high levels of discrimination against Black men is echoed in The Post’s finding that the majority of the respondents, regardless of race or gender, indicated that Black women are more likely to be better educated and more affluent than Black men because they are less likely to have a criminal record and they face less discrimination than their male counterparts (Holmes & Morin, 2006). Black male students’ perceptions of discrimination and encounters with discrimination vary from the overtly hostile, such as finding racial epithets written on their doors or being threatened with physical violence


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(Feagin et al., 1996; Willie, 2003), to the very subtle sense that they are unwelcomed in predominantly White gatherings (Guiffrida, 2003). When such incidents of discrimination occur, it serves to increase the sense of alienation Black students feel from their White peers and adds to their psychological stress, both of which can have a negative impact on academic performance and social adjustment (Feagin et al., 1996; Jones et al., 2002).

Stereotyping and Academic Achievement Black male college students’ internalization of these images and stereotypes also influence perceptions about their own ability (Tatum, 2003). Thus, the characterization of Black men as less intelligent and innately incapable of performing at high academic levels in school often manifests itself in selfdoubt about their own ability. This is evident in the increasing number of Black men failing, dropping out, or losing interest in performing well in school (Bonner & Bailey, 2006). Steele and Aronson (1995) attributed these behaviors to the consequences of a stereotype threat. That is, stereotypes become a threat when Black male students fear that their performance or behavior is giving credence to negative assumptions about them (Steele & Aronson, 1995). The stereotype threat some Black students experience throughout K-12 schooling often follows them into higher education. Black male students have reported on the skewed expectations of professors and advisors, some of whom impose tougher standards and stricter grading on Black students, while others lower their expectations for Black students based on the assumption that they are incapable of achieving at the same levels as other students (Feagin et al., 1996; Willie, 2003). These experiences raise the unsettling possibility among many Black men that the stereotypes about their academic ability are true, and that other people view them in that manner (Tatum, 2003). Davis (2004) spoke with one Black male student, who shared his personal struggle with being unable to meet the academic demands of an engineering program. He talked about the impact of the experience on his confidence level as well as having feelings of inadequacy. ‘‘[In] high school, I did well in math so, I figured I would give [engineering] a try. It turned out I had a lot of difficulty. [I figured that] maybe the second year, I will start to do better and y it will come to me y it didn’t. y Unfortunately, I was removed from the engineering program’’ (p. 64).



The weight of negative social expectations can also cause pressure for high-achieving Black male students, who understand that any inadequate performance on their part could add credence to the stereotype. For example, a Black male student may fear that other students, faculty, and administrators view him as less intelligent. If the student is unable to overcome those fears, he often begins to see the stereotype within himself (Steele & Aronson, 1995). In a survey of students at one Midwestern university, Black undergraduate students (both male and female) reported more negative perceptions than White students on measures of the social and intellectual respect they received from others and the extent to which they felt they were viewed as serious students (Reid & Radhakrishnan, 2003). Results of the same survey revealed that Black undergraduates viewed instructors’ impact on academic climate more negatively, and Black graduate students perceived advising and mentoring to be less central to their academic experience than did White students. Castro and Rice (2003) also found that Black students face academic pressure and anxiety related to parental expectations and overcoming stereotypes. Such pressures are often the result of parents wanting the best for their children, in light of negative societal perceptions about Blacks (Castro & Rice, 2003). One Black male student discussed familial pressure to continue in an engineering program because of the negative perceptions of Black men in society. He stated, ‘‘Some people condemned me [for changing majors] because there is a lack of African-Americans in engineering y Granted I’m putting another African-American male in engineering, but there has to be some individual satisfaction in there too. I have to do something that is good for myself and not good for necessarily AfricanAmerican people’’ (p. 66). It is not easy to rise above these structural and psychological limitations placed on one’s racial group. The negative images surrounding Black men often affect how Black male college students see themselves and other Black men. Those who choose to reject stereotypes and adopt behaviors that are unacceptable among Black men often feel a sense of inner contradiction (Cuyjet, 2006; Polite & Davis, 1999) and struggle with having a foot in two worlds, the dominant culture and the Black male culture (Du Bois, 1903/ 1986; Willie, 2003). They want acceptance among members of the dominant group, but at the same time they do not want to lose respect or kinship among other Black men. Further, Black male students may hate being subjected to stereotypes, yet may have their own biases against other Black men. These conflicts can be highly troubling, and may prompt considerable


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reflection on and contradictory feelings about what it means to be a Black man in this society.

Incarceration and Violence The stereotypical association of Black men with crime or aggression outside of colleges has been documented in numerous studies (Abreu, 1999; Harrison & Willis Esqueda, 2001; Quillian & Pager, 2001). Quillian and Pager (2001), for example, found that the percentage of young Black men in a neighborhood was positively correlated with the perceived level of neighborhood crime. That is, the very presence of young Black men is seen as a threat to some people, regardless of how those young men actually behave. The notion that more Black men go to prison than college has existed for many years and has been the source of much debate. Indeed, an examination of empirical data indicates that in 2000, there were 791,600 Black men in prison compared to 602,032 Black men on campus (Cuyjet, 2006). At first glance, these figures suggest that Black men are more likely to go to jail than college. In reality, however, this is not the case. The first figure includes Black men across all age groups, while the majority of college students range in age from 18 to 24. Considering only Black men aged 18–24 in 2000, college students outnumbered prisoners by a factor of 2.6 (Hocker, 2002). Unfortunately, this distinction is not well known, and many people still associate Black men with incarceration rather than education. The tough, angry, and violent Black man is also a dominant image in today’s popular culture. As such, it is not surprising that some young Black men incorporate violence into their identity and sense of self-worth. Their perceived violent image and machismo body styling used by many Black males to reflect their uniqueness and provoke fear in others often garner respect from peers and fear from other groups, leading these young men, ironically, to perpetuate the same stereotypes that negatively affect their self-esteem (Corbin & Pruitt, 1999). Relatedly, some Black men may exhibit machismo, risk-taking, and aggressive behaviors to overcompensate for feelings of insecurity and to provide them a sense of self-identification and resistance in what is often perceived to be a hostile culture (Polite & Davis, 1999). West writes that for many of these Black males: To be ‘‘bad’’ is good not simply because it subverts the language of the dominant White culture but also because it imposes a unique kind of order for your Black men on their own distinctive chaos and solicits an attention that makes other pull back with some trepidation.’’ (1994, p. 128)



Identity The college years are often seen as a period for optimal identity formation (Chickering & Reisser, 1993). For many students, college provides the opportunity to move away from home and discover new aspects of their identity. The collegiate environment often helps students clarify their values and, most importantly, define who they are in this world (Bruno, 2002). In that regard, Black male college students often face unique status-related pressures beyond the pressures common to most college students. Among these added concerns is the need to establish a meaningful identity as a Black male (Prillerman, Myers, & Smedley, 1989).

Personal/Self-Identity Research indicates that the academic and social well-being of Black male college students often suffer because of particular psychological and social adjustments required in transitioning to IHE (Corbin & Pruitt, 1999; Kimbrough & Harper, 2006; Tatum, 2003). Whether Black students succumb to the devaluing pressures of the dominant culture or successfully resist them, the fact is that dealing with the previously mentioned stereotypes can be socially and psychologically taxing (Tatum, 2003). Collins and Lightsey (2001) have suggested that Black men may have a harder time achieving in college because of a lack of sense of self. As a result of a diminished self-concept and sense of self-worth, Black male college students may use ineffective means to adjust to certain situations in their academic environment, while missing or ignoring strategies that might work better for them. For example, many Black male students at PWIs do not take advantage of co-curricular activities and other campus resources available to them (Brown, 2006; Harper, 2006). On contrary, Black male students may select coping strategies that augment their self-esteem, but that do not help them to resolve their problems (Stikes, 1984). For example, Black male students may become over-involved in certain activities, often using athletics or membership in fraternities to affirm their self-worth (Brown, 2006; Harper, 2006; Kimbrough & Harper, 2006). These activities may give them the respect and admiration that they crave from peers, but may impede their academic progress. Whether under- or overinvolved, a lack of adequate coping mechanisms often hinders Black male students’ development. They are missing out on some aspect of the college experience, whether academic or social, that is necessary for positive identity growth.

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From the streets to the classroom, certain behaviors are seen as socially acceptable among Black men and can help a young Black man to achieve status and belonging among his Black male peers. Majors and Billson (1992) referred to this phenomenon as the cool pose. The attitudes, stylized movements, and behaviors that comprise the cool pose are ‘‘carefully crafted [to] deliver a single, critical message, i.e., pride, strength, and control’’ (p. 4). This is often evident on college campuses as well. When Black male college students are faced with situations, on campus or elsewhere, that affirm racial stereotypes or damage their self-concept, they often adopt cool-pose behaviors to cope (Majors & Billson, 1992). The reinforcement of stereotypical messages described in the previous section becomes so common that Black male students often begin to internalize them, consciously or unconsciously. Even a member of a stereotyped group may internalize the stereotypical attitudes about his own group to some degree, laying the foundation for stereotype threat, as discussed earlier (Steele & Aronson, 1995; Tatum, 2003).

Racial Identity Black male college students are often confronted with their dual roles as Blacks and males. The concept of racial identity can be used to enhance understanding of other identity issues Black male college students face. Early research on Black identity evolved from a thesis of Black self-hatred and relied on samples comprised of Black preschool children. In 1939, Ruth Horowitz claimed that Black preschoolers wanted to be members of the White race rather than the Black race (Cross, 1991). Many psychologists were willing to accept this theory until the Clarks found evidence that Blacks prefer dolls with lighter skin color and reject those with darker skin color despite their feelings about themselves and their own skin color (Cross, 1991). Their studies disproved Horowitz’s conclusions; however, Cross (1991) believed these findings implied that ‘‘Black children had identity problems and demonstrated self-hatred with regard to their race’’ (p. 137). These early studies seemed to ignore the significant role that personal identity and reference-group orientation played in understanding Black identity. Nigrescence research emerged to examine the identity changes that occur among Blacks on a deeper level. According to Cross (1991), ‘‘Nigrescence is a resocializing experience; it explains how assimilated Black adults, as well as deracinated, deculturalized or miseducated Black adults are transformed by a series of circumstances and events into persons who are more Black or Afrocentrically aligned’’ (p. 190).



Cross’s (1971) Nigrescence model is composed of five uniform developmental stages. Stage 1 assumes that all Blacks start out hating the idea of being Black. Stage 2 is marked by an event in which Blacks begin to change how they view being Black or how they view the dominant (White) culture. This encounter causes Blacks to move to Stage 3, where they try to destroy their old way of thinking about being Black by becoming immersed in Black culture. As Blacks move beyond the immersion stage and into Stage 4, the emersion stage, they begin to develop a healthy appreciation of their own race and that of others. They begin to internalize a healthy Black identity, in which they develop confidence in their own personal standards of Blackness that are not defined by others. This ‘‘internalization is a continual process, so once a long-term commitment is made to this healthier identity, Blacks are said to have moved into the fifth and final stage’’ (p. 159). Despite its strengths, Cross’s 1971 Nigrescence theory assumed that there was ‘‘only one way to be Black’’ (p. 149), with Stage 5 representing the ideal. Sellers, Smith, Shelton, Rowley, and Chavous (1998) addressed this shortcoming by proposing a conceptualization of racial identity that they called the Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI). The MMRI views racial identity in terms of four components – racial salience, centrality, regard, and ideology. Some of these dimensions are assumed to be relatively constant while others vary by context. An individual’s position on each of the four dimensions creates different patterns of racial identity, none of which is deemed ideal or inherently better than any other. The MMRI also acknowledges that a person’s self-concept is comprised of more than just race, and thus ‘‘provides the opportunity to investigate race within the context of other identities, such as gender and occupational identity’’ (p. 23). The following provides more details regarding these four dimensions and their relevance to our discussion. Sellers et al. (1998) defined racial salience as ‘‘the extent to which one’s race is a relevant part of one’s self-concept at a particular moment or in a particular situation’’ (p. 24). This helps to explain why Black male students from predominantly White home communities may react differently to being on a predominantly White campus than will Black students from predominantly Black communities (Guiffrida, 2003; Kimbrough, Molock, & Walton, 1996). Racial centrality is understood as ‘‘the extent to which a person normatively defines himself or herself with regard to race’’ (Sellers et al., 1998, p. 25); that is, it refers to the stable aspect of one’s racial identity rather than the situational aspect described by racial salience. Black male students may define themselves first as men or gay or Christian rather than

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as Black, while others with greater race centrality identify themselves primarily in terms of their race and only secondarily in terms of other attributes (Sellers et al., 1998). Students for whom race is a central characteristic will more likely see and respond to the world through the lens of their race. This was affirmed by Operario and Fiske (2001), who found that students who identified strongly with their race perceived more personal discrimination than did students with lower race centrality, even though both groups perceived similar degrees of discrimination against their racial group as a whole. The third component of the MMRI, racial regard, is comprised of two aspects: public regard and private regard (Sellers et al., 1998). Private regard refers to how a person feels about being Black and about Black people generally. Public regard describes how a person thinks Blacks are viewed by others who are not Black. Whether a person feels positively or negatively about being Black may or may not be influenced by how that person thinks society values Black people. This is a point of controversy among researchers, but there is evidence to suggest that Blacks are able to maintain a positive private regard even while perceiving negative public regard (Chavous et al., 2003; Sellers et al., 1998). Nevertheless, as pointed out earlier, the negative images associated with Black men may affect how Black male college students see themselves and other Black males. Black male students may hate being subjected to stereotypes, yet may have their own biases against other Black men. The fourth dimension of the MMRI is ideology, which refers to the beliefs that Black people have about how Blacks should behave in society (Sellers et al., 1998). Sellers and colleagues identified four distinct ideologies: nationalist, oppressed minority, assimilationist, and humanist. The nationalist ideology resembles Cross’s immersion stage. It emphasizes the distinctiveness of Black experiences and Black culture, and advocates for empowerment and self-determination within the Black community. On a college campus, students with this ideology would most likely become heavily involved in Black-oriented clubs and activities and prefer friendships with other Black students. By contrast, the oppressed minority ideology sees discrimination against Blacks as only one example of social oppression and seeks to establish connections between Blacks and other marginalized groups. The assimilationst ideology is marked by efforts to function within dominant cultural structures (Sellers et al., 1998). Thus, a student with this ideology would be more likely to form friendships with White students and participate in more mainstream campus activities. Some theorists interpret



assimilation as a sign of an immature racial identity, similar to Cross’s (1991) first stage. However, Sellers et al. (1998) place no value judgment on this or any other ideology. Finally, the humanist ideology transcends race and views issues, including race-related issues, in terms of how they affect all people rather than just Black people or even oppressed people generally. Logically, this ideology tends to be accompanied by low race centrality, because people view themselves and others more as individuals than as representatives of socially constructed groups (Sellers et al., 1998). Black male students with a humanist ideology may not want anyone to view them as Black men, but as just like other students on campus. These Black male students usually try to direct attention away from their Blackness. They do not deny their Blackness, but they do not want to be solely defined in terms of race. Chavous et al. (2003) used the centrality and regard dimensions of the MMRI to examine the relationship between Black teenagers’ racial identity and their academic attainment. They found that students who displayed low centrality and negative private and public regard showed the lowest levels of academic efficacy and were the least likely to finish high school or go on to college. In contrast, students who had negative public regard but high centrality and positive private regard were the most likely to attend college, and those with high centrality and positive private and public regard had the most favorable beliefs about school importance, relevance, attachment, and efficacy. Far more research is needed to fully understand the relationship among students’ racial identity, academic motivation, and behavior, but these findings clearly suggest that racial identity is an important factor to consider in guiding Black students toward greater educational attainment. It appears that not just one factor, but an amalgamation of experiences, interactions, and perceptions contribute to the challenges facing Black men on campus, thus making their needs different from those of their peers (Bonner & Bailey, 2006; Davis, 1999, 2004; Corbin & Pruitt, 1999). It is also evident that many of the coping strategies utilized by Black male students may be ineffective in helping them address the issues and problems that they face at IHEs (Brown, 2006; Davis, 2004; Harper, 2006; Kimbrough & Harper, 2006). Thus, a variety of tools are necessary to help Black male students understand their role and place in IHEs and facilitate their success. The following strategies give educators a place to start in helping Black male students overcome these issues, fears, and stereotypes and to persist and succeed in college.


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RECOMMENDED STRATEGIES Challenge Students’ Ideas of What it Means to be a Black Man and Black Male Culture Popular culture, media images and, in some cases, students’ own families have conveyed a message that Black masculinity is incompatible with academic achievement (Cuyjet, 2006; Kimbrough & Harper, 2006; Reese, 2003). While their sisters may be encouraged to obtain a college education, many young Black men are expected to financially support their families as soon as they leave high school. Some aspire to the self-indulgent ‘‘gangsta’’ lifestyle portrayed by hip-hop icons. For those who do go to college, masculine pride may prevent them from asking for help or giving the impression that they care about grades. The development of Black male students is related to both their existing concepts of self and environmental conditions that support their further development. Students need to be exposed to alternative conceptualizations of Black manhood in order to reconsider their own criteria for defining masculinity. While enjoying hip-hop music or wanting to be self-sufficient is not negative, college personnel must do more to emphasize the culture and views of Black masculinity that promote involvement, academic engagement and achievement orientation, academic success, and the habits of mind and heart that go along with these ideologies. A culture must develop within our IHEs that is more closely aligned with, attuned to and understanding of Black males. The environmental press on our college campuses should reflect a culture and host of strategies that help Black males in working through the stressors and tensions associated with being young, Black, and gifted and demonstrate that it is culturally appropriate and expected to be a gifted and talented student and be Black at the same time. The creation of more culturally responsive environments that foster a sense of connection, power, and affiliation would be a powerful means to assist Black male students in transforming their unique talents and gifts.

Create Opportunities for Mentorships One way of promoting an expanded view of masculinity is to put students in contact with achievement-oriented male mentors. Several programs directed toward Black men, such as Black fraternities and the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) among others, incorporate mentoring



relationships and have been shown to exert a positive influence (Harris & Fletcher, 1999; Hikes, 2005; Gallien, 2005; Spence, 2005; Sutton, 2006). Mentors may be fellow students, faculty or staff members, alumni, or members of the local community. Mentors do not have to be Black, but some students respond better to a mentor of the same race. Regardless of race, it is crucial that mentors believe in students’ ability to succeed and guide them not only in their academic development but their personal development as well (Sutton, 2006).

Recognize the Importance of Black Faculty and Administrators in Providing Support It is important for Black male students to encounter individuals on campus who look like and validate them as Black men. Colleges must recognize the distinctiveness of the experiences that Black men face on campus and become committed to providing services that ensure that they benefit as much as possible from their college experience (Joiner & Walker, 2002). By recognizing the need for and providing students with Black male mentors and race-specific support services, IHEs can demonstrate their commitment to fostering the success of their Black male students. Not all Black male students will necessarily take advantage of such services, but many will reach out to Black male professionals in the expectation that Black males will be able to relate to them best. Providing targeted, race-specific services, such as Black interest groups, Black fraternities and the like, for Black male students who need them often helps students become more willing to find and build relationships with peers, faculty, and administrators, regardless of race, which is critical in successful outcomes (Want, Parham, Baker, & Sherman, 2004).

Promote Culturally Responsive Student Involvement and Engagement in the Totality of Campus Life The research literature is clear on this point: Successful students tend to be active in student organizations and campus activities (Bonner & Bailey, 2006; Harper, 2005; Light, 2001; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). When studying the level of Black male participation in student organizations and campus activities at PWIs, Harper (2004) found that their participation was ‘‘woefully low.’’ The relative lack of Black men in campus organizations and


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college leadership positions is, therefore, cause for concern (Harper, 2006; Kimbrough & Harper, 2006). Campus organizations must reach out to Black men, who may be unlikely to seek out opportunities for involvement on their own (Kimbrough & Harper, 2006). Administrators can assist this effort by supporting the activities of Black student organizations that can provide avenues for social integration, identity clarification, and an emotional support structure, particularly at PWIs. Furthermore, colleges and universities can profit from and build upon some recent research by Harper, Carini, Bridges, and Hayek (2004) which suggests that Black male students need to be encouraged to spend more time studying, reading, and preparing for classes so that they can be more academically engaged at higher levels. This same research suggests that, in addition to encouraging them to be more academically engaging, they also need to be held ‘‘more accountable inside the classroom for demonstrating the investment of their out-of-class time to such activities’’ (p. 279)

Enhance the Ability of Faculty to Accommodate Diverse Learning and Communication Styles Students come to college with a wide array of preferred learning styles. Some absorb information best by reading, others by listening, yet others by doing. Research indicates that students’ learning styles are influenced by the norms of their culture (Watkins, 2005). It is important, therefore, to take students’ culture and learning styles into account when planning lessons and educational programs to ensure the material is as accessible as possible to as many students as possible. In the case of Black students, it may be helpful to consider how the Black cultural emphases on spirituality, music and movement, oral expression, and collaboration can be used to guide curricular and extracurricular practice (Watkins, 2005; Wynne, 2005). Further research is needed to determine how these cultural influences may manifest themselves differently in men and women. Culturally responsive teaching and programming may come easily to some faculty and higher education administrators, but others may require training and professional development to understand how to teach more effectively to a diverse student body and how to create culturally affirming and responsive programming that promote student engagement, increase student satisfaction and enhance positive student outcomes. At a minimum, anyone who works with culturally diverse students should be familiar with



other cultures’ norms and values regarding education, authority figures, and appropriate communication. This will reduce misunderstandings based on cultural differences and give instructors more tools to work with as they try to reach all of their students. Institutions can assist by offering teaching enhancement programs or other professional development resources to help faculty expand their skills in working effectively with Black students, as well as students from other cultural backgrounds. Acknowledge Common Experiences and the Difference in Perspectives Although it is tempting and extremely common to make generalizations about the needs, attitudes, and behaviors of Black men as a group, we must not forget that there is a great deal of diversity within any large group. What is true for an urban, first-generation commuter student at a predominantly White college may not be true for an upper-middle class athlete at a residential historically Black college. Therefore, it is necessary for institutions to make a concerted effort to learn about the distinctive needs of their Black male population and provide culturally responsive and appropriate services (Pope, Reynolds, & Mueller, 2004). Black student organizations, targeted orientation programs, and academic support programs will be more important to some students than others, depending on students’ personal history, sense of racial identity, and other individual characteristics (Cuyjet, 2006). We would do students a disservice by relying too heavily on what we have read about general trends at the expense of learning about students as unique individuals. We must always be prepared to adjust our efforts on behalf of young Black men based on the actual areas of concern on each campus and for each student. This orientation shows a commitment to alleviating barriers to the success of Black males in higher education. Ultimately, what will make the greatest difference to young Black men, and for all students, is having people around them who truly care, people who will challenge them and support them, and who will get to know them well enough to understand their unique educational and developmental needs.

NOTE 1. The term Black men is used in this essay to describe any males who define themselves as originating from African, West Indian, or African-American descent.


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Davis, J. E. (1999). What does gender have to do with the experiences of African American college men? In: V. C. Polite & J. E. Davis (Eds), African American males in school and society (pp. 134–148). New York: Teachers College Press. Davis, R. D. (2004). Black students’ perceptions: The complexity of persistence to graduation at an American university. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Du Bois, W. E. B. (1986). The souls of Black folk. In Library of America, Du Bois: Writings. New York: Literary Classics of the United States. (Original work published 1903). Feagin, J. R., Vera, H., & Imani, N. (1996). The agony of education: Black students at White colleges and universities. New York: Routledge. Fleming, J. (1984). Blacks in college. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Fletcher, M. A. (2006). At the corner of progress and peril. The Washington Post (June 2), p. A01. Fordham, S., & Ogbu, J. U. (1986). Black students’ school success: Coping with the burden of acting white. The Urban Review, 18(3), 176–206. Foster, K. M. (2003). The contours of community: The formation and maintenance of a Black student community on a predominantly White campus. Race Ethnicity and Education, 6(3), 265–281. Freeman, K. (2005). African Americans and college choice. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Gallien, L. B., Jr. (2005). The historical and cultural context of educating African American college students. In: L. B. Gallien, Jr. & M. S. Peterson (Eds), Instructing and mentoring the African American college student: Strategies for success in higher education (pp. 3–15). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Gordon, E. W. (1999). Foreword. In: V. C. Polite & J. E. Davis (Eds), African American males in school and society (pp. ix–xiii). New York: Teachers College Press. Guiffrida, D. A. (2003). African American student organizations as agents of social integration. Journal of College Student Development, 44(3), 304–319. Harper, S. R. (2004). The measure of a man: Conceptualizations of masculinity among highachieving African American male college students. Berkley Journal of Sociology, 48(1), 89–107. Harper, S. R. (2005). Leading the way: Inside the experiences of high-achieving African American male students. About Campus, 10(1), 8–15. Harper, S. R. (2006). Enhancing African American male student outcomes through leadership and active involvement. In: M. J. Cuyjet (Ed.), African American men in college (pp. 68–94). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Harper, S. R., Carini, R. M., Bridges, B. K., & Hayek, J. C. (2004). Gender differences in student engagement among African American undergraduates at historically black colleges and universities. Journal of College Student Development, 45(3), 271–284. Harris, W. G., & Fletcher, R. (1999). Successful African American males on a predominantly White university campus. In: W. G. Harris & G. M. Duhon (Eds), The AfricanAmerican male perspective of barriers to success (pp. 109–132). Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press. Harrison, L. A., & Willis Esqueda, C. (2001). Race stereotypes and perceptions about Black males involved in interpersonal violence. Journal of African American Men, 5(4), 81–92.

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Polite, V. C., & Davis, J. E. (1999). African American males in school and society. New York: Teachers College Press. Pope, R. L., Reynolds, A. L., & Mueller, J. A. (2004). Multicultural competence in student affairs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Prager, J. (1982). America racial ideology as collective representation. Ethic and Racial Studies, 5, 99–119. Prillerman, S. L., Myers, H. F., & Smedley, B. D. (1989). Stress, well-being, and academic achievement in college. In: G. L. Berry & J. K. Asamen (Eds), Black students: Psychosocial issues and academic achievement. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Quillian, L., & Pager, D. (2001). Black neighbors, higher crime? The role of racial stereotypes in evaluation of neighborhood crime. American Journal of Sociology, 107(3), 717–767. Reese, R. (2003). American paradox: Young Black men. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press. Reid, L. D., & Radhakrishnan, P. (2003). Race matters: The relation between race and general campus climate. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 9(3), 263–275. Sellers, R. M., Smith, M. A., Shelton, J. N., Rowley, S. J., & Chavous, T. M. (1998). Multidimensional model of racial identity: A reconceptualization of Black racial identity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2, 18–36. Spence, C. N. (2005). Successful mentoring strategies within historically Black institutions. In: L. B. Gallien, Jr. & M. S. Peterson (Eds), Instructing and mentoring the African American college student: Strategies for success in higher education (pp. 53–68). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. A. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual performance of African-Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 797–811. Stikes, C. (1984). Black students in higher education. Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. Sutton, E. M. (2006). Developmental mentoring of African American college men. In: M. J. Cuyjet (Ed.), African American men in college (pp. 95–111). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Tatum, B. D. (2003). Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? and other conversations about race. New York: Basic Books. Thompson, C. P., Anderson, L. P., & Bakeman, R. A. (2000). Effects of racial socialization and racial identity on acculturative stress in Black college students. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 6(2), 196–210. Townsend, B. L., & Patton, J. M. (1995). Three ‘‘Warring Souls’’ of African American high school students with gifts and talents. International Association of Special Education Monograph, pp. 1–8. Want, V., Parham, T., Baker, R. C., & Sherman, M. (2004). Black students’ rating of Caucasian and Black counselors varying in racial consciousness. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 10(2), 123–136. Watkins, A. F. (2005). Cultivating the education of African American college students: A learning styles approach. In: L. B. Gallien, Jr. & M. S. Peterson (Eds), Instructing and mentoring the African American college student: Strategies for success in higher education (pp. 122–146). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. West, C. (1994). Race matters. New York: Vintage.

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Willie, S. S. (2003). Acting Black: College, identity, and the performance of race. New York: Routledge. Wynne, J. T. (2005). Education, liberation, and transformation: Teaching African American students within a context of culture. In: L. B. Gallien, Jr. & M. S. Peterson (Eds), Instructing and mentoring the African American college student: Strategies for success in higher education (pp. 101–121). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

BEATING THE ODDS: SUCCESSFUL STRATEGIES TO INCREASE AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE PARTICIPATION IN SCIENCE Freeman A. Hrabowski, III and Kenneth I. Maton OVERVIEW This chapter focuses on successful strategies for increasing the number of males who enter and succeed in science at the college level. These strategies reflect lessons we have learned over the years from the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, launched in 1989, for high-achieving African American students in science and engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). We draw on both program evaluation data and case studies that demonstrate our success in terms of the actual numbers of academically successful Black males, and on some of the approaches we have taken to overcome barriers to attracting, retaining, and graduating these highachieving young men. We also examine the challenges we have faced involving young African American males, ranging from their emotional and social maturity to their high-school preparation and performance. Our analysis of why and how the Meyerhoff Program has been successful also reflects focus-group discussions with faculty and staff members about

Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 207–228 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006015




their perceptions of the Black males in science and engineering, as well as particular strategies they have used day-to-day to support (e.g., motivate, instruct, train) these students. We also touch on the roles that parents and families play in student success. To increase the number of African Americans who selected and excelled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors, the Meyerhoff Scholars Program was developed in 1988 at the UMBC with the ultimate goal of producing African American researchers in STEM fields. The program’s initial funding was provided by Baltimore philanthropists Robert and Jane Meyerhoff. The program developers, led by UMBC’s then Vice-Provost (and since 1992 UMBC’s president), attempted to create a comprehensive, multicomponent program that addressed the factors that research indicated were associated with minority student achievement in difficult science majors (cf. Hrabowski & Pearson, 1993; Maton, Hrabowski, & Schmitt, 2000). These factors comprise knowledge and skill development (e.g., Bonsangue & Drew, 1995; Gordon & Bridglall, 2004; Swail, Cabrera, Lee, & Williams, 2005; Treisman, 1992), academic and social integration (e.g., Allen, 1992; Cole & Barber, 2003; McHenry, 1997; Nettles, 1988), support and motivation (e.g., Barlow & Villarejo, 2004; Grandy, 1998; May & Chubin, 2003; Seymour & Hewitt, 1997), and advising and monitoring (e.g., Gandara & Maxwell-Jolly, 1999; Seymour & Hewitt, 1997). Although it was designed initially with a sole focus on African American males (in response to the donors’ specific wish), the program began recruiting African American females in 1990 in order to secure federal funding, which of course required supporting both males and females. In 1996, the program was opened to non-African American students (with an interest in the advancement of minorities in STEM fields) in response to court cases prohibiting race exclusive programs (e.g., University of Maryland College Park’s Banneker Scholarship). Currently, 50–65 Meyerhoff students are selected each year, depending on funding availability. Minorities who are underrepresented in the STEM disciplines constitute 74.9% of the Meyerhoff student population, including 72.7% African American, 2.1% Hispanic, and 0.1% American Indian. The Meyerhoff Scholars Program initially focused on males because of the varied challenges that these students faced in academic settings, attributable in part to the negative associations with the group in society (see below). Both the university and Baltimore philanthropists Robert and Jane Meyerhoff were aware of the fact that this group was at the bottom of the academic ladder, K-16 in Maryland and other states. Therefore, the program was initially designed to address the unique needs of

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African American males in particular. Moreover, we thought that if we could strengthen the performance of Black males in science, we should also be able to learn lessons that would be helpful to all students.

CHALLENGES BLACK MALES FACE IN SOCIETY AND IN SCIENCE African American males are subject to strong negative stereotypes in contemporary society. Too often, when people think about Black males, they think about violence, drugs, aggressive behavior, and safety issues. An anecdote illustrates this point: when the Meyerhoff Program staff took the first group of 19 males on trips, whether to restaurants or to church, the first reaction of people was that the group must have been a basketball team, because that was the only kind of constructive activity involving Black males that people were accustomed to thinking about or seeing. Indeed, when people asked the question, ‘‘Is this the basketball team?’’ they were surprised when the staff responded, ‘‘No, these are the best students on campus!’’ Negative stereotypes and low academic expectations related to African American males have potentially strong limiting effects on their school achievement and career goals (cf. O’Connor, 1999; Maton & Hrabowski, 2004). In contrast, their White counterparts usually enjoy the positive influences of high expectations, support, and social acceptance which contribute to student engagement in academic tasks and to academic achievement. Therefore, helping African American males to be successful in STEM majors and to pursue careers in their respective fields requires comprehensive academic and social support, as well as challenging the extant stereotypic beliefs in the academic community in which they are embedded. Many African American male students are trying to think through their identity, often because of the influence of the popular culture, and have a certain view of Black males who act ‘‘cool’’ (cf. Connor, 1995). Those who are smart but who have grown up in the ‘‘cool Black male’’ culture have to struggle with their identity and self-perceptions in academic settings where they are required to act in a different way. In contrast, showing interest in academic issues, studying hard, and being smart can be considered ‘‘acting White’’ among Black males, a critical barrier to pursuing high standards and to persistence in challenging academic work.



Thus, an important focus in our work with Black male students is to help them feel positive about being high-achieving and being a future scientist or engineer, and to help them develop strategies to counter all of the external influences that could pull them away from their work, or lead them to not wanting to be seen as too academic, too enthusiastic, or as being passionate about science. All of these potentially negative influences based on Black male culture and popular culture had to be successfully addressed by the program to alter Black males’ identity and help them to visualize themselves as capable of being future scientists or engineers.

THE MEYERHOFF PROGRAM The Meyerhoff Program is a multifaceted program attempting to address the academic, social, and cultural needs of underrepresented minorities. The program integrates 15 different components, briefly described as follows (cf. Maton & Hrabowski, 2004; Maton, Sto Domingo, Stolle-McAllister, Zimmerman, & Hrabowski, in press; for a more detailed description, see Gordon & Bridglall, 2004): Financial aid: All program trainees are provided with a comprehensive academic funding package that generally includes tuition, books, and room and board. Accordingly, students are expected to maintain a B average in a STEM major. Recruitment: The top 100–150 candidates among all applicants and their families are invited to one of the two recruitment weekends on the campus. Summer Bridge Program: Meyerhoff students are required to attend a mandatory pre-freshman orientation program. During this program, they take courses including math, science, and Africana studies. STEM-related co-curricular activities and sociocultural events are organized during the program. Study groups: All students are strongly and consistently encouraged to form and be involved in a study group. Program values: Academic achievement, acquiring help from a variety of sources, peer support, high academic goals (with an emphasis on Ph.D. attainment and research careers), and giving back to the community are the major program values. Program community: A family-like social and academic support system is presented to all Meyerhoff trainees. All Meyerhoff freshmen live in the same residence hall and are required to stay on campus until their graduation.

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Personal advising and counseling: Full-time advisors are made available to monitor and support Meyerhoff students on a regular basis. The advisors focus on both academic performance and planning and personal issues that students face. Tutoring: The Meyerhoff Program staff strongly encourages students to tutor others and/or be tutored to maximize academic achievement (i.e., to get As in difficult courses). Summer research internships: Students participate in summer research internships at leading sites around the country, as well as some international locations. Research experience during the academic year: A number of students also participate in the ‘‘MARC USTAR’’ program, which provides research experience in a faculty member’s laboratory during the student’s junior and senior years. Faculty involvement: Involvement of STEM department chairs and key faculty is an integral part of the recruitment and selection processes of the program. A number of faculty also open their laboratories to Meyerhoff students. Administrative involvement: The university supports the Meyerhoff Program at all levels, including ardent support from the President. Mentors: Each student is matched with a mentor who works in a science profession. Community service: All students are encouraged to participate in community service activities, which frequently involve volunteer work with at-risk Baltimore youth. Family involvement: Parents participate in social events and are kept advised of their child’s progress. The Meyerhoff Program has achieved dramatic success. We focus here on the success of African American males in the program. African American male Meyerhoffs in recent cohorts are three times as likely to attend, and to graduate from, STEM Ph.D. programs than equally talented African American males who were accepted to the program but who attended another university instead (declined comparison sample). Of note, in the last five cohorts studied, 44% of entering African American Meyerhoff students for whom post-college academic data are available attended STEM Ph.D. (or MD/Ph.D.) programs (another 15% attended medical school, 18% master’s programs, and 23% did not attend graduate or professional school). Indeed, the university has become a major contributor of Black undergraduates to science and engineering Ph.D. programs nationwide



(e.g., at Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale), and the Meyerhoff Program is widely viewed as a national model (cf. BEST, 2004; Staples, 2006). The success of the Meyerhoff Program for African American males can be perceived in campus-wide data as well. Whereas there were only 5 African American male graduates in natural STEM majors in 1990, 15 years later, in 2005, there were 31, an increase of over 300%. In contrast, during this same period, the number of European American male STEM graduates only increased 13% (157–178). In addition, there was a marked increase in GPAs from 2.71 to 2.99 among African American male STEM graduates from 1990 to 2005; in contrast, the GPAs among European American male STEM increased only modestly, from 3.05 to 3.13. (It is also instructive to see the marked improvement in the performance of Black male undergraduates in general. In spring, 1987, two years before the first class of Meyerhoff Scholars enrolled, the cumulative GPA of all Black male undergraduates was 1.99; as of spring, 2008, the cumulative GPA for this group was 2.43.) Of note, when the male Meyerhoff students began their freshman year in fall of 1989, no African American student at UMBC had ever earned an A in an upper level science or engineering course (although several Blacks from other countries had been successful in these fields). Today, whether looking at STEM grades, graduation rates, or retention rates, there are no substantial differences between Black male undergraduates and all other groups on campus (male or female).

Process Evaluation Findings Surveys and interviews have been administered periodically to assess student and faculty perspectives on the program (Maton et al., 2000, in press). Meyerhoff students report significant higher levels of support and lower levels of stress than declined students, including higher levels of benefit from study groups, financial support, academic advising, personal counseling, and networking opportunities, and lower levels of stress due to isolation from other minority students and lack of perceived faculty fairness. Several interview excerpts from African American male Meyerhoff students are included as follows, encompassing peer, staff, and financial support and mentoring components of the program: Number one in my book is the support. Having other smart, talented African Americans around you at all times is an asset. In high school I didn’t have that. I could count on one hand the number of smart, intelligent Black people that I could come to and say,

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‘‘I’m having problems in this class. What can you do? Maybe you can help me out, direct me to someone I can speak to.’’ [Studying together is] ‘‘my backbone as far as academic success.’’ I know that the staff are committed to me as a student because they always show interest, they are always keeping tabs on you. They seem to have a lot more confidence in what I can do than I do sometimes. The program really helps a great deal. They pay for your books. You don’t have to worry about money, like a lot of students who have to take a job to get through school. The Meyerhoff Program, you just do your work and everything is taken care of for you, so you can concentrate completely on academics. I was lucky enough to get an internship in a Black professor’s lab. I feel like I got to know him pretty well. We just talked sometimes, you know, just about the future and stuff like that, ways that I could do things in the future, different directions I could take.

PROGRAM STRATEGIES TO EFFECTIVELY RECRUIT AND SUPPORT BLACK MALES The Challenge of Recruitment In the first years of the program, our challenge was to recruit high-achieving African American males. Our approach was to contact school principals, guidance counselors, and science and math teachers to ask them to recommend their best African American male students. In most cases, those students, their families, and their teachers expected and wanted them to attend the most prestigious private universities in the country, which posed another challenge for the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. Our recruitment strategy was to suggest that the students be considered for the special Meyerhoff Weekend and, if invited, have an opportunity to meet other high-achieving African American males. Most students in this group were not accustomed to seeing large numbers of students like themselves in gifted-and-talented programs, or in the most rigorous highschool courses in science. Even more important, none of these students in the first year expected to attend UMBC. They came to the weekend because we presented the opportunity of visiting the campus for the weekend as one of prestige; they came also out of curiosity to meet other African American male high achievers. What was most significant about the weekend experience was the surprisingly high level of synergy and community that occurred among those Black males over a 24 hour period.



The weekend discussions focused on (1) the significance of being a young, gifted, African American male in science, (2) challenges that African Americans face in high school and college, in general, and in particular related to performance in science and engineering, (3) the young men’s dreams and possibilities for careers in science, engineering, and medicine, and (4) the Meyerhoff Program’s primary rationale of producing Black Ph.D. researchers. This last point was especially critical as we talked with families about the shortage of researchers and focused, for example, on biomedical challenges unique to populations of color. Our essential point was that if we do not have the best underrepresented minority students aspiring to become scientists, we would never solve those problems. As a result of the successful weekend, 19 of the 25 students invited ended up being in the first class of Meyerhoff Scholars. As we developed language to talk about both the success of our Black males and the challenges that Black males face in education and society, parents of these students, along with their teachers and counselors, became increasingly aware of our growing expertise in this area. The Meyerhoff Scholars Program became a one-of-a-kind program in a predominantly White setting that attracts underrepresented minorities, mostly African American males and females, with an ambition to pursue a career in STEM fields. Following the first several years of the program, there has been a boom in the number of applicants and the total number of recruits (the latter is due in part to an increased amount of funding available). The ultimate success of the program in attracting African American males is based on the foundation established the first year. Because we were able to help those students succeed, we could use their success when talking to subsequent groups of male and female candidates for the program. Our approach was to highlight strategies that had proven effective, and to revise the less effective approaches. Most important, because of the firstyear efforts, the program quickly developed a reputation of being distinctive because of its emphasis on Black males. Our decision in the second year to recruit women was the result of our interest in helping that group and also federal stipulations that initiatives like the Meyerhoff Program could not be for males exclusively. While we began to recruit women, we continued to emphasize the importance of recruiting Black males because of the shortage of high-achieving Black males in the K-12 systems in Maryland and the nation, and also due to the need to highlight the importance of giving this particular group support. To date, approximately 300 Black males and 300 Black females have entered the program; over the years, the percentage of entering males has ranged

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from a low of 39.3% (1996 entering class) to a high of 100% (1989 entering class), with an average across all years of 50.9%.

IDENTITY AS A BLACK MALE: CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO CULTURES Many of the African American male students are trying to think through their own identity because most have been influenced by the popular culture and have a certain view of Black males who act ‘‘cool.’’ During interviews that are part of the initial recruitment weekend on campus, for example, staff explain to Black males the importance of not being ‘‘laid back’’ in their responses to interview questions, because scientists and engineers are more impressed with students who show enthusiasm, passion, and ‘‘fire in the belly’’ for the work. Unfortunately, effervescence is simply not a characteristic associated with ‘‘cool’’ Black males in the popular culture. Staff observe a certain ambivalence among the students. On the one hand, students are working to excel in science, while on the other hand they are trying not to be seen as ‘‘acting White’’ or being a ‘‘nerd’’ or ‘‘geek.’’ Often, Black males feel that they are between two worlds – the academic world, science and engineering on the one hand, and the pop-culture world, their neighborhoods, and the campus community on the other. We find the same ambivalence among Black females, although the staff perception is that there is even more pressure on the young men, in some cases, to de-emphasize enthusiasm for science in off-campus settings because of the need to be accepted by peers, especially in their neighborhoods. Fortunately, the campus community of African Americans at UMBC may be somewhat different than that of other campuses because of our concerted efforts to make it ‘‘cool’’ for all students, including African Americans, to be focused on academic work and high achievement. We do not see peers looking down on students who regularly talk about science. It is not just acceptable, but desirable for students to be able to talk comfortably in groups about biochemistry and AIDS research, for example, and the more facile a student is with that language, the more impressive the student is considered. In fact, we have seen successful students here able to strengthen their identity and sense of self and to move away from that ambivalent position. Those who are not successful continue to waffle back and forth about seeming not to be too excited about the work, not wanting



to listen to advice, not participating in a group, or not wanting to talk about the problems they may be facing. One of the ways the program attempts to influence students’ emerging sense of self is to involve them in community service with inner city children. Such work has the potential to enhance their emotional and intellectual development, and helps to reinforce the program’s goal of preparing scientists and engineers who will be role modes for minority students. One of the most sustained efforts has been the Choice Program (run through UMBC’s Shriver Center), which engages the Meyerhoff students with young first-time offenders, including many Black and Latino boys, 8–18 years old. The Choice Program involves supervising these children 24 hour a day, seven days a week for up to a year or more. A number of Black males in the Meyerhoff Program have served as mentors in this effort, which helps them think about a number of factors, including how difficult the life of a Black boy in poverty is and how challenging the backgrounds of these children are, how fortunate they themselves are, how important intervention is, and the role they may play in the future in helping poor children.

PERSONAL AND SOCIAL LIFE One of the challenges to supporting males in the program was that many of the students were reluctant to seek or accept help and advice. A number of the students have sometimes felt that getting help was a sign of weakness or intellectual inferiority. Moreover, many were not accustomed to needing or receiving support in their personal life before joining the program. In the program, such students initially said they were getting help or working in groups, but simply were not following through. Staff usually learned about this when students performed poorly, and they subsequently held additional conversations with these students. These students were similar to other high-achieving college students who were accustomed to working independently in high school. For these reluctant students, disappointment with academic performance was the primary reason that they eventually understood the importance not only of accepting, but also actually seeking, help and working collaboratively with others. This reluctance appears to be even more of the case for young men than young women. Such reluctance also occurs despite our constant efforts to show students the relationship between teamwork and success in the professional world and continuous discussion about why and how they should seek help and advice from others.

Strategies to Increase African American Male Participation in Science


Another issue was students’ desire to continue their previous engagements from before joining college, such as sports. A number of the students have been athletes in high school and want to know if they should continue with their involvement in formal athletic programs, especially because of the demands of participating in NCAA Division I competition. In the earlier years, we discouraged students from participating because of the rigor of the coursework; however, our experience has shown that students who have been accustomed to running track or playing tennis in high school, for example, not only missed that activity when they came to UMBC, but also found themselves unable to be as disciplined about their academic work the way they had been in high school. In other words, students appreciated the fact that even though the intercollegiate competition required considerable time, they had to be even more careful with time management and in organizing their activities. And so in recent years, a number of Meyerhoff young men have been successful in combining intercollegiate athletic activities with academic work. Perhaps one of the more sensitive conversations we have with young men in the program involves issues of sex and sexuality. We have special sessions that focus on their relationships with young women and that address those values we consider most important in the program. These include having respect for other people in general and young women in particular, being careful to think through the nature of one’s relationships with young women, building friendships with others, learning how to be supportive of other students, both men and women, academically and emotionally, and taking the time to make careful decisions about sexual activity, including using protection to prevent disease and pregnancy. It is interesting that some of the students show considerable embarrassment when these topics are discussed. We use the opportunity to explain that they are preparing to become researchers and physicians and need to learn to discuss issues of sex and sexuality with comfort in a professional manner. What cannot be changed is that these young men have come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some come from very religious and spiritual backgrounds; in this light, staff have to be careful not to appear to be contradicting what their parents have told them. Also, the young men vary widely in the extent and nature of their prior sexual experience. Generally speaking, staff must work to be as realistic as possible with the young men about the challenges they may face. The challenge is to speak both broadly enough and specifically enough to address different kinds of issues (including sexual responsibility, respect for women) that students will face in their relationships, particularly during their first years on campus, and to



encourage the students themselves to speak comfortably about these issues. Consistent with the practices on campus and university policy on diversity, we teach students to respect the rights of other students, including diverse perspectives on sexual orientation, and staff are open in talking with students about tolerance and acceptance. More generally, the role of staff has always been critical in identifying and solving the problems of our scholars. They are very effective in identifying students from the beginning who exhibit characteristics that may be problematic. One particular strategy is for staff to talk among themselves about approaches that may work with particular students, for example, working with parents, choosing upper level students who may be able to relate more easily to the student, and even having intervention sessions with students who are not doing well because of poor study habits, an uncooperative attitude, or problems with skills. One other strategy involves appropriate advising and making hard decisions about whether a student has the potential to succeed in science, or whether the student needs to go back first to strengthen his background in math or science. Interestingly, staff tell us that they have had to spend considerably more time in difficult situations with the males than with the females to ensure their success. These difficult situations often involve students’ attitudes or their reluctance sometimes to do what we want them to do, or to accept advice. Males are disproportionately involved in those cases (staff estimate at least 60% of the cases involve males). It has been important to take time to think through approaches to use in trying to influence those young men in order to get them to follow directions, adhere to guidelines, meet deadlines, and to persist and be successful. It takes much more effort with a number of the males than with the females. In other words, if we are having problems with students who are resistant to taking advice, it is more likely to happen with African American males.

CHARACTERISTICS OF MALE STUDENTS WHO SUCCEED There is wide variation in terms of the students’ backgrounds. Some are from small rural towns, while others are from urban areas or wealthy suburbs. Some have attended science-and-technology high schools, while others come from fairly weak, underfunded comprehensive schools. Some students have been the only Black person in their classes, while others have

Strategies to Increase African American Male Participation in Science


attended predominantly Black schools. Many are from educated homes with college-educated parents, while others are the first to attend college in their families. Indeed, the students’ backgrounds have a great deal to do with their comfort level in UMBC’s highly integrated setting, their attitudes toward Whites, their level of sophistication, the strength of their math and science skills, their study habits, and their aspirations and visions of themselves in the future. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics and determinants of students’ future success is the willingness to take advice. For example, we advise students who have earned the highest score of 5 on Advanced Placement physics and calculus tests to begin their UMBC coursework with Calculus I and Physics I – the beginning freshman courses. Those students who did not take our advice in the earlier years tended to earn Bs and Cs in the second-level courses, and mediocre grades tend to foretell mediocre performance in later courses due to the sequentially based nature of math and science courses. In contrast, students who take our advice, even if they do not have as strong a background as the less cooperative students, tend to do much better in the long run. Also, students who are willing to talk about their challenges – from feeling intimidated in the university setting or not being comfortable with students who are different from themselves to being shy or reluctant to talk to a professor or to take advantage of group study – are more likely to find the help they need to overcome those obstacles. Unfortunately, students who are less successful tend to be more inward in their approach, less willing to say what is wrong, and less forthcoming in discussing their problems. Students who succeed are often not only willing to talk about their problems, but also learn how to be resilient when they do not do well. One of the traits we frequently emphasize, because most students at one point or another will make mistakes and encounter difficulty with a course, is the importance of learning from those mistakes and bouncing back to continue on, rather than focusing on the failure. So, willingness to take advice, being willing to be forthcoming about challenges, and resilience are three characteristics common to most students who are successful. Further, students in science who exhibit curiosity are assertive about taking advantage of opportunities to become involved in research (especially by getting to know a variety of scientists or engineers on the campus), and, most important, who show the discipline and hard work necessary to be the best are often the most successful. Successful students also tend to understand the importance of building community, of having a network of support, of working with others on coursework, and



participating in the activities of the Meyerhoff Program designed to encourage discussion.

INFLUENCE OF MEYERHOFF FEMALES The Meyerhoff Scholars Program was first designed as a males-only program. It then was modified to include both genders. We view this transformation as a positive one for several reasons. First, when we have a program with all Black males, there is a lot of backlash, especially from Whites, which takes a lot of energy to address. Interestingly, during the first year of the program, while Black women were pleased to see such a program, staff spent an inordinate amount of time having to defend the program because of criticism, especially from women’s groups that were not of color. Second, the country needs as many scientists and engineers as we can produce, and there are so many challenging issues, for example, involving women in science and engineering, that it has been helpful for us to look at some of those issues in the context of thinking about Black males. One particular challenge we faced in the early years of integrating women into the program was that, unlike the all-male sessions in which many of the males participated relatively comfortably in the discussions, staff observed that, increasingly, most of the comments made during the discussions were made by women. Over a period of time, it became clear that, more and more, the males felt comfortable with the women doing the talking for the whole group. Staff responded to this challenge by encouraging the entire group to think and talk about why this was the case and to notice who was doing the talking. In short, the staff encouraged the students to observe their own behavior and asked them about this pattern. Most important, we developed the practice on a number of occasions of suggesting that, when possible, students would alternate by gender in giving responses to create more balance. Nevertheless, it is true that when women were introduced to the program, the men stopped thinking of the program as being specifically for them, and there was some resentment by men in the early years. We find that women often help the men with maturity and in thinking through relationships between men and women. Women often provide emotional support for the men and for one another – they learn how to talk to each other as friends and colleagues, which helps to prepare them for a world where they will work with other people. Women also seem to have a

Strategies to Increase African American Male Participation in Science


positive impact on the productivity level of men in the program. Men and women help each other to get the work done.

AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE LEADERSHIP Because of societal stereotypes and low expectations, envisioning themselves as leaders of the future is a challenge for minority students. Having African American males in a position of leadership and authority – from President of the University to program Director and Black male presidents of the campus student government association – gives students, particularly Black males, an opportunity to see people who look like themselves in key roles and to think about the possibility of what they might do in leadership roles in the future. Perhaps it also suggests to them that the environment is a fair one, that is, that the university placed those Black leaders in leadership positions as a result of evaluating their qualifications and worth without regard to race. The fact that the university has Black males in leadership roles says something important to these students – and their families – about judging people based on their merit and character, and not on the basis of their race. Being exposed to African American leaders and role models helps empower students to take on leadership roles. For example, in recent years, Black male Meyerhoff graduates have become leaders of campus- and national-level undergraduate and graduate student academic associations (e.g., National Society of Black Engineers, American Medical Student Association).

THE LARGER CAMPUS CONTEXT Some members of the campus community did not readily accept the changes that were brought by the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in its early years, and were somewhat reluctant to talk about minority issues. Initially, in many cases, faculty and administrators and students were surprised to see large numbers of African American males achieving at the highest levels academically in science and engineering – in part because they had not seen it before. Over time, though, people in general here have become accustomed to seeing high achievement among Black males, and expectations have changed accordingly. Relatedly, students, faculty, and staff of all



races appear to have developed, over time, increasing comfort with discussing minority issues in education. An enduring perception, however, is that the Black males in the Meyerhoff Program receive more support than other students (which is true), and, as a result, people sometimes express concerns about fairness. A number of them have suggested that the extra support should be given to weaker students rather than to students, like the Meyerhoffs, who enter college well prepared; in fact, we have seen Black and White students who have been quite bothered by the special status that Black males in the Meyerhoff Program have. However, it needs to be emphasized that many faculty and students are very proud of the Meyerhoffs. In the first year, African American students, in general, at the university complained to the staff that they did not think it was fair to have a special program for high achievers. Staff responded by inviting these students to think about why they were bothered by the special treatment and support given to students to promote high academic achievement, though, in contrast, they were comfortable with the special support being given to student-athletes, including Black student-athletes. Having that discussion proved to be a healthy approach to encouraging the students to think about their own values, practices, and personal goals. It also helped to stimulate discussion about opportunities for students, in general, to become involved in the program based on their performance and efforts in subsequent years. The university administration’s perspective on the program is, first of all, that the university has been able to produce a level of academic success among African American males that rarely, if ever, has been seen in predominantly White universities in the rest of the country. Moreover, because of the Meyerhoff Program’s deliberate and proactive effort to recruit and graduate high-achieving young African American males in science, the campus’s Black student population is now half male, which, in itself, is a major accomplishment. The success of Black males in the Meyerhoff Program – exemplifying excellence and diversity – has brought much national attention to the campus, resulting in millions of dollars of funding from national agencies, foundations, companies, and individuals for scholarships, faculty support, and program evaluation. Moreover, many Black males not in the Meyerhoff Program work with Black males who are, which has contributed to Black males, in general, achieving well academically. For example, among 2008 graduates, the average GPA of African American males was 2.94. Among a number of faculty and staff, there is tremendous pride in the Meyerhoff students and recognition that the students’ success is tied directly

Strategies to Increase African American Male Participation in Science


to faculty and staff support. One key factor that makes the program so distinctive and successful is that large numbers of our STEM faculty, which is heavily White male (given the current makeup of the nation’s science and engineering workforce; less than 2% of the UMBC STEM faculty are African American) have taken ownership of this effort – indeed, it takes researchers to produce researchers. Much of the success of African American Meyerhoff males can be attributed to the commitment of faculty, in general, to these students. Faculty regularly ‘‘pull’’ the students into their research, articulate high expectations in the classroom, and have substantive personal interactions with the students. Even among those who may be bothered by the uneven level of support for other students (they simply want to see other students achieving at the same level), there is respect for the achievements of the Meyerhoff students, and the university has been working to identify other sources of support for other groups of students not affiliated with special scholarship programs like the Meyerhoff Program. Meyerhoff Program staff also identify African American males, not in the program, who are majoring in STEM fields to encourage them to work with Meyerhoff students in group study. In a number of cases, these students have done so well that they have been invited to become officially affiliated with the program. Lessons learned about the performance of Black males and females have been helpful in looking at STEM performance at UMBC in general. As a result, more and more people have been respectful of the ‘‘spillover,’’ or ‘‘value added,’’ by working with Black males on campus. More generally, the success of the program has engendered a lot of good will on the campus. In part, this reflects the successful collaboration between African American leaders and the campus community. Students, faculty, and staff thus observe and experience a successful collaboration among African American and others of all races, indicating the importance of inclusiveness and collaboration across races. Our work with African American males and other minority students has led to our proposing a theory of change that is a basis for strengthening an institution (Maton, Hrabowski, Ozdemir, & Wimms, 2008). More specifically, the proposed theory is designed to strengthen recruitment and retention initiatives involving minority students in higher education. The approach can be used by an institution in addressing the particular issues and challenges faced by any underrepresented group at the institution – from African American males to other men and women of color, and, in fact, to women in general in science and engineering since they often represent a minority in many STEM disciplines. It is significant that because



the Meyerhoff Program was first established to recruit and prepare African American males in science, the campus began to develop strengths in focusing on this group 20 years ago. We have also taken the time to examine the impact of opening the Meyerhoff Program to other races (Maton, Hrabowski, & Ozdemir, 2007). Even after the Meyerhoff Program was opened to women and other races, the program and the university have continued to give special attention to African American males. In fact, approximately 50% of all African American students, both in the Meyerhoff Program and on campus, are males.

IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSION African American males face unique challenges in attaining collegiate success, challenges that go above and beyond their academic capabilities. Programs like the Meyerhoff Scholarship program are designed to support Black males at multiple levels to ensure their success. Many of the strategies that have been implemented with the Meyerhoff Program can also be utilized at other college and university campuses. In fact, a number of schools – ranging from research universities such as Cornell, the University of Michigan, and Louisiana State University to the premier liberal arts college for African American males, Morehouse College – have worked with the Meyerhoff Program as a basis for beginning a wide range of related programs. Here we list key areas where intervention may be helpful for African American males:  Recruitment: Campuses should actively recruit African American males. These recruitment efforts should communicate that the university is interested in having this group on campus, committed to their success and concerned about meeting their social and academic needs. Most important, documenting and communicating the success of this group to families of potential students has proven particularly effective. Equally important, engaging Black male students, themselves, as recruiters can be an effective technique.  Social support: Programs should be in place beginning in the freshman year to encourage interaction among Black males and between males and females. Opportunities should be developed for the males to develop close relationships with upperclassmen and with faculty/staff. The presence of a social network which includes other successful African Americans can provide encouragement and support. Seeing and interacting with

Strategies to Increase African American Male Participation in Science


African American males in leadership positions will allow the males to envision themselves in leadership positions and show them ways to take ownership of their campus. Interact with students from different backgrounds: It is important to encourage students to interact not only with other African American students, but also with students of different backgrounds, with an emphasis on connecting to the highest achieving students without regard to race. In fact, one of the major suggestions that Meyerhoff staff regularly make to students is that they move beyond their comfort zones to develop relationships with people different from themselves. Students should be told not only that it is healthy to connect with other African American students, but also that it is important to take advantage of getting to know students from other racial and ethnic backgrounds. Faculty and staff involvement: It is critical that both non-African American and African American faculty are involved in efforts to support Black males in the sciences. It is important to generate awareness among faculty and staff about stereotypes (academic and non-academic) that can affect Black males. All should be encouraged to examine their own views and academic stereotypes and consider ways in which they can support African American male students in their classrooms, laboratories, and in general. Academic advising: Campus administrators should ensure that course selection and academic goal-setting are included as an integral part of the orientation process. It will be very helpful for students to understand which prerequisites are needed for more advanced courses and the typical courseload for their discipline. Staff and faculty should encourage regular evaluation of degree progress to ensure that students remain focused. Research opportunities: It is important to provide opportunities for African American males with interests in STEM majors to experience hands-on research opportunities in faculty member laboratories. This could be part of a funded program (e.g., MARC), or simply reflect a concerted effort on the part of faculty within given STEM departments. Arranging for summer internship possibilities represents an additional, important facet of the process of engaging student interest and helping them to develop the skills and connections to help them proceed to STEM graduate school and STEM careers. Financial aid: Although there is socioeconomic diversity among African Americans males, a disproportionate amount still come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Schools that can provide financial support for academically talented African American males can be very helpful in advancing the educational process. Financial worries and/or working to



fund their education often serve to prevent African American males from devoting their full attention to their studies.  Study groups: Faculty should encourage students to form study groups early in the learning process by providing assignments which require collaboration. Campus administration should seek forums in which students can form mid-sized study groups as well as provide guidelines for effective ways to study with others. Studying together offers all students (and particularly African American males) motivation and support, and helps students to become more engaged with the material.  Listening to the voices of African American males: The Meyerhoff Program has succeeded in part because it has continually sought out opportunities to hear the voices of the African American males in the program. It has proved invaluable for the success of the program to understand and learn from them what their experiences have been, how they view themselves and the challenges they face, and what aspects of the program can be strengthened or changed.  Advice for parents: Our advice to parents of Black males going to college includes – (1) find out if the institution evaluates the performance of Black males on the campus; (2) look at the perceptions of Black male students in terms of the support they receive and their performance (e.g., grades and retention and graduation rates); (3) look to see if there are examples of Black males in positions of authority with whom students can relate; and (4) look to see if Whites on the campus are comfortable talking about issues involving race, in general, and related to Black males, in particular. More generally, in-depth information about approaches to successful parent African American males who are successful in STEM careers can be found in our book, Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males (Hrabowski, Maton, & Greif, 1998). In conclusion, the success of Black males at our university is largely the result of a deliberate effort on the part of a number of faculty and administrators to address proactively issues involving these young men. On many campuses, people are often uncomfortable talking about this group. Honest dialog among campus leaders – listening to the voices of the students, themselves, and both those who have succeeded and those who have not – can lead to considerable understanding on the part of all about the challenges that both the students and the institution face. The fundamental question that all of us must ask is, ‘‘Are we confident that the environment of the campus encourages and supports Black males to achieve academically at the highest levels?’’

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REFERENCES Allen, W. R. (1992). The color of success: African-American college student outcomes at predominately white and historically black public colleges and universities. Harvard Educational Review, 62, 45–65. Barlow, A., & Villarejo, M. (2004). Making a difference for minorities: Evaluation of an educational enrichment program. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41, 861–881. BEST. (2004, February). A bridge for all: Gateways of higher education into America’s scientific and technological workforce. Retrieved November 8, 2006, from http://www.bestworkforce. org/PDFdocs/BEST_High_Ed_Rep_48pg_02_25.pdf Bonsangue, M. V., & Drew, D. E. (1995). Increasing minority students’ success in calculus. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (51), 23–33. Cole, S., & Barber, E. (2003). Increasing faculty diversity: The occupational choices of highachieving minority students. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Connor, M. K. (1995). What is cool? Understanding black manhood in America. New York: Crown. Gandara, P., & Maxwell-Jolly, J. (1999). Priming the pump: Strategies for increasing the achievement of underrepresented minority undergraduates. New York: College Board. Gordon, E. W., & Bridglall, B. L. (2004). Creating excellence and increasing ethnic minority leadership in science, engineering, mathematics and technology: A study of the Meyerhoff Scholars program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Unpublished Report. Authors. Grandy, J. (1998). Persistence in science of high-ability minority students: Results of a longitudinal study. The Journal of Higher Education, 69(6), 589–620. Hrabowski, F. A., Maton, K. I., & Greif, G. (1998). Beating the odds: Raising academically successful African American males. New York: Oxford University Press. Hrabowski, F. A., & Pearson, W. (1993). Recruiting and retaining talented African-American males in college science and engineering. Journal of College Science Teaching, 22, 234–238. Maton, K. I., & Hrabowski, F. A., III. (2004). Increasing the number of African American Ph.D.s in the sciences and engineering: A strengths-based approach. American Psychologist, 59, 629–654. Maton, K. I., Hrabowski, F. A., & Ozdemir, M. (2007). Opening an African American STEM Program to talented students of all races: Evaluation of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, 1991–2005. In: G. Orfield, P. Marin, S. M. Flores & L. M. Garces (Eds), Charting the future of college affirmative action: Legal victories, continuing attacks, and new research (pp. 125–156). Los Angeles, CA: The Civil Rights Project, UCLA. Maton, K. I., Hrabowski, F. A., Ozdemir, M., & Wimms, H. (2008). Enhancing representation, retention and achievement of minority students in higher education: A social transformation theory of change. In: M. Shinn & H. Yoshikawa (Eds), Toward positive youth development: Transforming schools and community programs (pp. 115–132). New York: Oxford University Press. Maton, K. I., Hrabowski, F. A., III., & Schmitt, C. L. (2000). African American college students excelling in the sciences: College and post-college outcomes in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37, 629–654. Maton, K. I., Sto Domingo, M. R., Stolle-McAllister, K. E., Zimmerman, J. L., & Hrabowski, F. A., III. (in press). Enhancing the number of African Americans who pursue STEM



PhDs: Meyerhoff Scholarship Program outcomes, processes, and individual predictors. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering. May, G. S., & Chubin, D. E. (2003). A retrospective on undergraduate engineering success for underrepresented minority students. Journal of Engineering Education, 92, 27–38. McHenry, W. (1997). Mentoring as a tool for increasing minority student participation in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology undergraduate and graduate programs. Diversity in Higher Education, 1, 115–140. Nettles, M. T. (Ed.) (1988). Toward black undergraduate student equality in American higher education. New York: Greenwood Press. O’Connor, C. (1999). Race, class, and gender in America: Narratives of opportunity among low-income African American youths. Sociology of Education, 72, 137–157. Seymour, E., & Hewitt, N. M. (1997). Talking about leaving: Why undergraduates leave the sciences. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Staples, B. (2006, May 25). Why American college students hate science. New York Times, p. A 26. Swail, W. S., Cabrera, A. F., Lee, C., & Williams, A. (2005). Latino students and the educational pipeline: A three-part series. Part II: Pathways to the bachelor’s degree for Latino students. Stafford, VA: Educational Policy Institute. Treisman, U. (1992). Studying students studying calculus: A look at the lives of minority mathematics students in college. The College Mathematics Journal, 23, 362–372.

PERSISTENCE OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN MALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS IN ENGINEERING Terrence L. Freeman and Marcus A. Huggans OVERVIEW The twenty-first century will be dominated by technological change as the United States competes in an increasingly interdependent world. If the United States is to maintain its technological leadership, an inclusive engineering education is required. Engineering impacts many important aspects of day-to-day life from the environment to national security and half of our graduate degrees in engineering are granted to foreign nationals. While this influx of creative talent enriches the academic community, the underutilization of domestic talent threatens the engineering enterprise with professional shortages in university classrooms, research facilities, and corporate boardrooms. We are simultaneously challenged with addressing the shrinking pool of African-American males in higher education. The challenge is daunting but not insurmountable. Many African-American students have aspirations for engineering without the preparation and the community college is well suited to provide the bridge between aspiration and accomplishment. Community colleges serve 46% of all African-American

Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 229–251 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006016




students in higher education and there are exemplary programs that have tapped the underdeveloped resources in the African-American community. One example is the Emerson Minority Engineering Scholarship Program. By utilizing best practices, this program has helped to increase the pool of African-American engineers by providing opportunities to students who may have made other academic choices. This paper reviews persistence literature and discusses the challenges and strategies in developing a community collegebased minority engineering program. In an increasingly technological and interdependent world, engineering is one of the careers that will fuel the engine of economic growth (Reichert & Absher, 1997). If the United States is to maintain its technological leadership in this interdependent global economy, an inclusive engineering education is required. Unfortunately the number of engineering graduates in the United States is sufficient in neither size nor inclusiveness to maintain technological leadership. Brainard and Carlin (1998) report that undergraduate engineering enrollments declined from 406,000 students in 1983 to 318,000 by 1996. The number rose with some fluctuation to 409,000 by 2005. The number of engineering degrees granted also declined from almost 78,000 in 1985 to just over 65,000 in 1997. The number of degrees has been relatively steady over the last 10 years with 66,000 graduates in 2005 (National Science Board, 2008) and 68,000 in 2006 (NACME, 2008). Stagnant or shrinking engineering enrollments pose a potentially serious problem for American industry and society in general. The ratio of baccalaureate science and engineering graduates to the population of 24 year olds is lower in the United States than in the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Canada, Germany, and Italy (National Science Board, 2008). Although frequently overstated, there is also growing technological pressure from India, China, and South Korea. The United States is facing a knowledge gap with 25% of the science and engineering workforce reaching retirement age by 2010 along with an increasing dependence on foreign students in higher education. Students on temporary visas earned 25% of the science and engineering bachelor’s degrees, 28% of the master’s degrees, and 36% of all S&E doctorates in 2005. In engineering, foreign nationals earned 46% of master’s degrees and 57% of doctoral degrees in 2004 (National Science Board, 2008). Noeth, Cruce, and Harmston (2003) assert: The future of engineering in the US may be in jeopardy. We don’t have the numbers of prospective students, and many of those students aren’t prepared. The science of engineering impacts many important aspects of our day-to-day lives, including our national security, healthcare, and the environment, so these findings should not be taken lightly.

African-American Engineering Student Persistence


Although the total number of engineering graduates at the baccalaureate level has declined since the mid-1980s, the percentage of engineering degrees awarded to underrepresented (African, Hispanic, and Native American) minorities has increased steadily from 2.9% in 1973 to 9.2% in 1995 (Reichert & Absher, 1997) to 12% in 2006 (NACME, 2008). Even with the increase, the percentage of engineering degrees awarded to minorities is less than half of the combined representation of these minorities in the US population. In the midst of an international financial crisis, there is a new urgency in filling and reinforcing the STEM pipeline. For the United States to remain globally competitive, it must create a workforce that resembles America, especially in the innovative technological careers of the twentyfirst century. The National Science Board (2008) recognizes the problem when it asserts: The lack of diversity in the engineering workforce and in the engineering-education pipeline, poses significant, and growing, costs and risks for the engineering profession. First and foremost, the extreme under-representation of major segments of American society in engineering poses a moral and social dilemma, and, unless actions are taken to change the situation, the opportunity costs to the engineering enterprise and the nation will increase in the coming decades.

Increasing the representation is challenged by some disturbing trends. Over 1 million US students drop out of high school every year and of those who do graduate only 4% are ‘‘engineering eligible’’ (NACME, 2008). Although 30% of the nation’s undergraduate students are underrepresented minorities, only 12% of baccalaureate engineering graduates fit that classification and 92% of current engineering faculty members do not belong to an underrepresented minority group. Persistence to graduation in engineering for underrepresented minorities in the United States is 39% compared to 62% for non-minority students. The NACME National Symposium Report (2008) warns: Our national shortage of engineers, coupled with the increasing diversity of our population, has made minority representation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers more than a matter of fairness. Full use of all our human resources has become imperative for the success of our businesses, the health of our economy, and our national security.

Although the challenge of increasing representation cuts across ethnicity and gender, African-American male participation in higher education is particularly challenging. The dropout rate of African-American males in high school is greater than 50% in the largest urban school districts and the rate is often masked by the greater number and relative success of African-American females. In community colleges, African-American males



are the only ethnic/gender cohort with less than a 50% first-year persistence rate (Freeman, 2003). Poverty, criminality, and incarceration are just some of the dire consequences when students fail to complete high school. There is no shortage of data characterizing the deficiencies and pathologies confronting African-American males. These challenges come in a century that is witness to extraordinary African-American male accomplishment at the highest levels of government, education, technology, and the arts. The twenty-first century conversation on race must address the negative consequences for the resources and competitive edge of the nation when African-American males are not fully represented in the economic opportunities of the twenty-first century. The challenge is daunting but not insurmountable. Community colleges are an underutilized resource for preparing underrepresented students for engineering careers. The most recent published data from the American Association of Community Colleges (2008) provide a profile of the 1,195 community colleges in the United States. Community colleges serve 6.5 million credit-seeking students nationally. Approximately 46% of all firsttime freshmen and 46% of US undergraduates are enrolled in community colleges, and over half a million associate degrees are awarded annually. The student population is 60% female and 41% full time (12 credit hours or more). Community colleges serve 46% of all African-American students, 55% of all Hispanic students, 46% of all Asian/Pacific Islander students, and 55% of all Native American students in undergraduate higher education. The community college is an affordable post-secondary option with an average annual tuition of $2,361 and only one-third of community college students receive any federal financial aid. Community colleges have already established an indispensable role in the education of engineers in the United States with 20% of degreed engineers beginning their academic careers by earning at least 10 credits at community colleges (Adelman, 1999). In a related study, 40% of the students obtaining engineering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1999 and 2000 took some classes at a community college (Tsapogas, 2004). The challenge is less about attracting students to the community college than keeping them on track once they arrive. This means addressing the specific needs of underrepresented minorities while creating a more user-friendly culture of engineering. Landis (1995) describes the negative impact that the culture of engineering may have when he writes: Sometimes it appears that we don’t want our students to succeed. We seem to go out of our way to avoid helping our students to learn to be effective. Our view of subjects like

African-American Engineering Student Persistence


professional development, academic success strategies, personal development, and orientation is that they are not ‘‘academic.’’ y We are reluctant to find room for them in our already full curricula y But it goes even further than that. We sometimes seem pleased by the fact that many of our students don’t succeed. We find comfort in the view that ‘‘not everyone can be an engineer.’’ Our approach is to put up a difficult challenge and believe that we have done a service to the profession by ‘‘weeding out’’ those who don’t measure up. We tend to hold the black-and-white view that ‘‘some have it, and some don’t.’’ (pp. ix–x)

The resilience of the American economy has consistently depended on innovation and technological development as a key to global leadership. Attracting and retaining underrepresented students to STEM majors and careers is a national interest.

LITERATURE REVIEW Persistence Theories Tinto’s (1993) multivariate model of student retention in post-secondary institutions explains student departure from college prior to graduation through a comprehensive set of demographic, cognitive, psycho-social, and institutional factors. The model proposes that both student characteristics and student experience with the social and academic environments of the institution are the principal determinants of educational goals and institutional commitment. The combination of attributes and interactions provides the foundation for the student’s decision to persist or withdraw from college. Tinto suggests that students may integrate in two distinct arenas: social and academic. Social integration consists of the social ties that result from the day-to-day interactions within the college community. Academic or intellectual integration results from sharing information, perspectives, and values common to other members of the community. A student may be able to achieve one mode of integration without achieving the other. A student who is well integrated socially might still withdraw from the institution because of insufficient integration into the academic domain of the college. Students must secure acceptance in both social and academic circles of the institution to ensure persistence. In Tinto’s theory, the more students are integrated into the social and academic fabric of the campus, the more they become committed to the goal of graduation. This integration also enhances loyalty to the individual institution which, in turn, increases the likelihood that students will persist and graduate



(Mutter, 1992). Although Tinto’s model suggests that the decision to withdraw is primarily the result of the interaction of the student within the college environment, Tinto also believes that external commitments along with the student’s pre-entry skills and attributes contribute significantly to the departure decision. Tinto also states that faculty interaction may be even more important for marginal students attending commuter institutions than for similar students at residential institutions. Much of the research on student persistence utilizes Tinto’s model, even though it was originally developed around one all-male four-year residential college in the northeast region of the United States. The growing population of students who begin their post-secondary academic experience at community colleges has largely been ignored by the body of research attempting to apply Tinto’s model. Little is known about the factors that influence persistence behavior on this important group of students. Cohen (1995) describes the community college as an institution that confers the associate degree in arts or science, and also awards certificates of proficiency and specialization to students or employees seeking to advance their careers or improve their marketability. He goes on to note that the community college’s multiple functions of offering career, collegiate, developmental, and continuing education to students have been well accepted by the public as well as state and federal funding agencies. Cohen further asserts that a community college can be found within commuting distance of nearly all the people in the United States. Commuter students are less influenced by college experiences to change their aspirations and goal commitments. A 1992 national study conducted by the American College Testing Program indicates that 50% of first-time, full-time students at four-year colleges fail to earn a bachelor’s degree within five years of entry (Feldman, 1993). The study also notes that graduation rates at public community colleges are substantially lower with less than 39% of students completing an associate’s degree within three years of initial entry. Since the missions and types of students attending community college are, in many cases, substantially different from four-year institutions, it might be expected that factors associated with attrition and retention would operate differently (Feldman, 1993). Many of the theories on student attrition do not account for the external forces that affect student participation and persistence in college. As a result, current theories of student retention are not particularly well suited to the study of non-residential institutions or the departure decisions of community college students (Mohamaddi, 1996).

African-American Engineering Student Persistence


Persistence in Engineering Heckel (1996) examines the impact of high-school graduation rates on engineering enrollments and then draws the following conclusions: The extreme cycles in engineering enrollments over the past three decades and the insensitivity of these cycles to variations in the number of high school graduates indicates that other factors can exert significant influence over engineering enrollments. The analysis presented here concludes that national economic trends do not correlate with engineering freshman enrollments. (p. 20)

Astin, Tsui, and Avalos (1996) identify the selection of a college major as a factor that influences student persistence. They note that enrollments in fields like business, psychology, or other social sciences generally have higher-than-expected retention rates, while students majoring in engineering have lower-than-anticipated retention. They conclude that persistence in engineering is typically different than persistence in college because of the rigorous demands of the engineering program. Moller-Wong and Eide (1997) determine that switching is a significant factor in the high attrition in engineering. Seymour and Hewitt (1997) examine the reasons that 40% of undergraduates leave engineering programs, 50% leave physics, and 60% leave mathematics. One of the major findings of their research is that students who switch majors do not differ from those who do in the individual attributes of performance, attitude, and behavior. The authors offer the following conclusion: Contrary to the common assumption that most switching is caused by personal inadequacy in the face of academic challenge, one strong finding is the high proportion of factors cited as significant in switching decisions which arise from structural or cultural sources within institutions, or from students’ concerns about their career prospects. (p. 32)

The authors suggest that students leave primarily due to a change in their relative interest in science, engineering, or mathematics as a major. Further exploration suggests that the level of student interest changes, in part, because of how the introductory material is presented. The authors report that faculty pedagogy is responsible for over one-third of the decisions to switch while over 90% of the students express concern about classroom teaching. Seymour and Hewitt also note that many students express concern that ‘‘faculty conspired to make their learning experiences harder than they needed to be’’ (p. 103). They go on to suggest that the same problems that encourage students to leave science, mathematics, and engineering make



persistence difficult for those who choose to stay. Landis (1995) also describes a negative impact on students from the ‘‘culture of engineering.’’ LeBold and Ward (1988) find that the best predictors of engineering persistence in college are the first and second semester college grades and cumulative grade point averages. They also assert that the best precollege engineering predictors are math, science, and English grades as well as high-school rank. Student self-perceptions of math and science problemsolving abilities are also suggested as strong predictors of engineering persistence. Besterfield-Sacre, Atman, and Shuman (1997) find a difference between the students who leave and the students who stay in engineering. By examining students who left engineering in good standing, they determined that those who left started out liking engineering less, had a lower appreciation of the engineering profession, differed in their mathematics and science interests, differed in their confidence to succeed in engineering, had more confidence in their communication skills, and had been somewhat influenced by family to pursue engineering. Besterfield-Sacre et al. conclude that students who switch may start out with the intention of graduating in engineering, but their general level of commitment is not as high as those who choose to stay. Takahira, Goodings, and Byrnes (1998) reinforce many of the previous findings when they report some of the reasons students choose to leave engineering: (1) Other non-scientific majors offered a better and more interesting education. (2) They rejected scientific careers and their associated lifestyle. (3) The engineering curriculum was too overwhelming and fast-paced. (4) Their morale was undermined by the competitive culture of engineering programs. (5) They experienced poor teaching by math, science, and engineering faculty. (6) They received inadequate advising and help. (7) They lacked confidence due to poor grades.

Persistence of Minorities Although efforts are underway to increase the level of K-12 interest and preparation for science and engineering, there are immediate needs in

African-American Engineering Student Persistence


addressing the persistence of African-American college students. Many African-American students leave college before completing a degree and much of the research on student persistence and retention focuses on a student deficit model where students are characterized as ‘‘dropping or stopping out’’ (Padilla, Trevino, Gonzales, & Trevino, 1997). Padilla et al. focus on retention by building an expertise model. The underlying assumption of their model is that successful college students are experts at achieving success at a specific college. Students arrive on campus with a certain amount of theoretical and practical knowledge that they acquired throughout their academic careers. Once on campus, the successful students acquire the additional practical knowledge that is required to successfully negotiate the challenges of campus life. Typically this heuristic knowledge is not provided in a formal manner. Tinto (1993) suggests that four clusters of factors lead to attrition: adjustment, difficulty, incongruence, and isolation. Padilla et al. (1997) identify four broad categories of barriers that successful minority students have to overcome. They label them as follows: discontinuity barriers which include obstacles to a student’s smooth transition from high school to college, lack-of-nurturing barriers which stem from the absence of supportive resources to facilitate the development and adjustment of minority students, lack-of-presence barriers which occur when there is an absence of minorities in the college population or program, and resource barriers related to insufficient financial aid. Nora, Cabrera, Hagedorn, and Pascarella (1996) identify institutional experiences, academic achievement, and environmental pull as the most significant factors contributing to persistence. They further argue that these factors have different effects on persistence for different ethnic and gender groups. Their study concurs with St. John (1994) in suggesting that minority status has a positive effect on persistence of minority males but not for minority females. Nora et al. (1996) also find that interaction with peers is positively associated with persistence for males and females, but interaction is not significant when just considering minority students. They also conclude that family responsibilities and off-campus employment are negatively associated with persistence. Reichert and Absher (1997) identify related barriers to African-American success in engineering such as inadequate academic preparation, substandard educational resources, mismatched social and academic expectations, lack of encouragement, psychological intimidation, unstable familial and financial circumstances, inadequate peer support, lack of role models and mentoring, low expectations by faculty, racism, and poor instruction/ advising.



Minority students bring different personal and social histories to their college and engineering experience; they may require different persistence strategies.

Persistence by Gender The majority of undergraduate students are women and they are more likely to complete a degree than men. This appears to hold true for both White and African-American students (Astin et al., 1996). Stoecker, Pascarella, and Wolfle (1988) find that for African-American males, socioeconomic status, high-school achievement, college experience, academic integration, and social integration have direct effects on persistence behavior while academic achievement has a direct effect on persistence for AfricanAmerican females. Nora et al. (1996) find that non-classroom relationships with faculty are positively associated with persistence for females only. Morgan (1996) complicates the analysis when he observes that expectations of high-school students have been changing over time and the extent of the change varies with gender and race. This may have consequential impact on the persistence of students as they enter post-secondary education. For community colleges, some research finds no significant relationship between gender and persistence (Cofer & Somers, 2000) while others find that women are less likely to persist (Bonham & Luckie, 1993; Lewallen, 1993). Still other research on community colleges suggests that the significance of gender may change with ethnicity (Somers, Cofer, Hall, & Vander Putten, 2000). Wolfle (1985) suggests that racial effects may be confounded by gender differences and that further study is merited. Freeman (2003) finds that for beginning first-time community college students, Asian males have the highest year-to-year persistence rate of any of the gender/ethnicity cohorts at 77.4% followed by Asian females at 71.1%. Both Asian cohorts persist at substantially higher rates than the other cohorts, although in other cohorts females have higher persistence rates than males. Hispanic females persist 62.8% of the time and Hispanic males persist at a rate of 58%. White males and females perform comparably in persistence at 57.9% and 58.5%, respectively. African-American females persist 53.4% of the time and outperform their male counterparts who make up the only cohort where the majority of students do not persist (48.8%). The performance of African-American students on the measure of persistence is consistent with other research on persistence and attainment (Astin et al., 1996; Cofer & Somers, 2000).

African-American Engineering Student Persistence


Although there are similarities among different gender and ethnicity cohorts, they are different with respect to persistence outcomes and the variables that are significantly related to persistence (Freeman, 2003). Aggregate figures can obscure smaller group distinctions by assuming the trend of a statistically dominant group, balancing conflicting correlations, or picking trends that are found only in the aggregate. The distinctions are why it is important to study separate cohorts. Freeman (2003) finds significant differences in the factors that influence persistence at community colleges for different ethnic and gender cohorts. African-American males and females do better when they participate in purposeful activities beyond the classroom experience and simple socializing with friends. Although research suggests that academic and social integration are important contributing factors for persistence, those factors do not work the same way in different ethnic and gender cohorts. For AfricanAmerican males, the three most significant factors were having degree aspirations, attending full time, and talking to faculty outside of class. The significant factors for African-American females included having degree aspirations, participating in clubs and activities, and financial assistance. The strategies that promote persistence are not automatically interchangeable across gender and ethnicity.

Institutional Environment Awareness of student background characteristics does not address the efforts that the colleges and universities make to improve persistence. Research reports a number of factors that influence retention at an institution above and beyond the student’s personal characteristics (Astin et al., 1996). Carter (1999) concludes that institutional characteristics and experiences have as much impact on student aspirations as SES or individual achievement. Tinto (1993) outlines three principles of institutional commitment in developing effective retention programs. He suggests that retention programs should be committed to: the students they serve; the education of all, not just some, students; and the development of supportive social and educational communities. Tinto goes on to offer the following caution about institutional retention programs: Although retention programs can be most helpful, they cannot replace the absence of a high quality, caring, and concerned faculty and staff. Institutions should therefore not be misled by the use of modern technology or marketing strategies y The road to institutional commitment and thus to student commitment does not require very



elaborate or high-cost interventions y rather, effective retention calls for sustained effort on the part of all institutional members to give to each and every student serious and honest attention on a daily basis. It requires, if you will, a continuing commitment to the education of students. No technology, however sophisticated, can replace that sort of commitment. (p. 201)

Hermond (1995) acknowledges the important role that colleges can play in improving student retention. He identifies seven institutional initiatives that are focused on improving the persistence of minorities in engineering programs:  matriculation, which is defined as the activities done with students between the time they are admitted and their first semester of enrollment;  orientation, which consists of a course, program, or activity which directs students towards setting and evaluating goals;  academic advising, which involves providing students with adequate information about available course options;  student organizations, which are designed to help fulfill the social and personal needs of students;  tutoring and academic workshops, which help students to achieve greater levels of self-reliance, self-confidence, and academic achievement;  personal counseling, which may be critical to the management of academic stress or the feeling of isolation that minority students may experience in an engineering program;  financial aid, which is critical to a population 30% of whom leave college due to a lack of funds. Reichert and Absher (1997) also identify seven characteristics of schools that do well in retaining minorities in engineering. The institutional attributes that they list are: sincere commitment, academic support, minority engineering societies, bridge programs and workshops, minority scholarships, outreach and clustering, and participation criteria. There is clear overlap in the two lists, but Reichert and Absher also make the point that the participation criteria of retention efforts for minority students should not be established and presented in ways that stigmatize participating students. They also make the point that minority students who participate in outreach efforts are more likely to persist. Attitudes and motivation may be critical retention factors, but they are difficult to quantify. Measures like self-confidence, sense of development, and individual stress experienced in the college environment influence the decision to stay or leave. Motivation is critical to maintaining the desire

African-American Engineering Student Persistence


and drive necessary to complete a rigorous engineering program (MollerWong & Eide, 1997). Seymour and Hewitt (1997) note that those who leave engineering, mathematics, or science have the same array of abilities, motivations, and behaviors as those who remain. They find that only 10% of the exiting students leave because they find a non-science major that is more suited to their abilities. They find that those who remain cite intrinsic interest in their major twice as often as those who switch. Those who persist develop a set of attitudes and coping strategies that position them to take advantage of serendipity. They cite the following attitudes and coping strategies as helpful in persistence in engineering: competence, confidence, persistence, assertiveness, strong interest in the discipline, and strong interest in the career. Blumner and Richards (1997) examine the role that study habits play in the persistence of engineering students by measuring the importance of distractibility, inquisitiveness, and compulsiveness. Distractibility is a measure of the degree to which students find it difficult to concentrate on their work. Inquisitiveness is a measure of the degree to which a student attempts to make sense of the subject matter (deep-level processing). Compulsiveness is a measure of the extent to which students try to accommodate details when they read or study (surface-level processing). The authors find that the engineering students who receive the highest grades tend to demonstrate lower levels of distractibility and higher levels of inquisitiveness. The students who score high on the compulsiveness scale generally try to memorize information in order to reproduce it, while the students who scored high on inquisitiveness try to develop insights about how the material might be used. High amounts of compulsive study do not correlate with better academic performance in engineering.

Transfer Seamlessness Pascarella, Smart, and Ethington (1986) recognize the commitment most two-year colleges have to the transfer function. Their research indicates that studies conducted at single institutions tend to identify students who transfer to four-year institutions as dropouts who have withdrawn from college. Many of these students leave a specific institution, but do not necessarily withdraw from higher education. Pascarella et al. (1986) use Tinto’s model to study the long-term persistence of students who began their post-secondary education in two-year community colleges and persisted to four-year baccalaureate degree completion. The results indicate that while



much of the influence of student pre-college traits is indirect, the two variables with the most consistent patterns of significant positive effects on degree completion are academic and social integration at the last college attended. The authors conclude that Tinto’s model is reasonably useful in accounting for the long-term persistence behavior of students who begin their post-secondary education careers in two-year institutions. Research documents that the ‘‘baccalaureate gap’’ between students who start at community colleges and those who start at senior institutions is not totally explained by reported differences in socioeconomic status, race, academic ability/preparation, ambition, or part-time status (Dougherty, 1992; Grubb, 1991). Carter (1999) suggests that the chief reason for this difference appears to be a lower level of academic and social integration. She concludes that community colleges tend to lower student aspirations. Nora and Rendon (1990) conclude that ‘‘encouragement by others’’ is the only major factor associated with transfer and commitment. In their findings, commitment includes academic and social integration. They conclude that students with high levels of academic and social integration are inclined to transfer, but high levels of commitment without academic and social integration do not increase the inclination to transfer. The research suggests clear differences between two- and four-year colleges in the measure of baccalaureate completion. The question remains as to whether the distinction is created by the community college or by other social forces that affect the completion rate.

External Environment Four-year residential colleges are relatively self-contained environments. Much has been made about the importance of social integration at the residential campus and the relative lack of importance at the community college, unless students are planning to transfer. The community college presents an environment where work, family, relationships with nonattending students, and visibility/availability of competing interests can exist at levels unmatched by any residential campus (Adelman, 1992; Bean, 1982; Vorhees, 1987). Compared to students at four-year residential campuses, community college students work more off-campus hours, have more family responsibilities, and have more modest financial resources (Baird, 1990). When the local economy improves, community college enrollment tends to fall because many students find employment more attractive than the alternative of remaining in school (Vorhees, 1987). Community college

African-American Engineering Student Persistence


students also spend less time interacting with other students and faculty outside of the classroom. As a result of these external forces, community college students are less influenced by college experiences to change their aspirations and goal commitments. Many of the theories on student attrition do not account for the external forces that affect student participation and persistence in college. Even some of Tinto’s later work shows some limitation on explaining the impact of external community forces. As a result, current theories of student retention are not particularly well suited to the study of non-residential institutions or the departure decisions of community college students (Mohamaddi, 1996). Freeman (2003) summarized nine examined factors and associated variables that potentially influence persistence at the community college. Those factors are presented in the conceptual framework in Fig. 1.

THE EMERSON MINORITY ENGINEERING SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM The Emerson Minority Engineering Scholarship Program is an example of an effective partnership designed to increase the number and success rate of students pursuing an engineering degree by starting at a community college. This cooperative program was established in 1988 by Emerson, a diversified global manufacturing and technology company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, in partnership with St. Louis Community College (STLCC) and Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly University of Missouri at Rolla). Emerson has provided eight scholarships annually for students to complete an associate’s degree at the community college. The Emerson scholarship covers the cost of tuition, books, and fees for up to six semesters. Students who achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.5 are eligible to transfer to Missouri S&T as juniors under a second scholarship program which covers the costs of tuition and fees for up to three years. To increase the number of underrepresented students in the engineering pipeline, high-school students could apply for the scholarship with a 2.5 GPA in mathematics and science classes and minimum ACT math and science scores of 18. With an average ACT of 20, most of the Emerson scholarship students starting at STLCC would not be accepted directly out of high school at Missouri S&T. Students must withdraw from the scholarship program if they switch from engineering, decide not to go to Missouri S&T, or if their GPA drops below 2.5.

Background Characteristics

Transitional Factors

Educational Aspirations College Degree Succeed Career Succeed Business Community Leadership Authority in Field

Institutional Commitment School Choice Satisfied With Climate Declared Major

Environmental Pull Outside Employment Married Have Children Financial Concerns Tuition Grants Loans Debt

Institutional Experiences

Academic Integration Faculty Interaction Advising Attendance Enrollment Status Remediation Group Study Lecture Frequency

Development & Performance

Academic and Intellectual Development

College GPA Satisfied with Intellectual Growth


Social Integration Peer Group Faculty Clubs

Outcome Decision


Longitudinal BPS Model (Conceptual Framework; Freeman, 2003).


Demographic Background Ethnicity Gender Age Income Parent’s Education Disability Dependency

Pre-College Skills & Achievement High School GPA Test Scores Diploma

Fig. 1.


African-American Engineering Student Persistence

Table 1.

Comparison of Emerson Minority Engineering Scholarship Program Graduation Rates.

Student Performance SLCC 1988–2005 Graduation Rate

Transfer to Missouri S&T

Transfer to Other Universities

Missouri S&T Graduation Rate

Male (121) Female (64) Total (185)

92.8% (64/69) 79.4% (27/34) 88.3% (91/103)

7.2% (5/69) 20.6% (7/34) 11.7% (12/103)

93.8% (60/64) 96.3% (26/27) 94.5% (86/91)

57.0% (69) 53.1% (34) 55.7% (103)

Since the program’s inception, 217 students have participated. From 1988 to 2005, 185 students participated and 103 (55.1%) graduated or successfully prepared for transfer to Missouri S&T within three years (see Table 1). Twelve students (11.7%) chose to transfer to other universities. Only four (2.2%) students timed out of the scholarship (took longer than three years). The remaining students switched majors from engineering, stopped out of school, or lost the scholarship for poor academic performance. Not continuing in this program is not an indicator that students were not successful overall in their academic pursuits. Of the students who transferred to Missouri S&T, 94.5% graduated. The graduation rate of the Emerson scholars after transfer is higher than the average graduation rate of STLCC students from Missouri S&T (80%) as well as other transfer students (75%). Of the 185 students participating from 1988 to 2005, 121 were male and 64 were female. For the male students, 57.0% graduated from STLCC. The graduation rate for those male students who transferred to Missouri S&T was 93.8%. For the female students, 53.1% graduated from STLCC and the graduation rate for those who transferred to Missouri S&T was 96.3%. There is little difference in the performance of male and female students with the exception of the transfer decision. The percentage of male students who transferred to Missouri S&T (92.8%) was much higher than percentage of female students (79.4%) who chose to do so. The program has experienced phenomenal success based on its on-going commitment to preparing the whole student for academic and career success through well-established best practices:  The students are recognized as Emerson scholars and no stigma is attached to the program or their participation.  The program coordinator is a counselor who meets regularly with the students and establishes high expectations for academic performance and



campus participation. New students meet with faculty, administrators, and current students as part of an orientation to the campus. This addresses any sense of isolation students may experience. The scholarship removes most of the financial obstacles associated with attending the College as long as students maintain their grades. Family obligations and transportation costs are still potential issues for students attending a commuter campus but those obstacles are more easily addressed because of the scholarship. Students participate in tutoring, supplemental instruction, study groups, academic advising, and instructional laboratories as necessary. Orientation introduces them to the resources and they are encouraged formally through counseling and informally through social networks. Social networks are diverse and not restricted to Emerson scholars or AfricanAmerican students. In addition to counseling and academic advising, the students have had faculty champions who spend time with the students in a variety of academic and social settings outside of the classroom. Research suggests that talking to faculty outside of class is particularly beneficial to retaining African-American male students. The faculty is encouraged to participate in instructional skills workshops to increase awareness and implementation of effective andragogical learning strategies. The students are encouraged to participate in the Student Government Association and Phi Theta Kappa Honor International Society. Emerson scholars have frequently been officers in each group. They have also been recognized by the administration of STLCC and the Student Government Association for their contributions to the campus. In the early 1990s, Emerson scholars were among the first community college students to receive engineering internships through INROADS, an organization that develops talented minority youth for leadership in business and industry. Students are encouraged to pursue internships and services are provided to facilitate that process. In 1998, Emerson scholars became the first community college to achieve chapter status in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). NSBE is the largest student-run organization in the country with over 20,000 members. This accomplishment expanded the academic and social network of the students. At least 10 students have attended each of the National Conventions since then. In addition, the Gateway Alumni chapter of NSBE meets and runs its pre-college program at STLCC. Emerson scholars as part of NSBE participate in outreach

African-American Engineering Student Persistence


and have the opportunity to work with established African-American engineers.  Emerson scholars are also encouraged to participate in community service projects through their association with student government, NSBE, and Phi Theta Kappa. Although academic success is the primary focus, it is critically important to develop a holistic approach to success.  Missouri University of Science and Technology provides a Transfer Assistance Program that makes transfer virtually seamless. Students are invited annually to Missouri S&T campus as part of a Diversity Showcase and transfer coordinators also visit STLCC annually. The social network established at STLCC also provides a familiar critical mass of students at Missouri S&T after transfer. Emerson scholars are also encouraged to pursue graduate degrees and develop career plans. Their presence on campus has a positive effect on those African-American engineering students who are not on scholarship. Their presence helps to attract new students and many of the scholars make presentations to high-school students about engineering as a major. The focus of these practices is to eliminate any sense of isolation, instill confidence, improve focus and study skills, and minimize external pull. Every attempt is made to provide relevant academic and social integration that encourages students to succeed. Part of the success of the program is also helping students to follow their career passion. Not every student withdrawn from the scholarship did so because of a deficit in performance. On any college campus growth is part of the experience and as students grow they will hopefully make better decisions about their career path. Sometimes losing a student to a better personal choice is also a successful outcome.

CONCLUSION Beyond pre-college background and preparation, students leave engineering and technology for various reasons. Many students are lost before entering the core of an engineering or technology program as a result of the isolation they experience. This early isolation from other engineering students combined with the attractiveness of less overwhelming majors can lead to early switching. Others may experience cultural or gender isolation as a result of the relatively low numbers of peers or role models in their particular demographic group. The failure of some students to achieve



academic and social integration also contributes to the loss of engineering students. Many students are discouraged by poor faculty pedagogy and some are overwhelmed by the pace and competitive nature of engineering and technology programs. Successful retention requires sincere commitment on the part of the institution to implement policies that will have a positive effect on persistence. This does not eliminate student responsibility for persistence, but it does raise the question of what institutions and departments are willing to do to retain students even when background characteristics of the students present a challenge. Institutions should develop matriculation activities designed to encourage and ease the transition to the college environment. Institutions might also consider activities that take place prior to application. These activities might include outreach, seminars, dual enrollment, bridge programs, articulation efforts, and electronic newsletters. Rather than recruiting, the purpose of these activities is to increase the comfort level and expectation of success that the student brings to campus. These activities also serve to build the expertise of the student. Orientation activities should be designed with the focus of increasing the social and academic integration of students. These activities should be designed to raise the awareness and skill level of students as they strive for success. They should also increase the sense of connection that students have with faculty, staff, and each other. Where possible, students should be connected to departments, role models, and other students with similar majors to help them minimize isolation and maintain the intensity of their interest. Student organizations should be encouraged and supported at an institutional level. These organizations present a strong source of support, encouragement, and continuity for students, and they should not be left to student initiative alone. There should be a particular focus on the needs that minorities may have for affinity-based organizations that can reinforce expertise and encourage success through mutual support. Tutoring, academic workshops, and supplemental instruction should be geared to providing on-going support for students. All too frequently, students who need these services do not take advantage of them even when they are available. These services should be more tightly woven into the academic experience. In addition to content, these services should address study skills and test taking in ways that change the culture of learning for these students. It is important to continually reinforce the informal network that exists on the campus. Faculty pedagogy should be continually addressed beyond minimal evaluation and assessment. If instruction continues to be a source of

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discouragement for students in engineering and technology, then the need for instructional skills workshops and activities cannot be ignored. Students change as society changes, and if the faculty fails to address their changing needs, retention will continue to be a problem. Faculty connection and encouragement is a source of persistence for many students and efforts should be made to facilitate that connection. The ability of students to cope with the sometimes overwhelming pace of the college experience should not be left solely to the student. Attitude, intention, commitment, and coping skills are just some of the elements of resilience that students need to develop. The institution should be focused on helping the whole student to achieve success rather than merely selecting the students who already have a strong foundation of success. Increasing the amount of financial aid available for students may not always be a viable option for an institution; however, when students are focused on success and committed to the institution, the potential negative impact of financial aid is somewhat mitigated. Retention is a continuous process of ‘‘closing the sale.’’ Zig Ziglar reinforces the notion that everybody sells and everything is selling. Just as selling is more successful when it is perceived as a win–win transaction, retention efforts are more likely to succeed when they are perceived as win– win propositions. It is not enough for institutions to list features and programs; they also have to sell the benefits of completing a degree program. Large expenditures on retention services may be helpful, but closing the deal means that faculty, advisors, administrators, and staff attend to the little things that foster the desire, trust, self-confidence, and resilience of the students attending the institution.

REFERENCES Adelman, C. (1992). The way we are: The community college as an American thermometer. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Adelman, C. (1999). Women and men of the engineering path: A model for analysis of undergraduate careers. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. American Association of Community Colleges. (2008). CC stats. Available at http://www2. Astin, A. W., Tsui, L., & Avalos, J. (1996). Degree attainment rates at American colleges and universities: Effects of race, gender, and institutional type. Los Angeles: University of California. Baird, L. (1990). Academic, personal, and situational factors in retention and community colleges. Research No. 90-1. A publication of the Office of Higher Education Research, College of Education, University of Kentucky.



Bean, J. P. (1982). Conceptual models of student attrition: How theory can help the institutional researcher. In: E. T. Pascarella (Ed.), New directions for institutional research: Studying student attrition (Vol. 36, pp. 17–28). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Besterfield-Sacre, M., Atman, C. J., & Shuman, L. J. (1997). Characteristics of freshman engineering students: Models for determining student attrition in engineering. Journal of Engineering Education, 86(2), 139–149. Blumner, H. N., & Richards, H. C. (1997). Study habits and academic achievement of engineering students. Journal of Engineering Education, 86(2), 125–132. Bonham, A. L., & Luckie, J. I. (1993). Taking a break in schooling: Why community college students stop out. Community College Journal of Research & Practice, 17(3), 257–270. Brainard, S. G., & Carlin, L. (1998). A six-year longitudinal study of undergraduate women in engineering and science. Journal of Engineering Education, 87(4), 369–375. Carter, D. F. (1999). College students’ degree aspirations: A theoretical model and literature review with a focus on African-American and Latino students. Bloomington: Indiana University. Cofer, J., & Somers, P. (2000). Within-year persistence of students at two-year colleges. Community College Journal of Research and Practice (24), 785–807. Cohen, A. M. (1995). Projecting the future of community colleges. ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges, Los Angeles, CA (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 388 351). Dougherty, K. J. (1992). Community colleges and baccalaureate attainment. Journal of Higher Education, 63(2), 188–222. Feldman, M. J. (1993). Factors associated with one-year retention in a community college. Research in Higher Education, 34(4), 503–512. Freeman, T. L. (2003). Theoretical model for studying year-to-year persistence of two-year college students by ethnicity using the beginning postsecondary students longitudinal study 1996–98. Dissertation Abstract International (UMI No. AAT 3094695). Grubb, W. N. (1991). The decline of community college transfer rates. Journal of Higher Education, 62(2), 194–217. Heckel, R. W. (1996). Engineering freshman enrollments: Critical and non-critical factors. Journal of Engineering Education, 85(1), 15–21. Hermond, D. (1995). Measuring the retention strategies of a minority engineering program: A service quality perspective. Journal of Engineering Education, 84(4), 395–400. Landis, R. B. (1995). Studying engineering: A road map to a rewarding career. Los Angeles: Discovery Press. LeBold, W. K., & Ward, S. K. (1988). Engineering retention: National and institutional perspectives. Paper presented at the 1988 ASEE Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. Lewallen, W. C. (1993). Early alert: A report on two pilot projects at Antelope Valley College. Lancaster, CA: Antelope Valley College. Mohamaddi, J. (1996). Exploring retention and attrition in a two-year public community college. VCCA Journal, 10(1), 39–50. Moller-Wong, C., & Eide, A. (1997). An engineering student retention study. Journal of Engineering Education, 86(1), 7–15. Morgan, S. L. (1996). Trends in Black-White differences in educational expectations: 1980– 1992. Sociology of Education, 69(October), 308–319. Mutter, P. (1992). Tinto’s theory of departure and community college student persistence. Journal of College Student Development, 33, 310–317.

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NACME National Symposium. (2008). Confronting the new American dilemma. White Plains, NY: National Action Council Minorities in Engineering, Inc. National Science Board. (2008). Science and engineering indicators 2008. Arlington, VA (NSB 08-01; NSB 08-01A). Noeth, R. J., Cruce, T., & Harmston, M. T. (2003). Maintaining a strong engineering workforce. ACT Policy Report. ACT, Inc., Iowa City, IA. Nora, A., Cabrera, A., Hagedorn, L. S., & Pascarella, E. (1996). Differential impacts of academic and social experiences on college-related behavioral outcomes across different ethnic and gender groups at four-year institutions. Research in Higher Education, 37(4), 427–449. Nora, A., & Rendon, L. I. (1990). Determinants of predisposition to transfer among community college students. Research in Higher Education, 31, 235–255. Padilla, R. V., Trevino, J., Gonzales, K., & Trevino, J. (1997). Developing local models of minority student success in college. Journal of College Student Development, 38(2), 125–135. Pascarella, E. T., Smart, J. C., & Ethington, C. A. (1986). Long-term persistence of two-year college students. Research in Higher Education, 24(1), 47–69. Reichert, M., & Absher, M. (1997). Taking another look at educating African American engineers: The importance of undergraduate retention. Journal of Engineering Education, 86(3), 241–253. Seymour, E., & Hewitt, N. M. (1997). Talking about leaving: Why undergraduates leave the sciences. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Somers, P., Cofer, J., Hall, M. M., & Vander Putten, J. (2000). The persistence of African American college students: How national data inform a Hopwood-proof retention strategy. In: S. Gregory (Ed.), The academic achievement of minority students: Perspectives, practices, and prescriptions (p. 519). New York: New York University Press. St. John, E. P. (1994). The influence of student aid on within-year persistence by traditional college-age students in 4-year colleges. Research in Higher Education, 35(4), 455–480. Stoecker, J., Pascarella, E. T., & Wolfle, L. M. (1988). Persistence in higher education: A 9-year test of a theoretical model. Journal of College Student Development, 29, 196–209. Takahira, S., Goodings, D. J., & Byrnes, J. P. (1998). Retention and performance of male and female engineering students: An examination of academic and environmental variables. Journal of Engineering Education, 87(3), 297–304. Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Tsapogas, J. (2004). The role of community colleges in the education of recent science and engineering graduates. NSF 04-315. Arlington, VA: NSF. Vorhees, R. A. (1987). Toward building models of community college persistence: A logic analysis. Research in Higher Education, 20(2), 115–129. Wolfle, L. M. (1985). Postsecondary educational attainment among Whites and Blacks. American Educational Research Journal, 22(4), 501–525.

ONE INITIATIVE AT A TIME: A LOOK AT EMERGING AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE PROGRAMS IN THE CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM Edward C. Bush, Lawson Bush, V and Don ‘‘Ajene’’ Wilcoxson OVERVIEW The authors draw upon the African proverb: ‘‘How Do You Eat an Elephant?’’ One Bite at a Time to couch emerging practices and programs connected to and within California community colleges that are specifically designed to counter historical and topical institutional neglect and exclusion one initiative at a time. To this end, we discuss the Umoja Community, Men of Ujima Manhood Development Program, and the African American Male Educational Network and Development (A2MEND) organization. The authors maintain that the study of Black men in general is in need of its own theoretical framework that can articulate their position and trajectory in the world drawing on and accounting for their pre- and post-enslavement experiences while capturing their spiritual, psychological, social, educational

Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 253–270 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006017




development and station. Thus, we first build upon critical race theory (CRT) and African-centered theory to construct an emergent conceptual approach that more accurately articulates the experiences of African American men in community colleges and that both explains the existence of the aforementioned independent educational programs and organizations and provides the framework to produce and maintain additional selfdetermined spaces. Beyond theory and research, however, the authors call community college educators to a personal accountability and action to create spaces, initiatives, programs, organizations, and institutions based on the conceptual framework outlined in this current chapter. The authors are well aware of the critical and perhaps more axiomatic points along the educational pipeline for African American males with respect to the challenges they face in attending and graduating from 4-year institutions. For example, there is the fourth grade slump, which describes the phenomenon where African American boys tend to be fully engaged in the schooling process and doing well academically up until the fourth grade; there, we find a significant drop off in engagement and academic performance (Chall & Jacobs, 2003; Kunjufu, 1985; Sweet & Snow, 2003). Also there is the Algebra course conundrum, which is increasingly a requirement in middle school and is known as the gatekeeper course in determining who gets funneled to a college preparatory tract in high school (Moses & Cobb, 2002). Last, there is the high school dropout/push-out rate that is consistently near 50% in most urban areas for African American boys (Berliner, Barrat, Fong, & Shirk, 2008; Orfield, 2004). Though a long way from a solution, each of these vital challenges along the educational trajectory of African American males have received some noteworthy attention from both scholars and practitioners. Notwithstanding the significance of the aforementioned challenges, we contend that a very important juncture of the pipeline – the position of African American men in community colleges – has been understudied and under theorized by scholars and overlooked and ignored by those educators, reformers, and policy makers working in and near the community college system. The data showing the disproportional number of African American men attending community colleges compared to other ethic and racial groups, particularly in California, and their underachievement (Foster, 2008) has been persistent and in plain view (California Postsecondary Education Commission of 2002, 2006). Chiefly because of racism and a lack of institutional accountability (Bush & Bush, 2004, 2005), this issue is likened by the authors to a large elephant in an infinitesimal room that no one appears to see or has the wherewithal to engage.

One Initiative at a Time


The situation facing African American males at any segment on the educational pipeline, in addition to a host of social challenges that they are confronted with, which have been well-documented in the body of literature since the mid-1980s (Akbar, 1991; Bush, 1999; Holland, 1991; Gibbs, 1984, 1988; Kunjufu, 1985, 2001; Madhubuti, 1991), may be best described as elephantine. In the face of such a daunting perspective, the authors draw upon the African proverb: ‘‘How Do You Eat an Elephant? One Bite at a Time’’ to couch emerging practices and programs connected to and within California community colleges that are specifically designed to counter institutional neglect one initiative at a time. To this end, the authors will discuss the following initiatives, programs, and organizations: the Umoja Community, Men of Ujima Manhood Development Program, and The A2MEND. However, we will first situate and frame their existence and approach conceptually and theoretically.

CONCEPTUAL APPROACH AND THEORETICAL UNDERPINNINGS Nora and Cabrera (1996) opined that upon review of extensive research, there were no theoretically based studies focusing on African American male community college students. On the surface their position speaks to the paucity of studies concerning African American men enrolled in community colleges (Hagedorn, Maxwell, & Hampton, 2001; Hood, 1990). However, we view their statement from a broader perspective and suggest that the study of Black men in general is in need of its own theoretical framework that can articulate their position and trajectory in the world drawing on and accounting for their pre- and post-enslavement experiences while capturing their spiritual, psychological, social, educational development and station. In light of this, like many studies concerning African American boys and men (Donnor, 2005; Duncan, 2002; Lynn, 2006; Singer, 2005; Stinson, 2008) we employ CRT but maintained that it is concomitantly necessary and insufficient. Thus, CRT and the forthcoming programs/initiatives/organizations to be discussed must be situated on a historical continuum and within an African-centered paradigm. CRT has its genesis in the legal scholarship and discourse (Bell, 1992; Delgado, 1995; Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller, & Thomas, 1995); though, we see the works of such scholars like Woodson (1933/1990) and Du Bois (1903/1969) as having great impact on its theoretical origins. In short,



critical race theorists posit that race and racism are entrenched in every aspect, apparatus, foundation, structure, and function of society mediating both individual and institutional consciousness, policy, and practice. Positioning research, programs, policy, and institutions from this perspective allows one to: (a) foreground race and racism in the curriculum; (b) challenge the traditional paradigms, methods, texts, and separate discourse on race, gender, and class by showing how these social constructs intersect to affect communities of color; (c) focus on the racialized and gendered experiences of communities of color; (d) offer a liberatory and transformative method when examining racial, gender, and class discrimination; and (e) use the trans-disciplinary knowledge and methodological base of ethnic studies, women’s studies, sociology, history, and the law to better understand the various forms of discrimination (Smith-Maddox & Solo´rzano, 2002, pp. 68–69). The under achievement of African American males in community colleges as well as the justification for creating specialized and targeted programs to address the situation can be explained from a CRT perspective. However, racism and oppressive conditions only provide a partial explanation for the existence of such programs, initiatives, and organizations. Conceptually, these educational efforts to be discussed in this current paper and others like them must be placed on a historical continuum of efforts that sought viable educational opportunities for African Americans since their enslavement in the United States. As early as 1790 Africans in America had created alternative and independent ways to school themselves creating initiatives, programs, organizations, schools, and institutions during a time when learning to read was a crime punishable by death (see Cornelius, 1991; Douglass, 1968). There were several reasons: lack of access to public schools, the threat of racism in the form of miseducation (i.e., CRT), and a belief that they were responsible for their own education (Anderson, 1988; Bush, 1997; Hoover, 1992; Woodson, 1933, 1990). Building on this independent schooling tradition and the Black Studies movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which was triggered on college campuses by the Black Power, Civil Rights, and Pan African movements (T’Shaka, 1989), there has been a recent emergence of public schools designed to focus on African American students: Africancentered public schools, African American immersion schools, and Black

One Initiative at a Time


male academies, learning communities, cohorts, and programs in both K-12 and higher educational settings. Currently, the predominate arguments in the body of literature used to explain the existence of such self-determined spaces and the African American zeal for education positions them as a quest for freedom (Anderson, 1988; Cecelski, 1994; Perry, 2003; Walker, 1996, 2000, 2001) and as a response to White cultural hegemony and racism (Bush, 2004; Mitchell, Bush, & Bush, 2002; T’Shaka, 1989). This critical race paradigm suggests that the existence of Black initiatives, programs, organizations, schools, and institutions in the America is dependent on oppression as the stimulus. We contend these explanations are plausible yet myopic. Bush, Bush, and Causey-Bush (2006) asserted that African people, though enslaved, arrived in the Americas with a highly sophisticated and welldeveloped disposition, philosophy, and practice with respect to education. They point to their establishment of universities, age-grade system, apprenticeships, secret societies, and rites-of-passages for over a period of 10,000 years (see Barashango, 1991; deGraft-Johnson, 1966; Frankfurter, 1998; Van Sertima, 1989; Williams, 1987) as evidence to support their contention of a continuity of African values concerning the importance of education and their propensity to construct and maintain independent educational institutions and spaces irrespective of racism, oppression, and enslavement. The third prong of the emerging conceptual approach is African-centered theory and practice that provides the foundation, focal point, and direction for the current educational movement in the California community colleges. African-centered theory (Asante, 1980/2003, 1990, 1991, 1993; Asante & Mazama, 2005; Mazama, 2001; Sefa Dei, 1994, 2006) is not a reactionary response to European hegemony. Instead, it positions Africans as subjects rather than as objects of European experiences by utilizing an Africancentered worldview. Organizations and individuals with an African-centered worldview, among other things, understand that what is spiritual is material and vice versa; everything is interrelated and interdependent, living in harmony with nature, the individual does not exist without a community including nature, spirit, and ancestors, and cooperation is valued over competition and control (Hilliard,1998; Jackson & Sears, 1992; Karenga, 1980). In summary, our conceptual approach is as follows: (a) mainstream educational institutions in the United States are inherently racist;



(b) the overrepresentation and pervasive school underachievement of African American men in Community College may be understood by using CRT; (c) independent educational movements and spaces located in community colleges are a continuation of a fight for freedom as well as an extension of educational and schooling practices and institutions that began over 10,000 years ago; and (d) programs, initiatives, and organizations focusing on African American males in the community college system should be constructed and maintained by employing an African-centered worldview and paradigm.

THE UMOJA COMMUNITY The Umoja Movement is a statewide grassroots organization in the state of California comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators. The Umoja Movement began in October 2006 at Diablo Valley College when concerned faculty members met to discuss how they can utilize their collective knowledge and experience in working with African American students to improve the academic success of African American students throughout the state. As result of this meeting, a statewide steering committee was formed, which set the groundwork for future Umoja conferences and activities. As of fall 2008 the Umoja Movement had 22 colleges/districts who are members of the Umoja Movement Consortium. The Umoja Movement is a groundbreaking organization in the California Community College System because it is the first organized statewide effort to address specifically the educational needs of African American students. What is also unique about the Umoja movement is that it is a self-empowered organization that is not beholden to any particular institution. The Umoja Movement operates under the courageous premise ‘‘that we don’t need to ask permission to do what is best for African students.’’ The mission of the Umoja moment is the following: Umoja, (a Kiswahili word meaning unity) is a community and critical resource dedicated to enhancing the cultural and educational experiences of African American and other students. We believe that when the voices and histories of students are deliberately and intentionally recognized, the opportunity for self-efficacy emerges and a foundation is formed for academic success. Umoja actively serves and promotes student success for all students through a curriculum and pedagogy responsive to the legacy of the African and African American Diasporas. (Umoja Community, 2007, p. 1)

While the Umoja movement is not solely focused on the academic success of African American males, their mission, programs, and services have a

One Initiative at a Time


direct implication of the success of all African American students, particularly African American males. The Umoja Movement as elucidated in their mission looks at the education of the African American students holistically and seeks to address not only students individually, but also engages the institutions itself by examining systemic barriers that exist within the college. Toward this end, the Umoja Movement examined the best practices that existed in the California Community system in educating African American students and synthesized this information to create a model program that can be replicated by colleges who are interested in targeting the success of African American students. The Umoja Movement model consists of four components, which are: Instructional Component:      

Learning Community/Learning Cohorts College Guidance Courses English Reading and Writing Courses Mathematics Courses Library Information Literacy Courses African/African American-Centered Courses Support Services Component:


Matriculation Financial Aid/Scholarships Academic Support Cultural Activities Mentoring Counseling Services Workshops Incentives Student Club/Organization Organizational Component:


Mission Statement Organizing Principles Promising Practices Core Beliefs, Values, Habits of Mind Educational Philosophy Pedagogical Practices Outreach/Recruitment Strategies Training – annual cycle




Funding Strategies Educational Resource Management Strategy Steering Committee (Council of Elders) (statewide and local) Advisory Board (statewide and local) Mentor Council (statewide and local) Transfer Agreements with Historically Black CUs, CSUs, and UCs Central Office with Director and staff Umoja Day – student leadership conference Administrative Component:


Budget (based on formulas) Staffing (based on formulas) Coordination Duties Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with participating college Inquiry Model Research Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) and Assessment Cost per Full Time Equivalent Student (FTES) Mentor Guidelines

The Umoja Moment is guided by a profound philosophy that encapsulates the level of commitment to culture, education, and care that is paramount to any program designed to improve the academic and social success of African American male students. The following educational philosophy of the Umoja Moment can serve as the foundation for future organizations desiring to engage African American male students in higher education. Umoja is a community of educators and learners committed to the academic success, personal growth, and self-actualization of African American and other students. The Umoja Community seeks to educate the whole student – body, mind, and spirit. Informed by an ethic of love and its vital power, the Umoja Community will deliberately engage students as full participants in the construction of knowledge and critical thought. The Umoja Community seeks to help students experience themselves as valuable and worthy of an education. The Umoja Community gains meaning through its connection to Africa Diaspora. African and African American cultural and spiritual gifts inform Umoja Community values and practices. The Umoja Community seeks to nurture knowledge of and pride in this reality. The learning experience within the Umoja Community will provide each individual the opportunity to add their voice and their story to the collective voices and stories of the African Diaspora.


One Initiative at a Time

African American students are integrally and inextricably connected to global struggles for liberation throughout the African Diaspora. In light of this, the Umoja Community views education as a libratory act designed to empower all students to critique, engage, and transform deleterious social and institutional practices locally and globally. The Umoja Community will practice and foster civic engagement so that all its participants integrate learning and service. Likewise, the Umoja Community will instill in our students the knowledge and skills necessary to enable them to make positive differences in their lives and the lives of others (Umoja Community, 2007, p. 2).

MEN OF UJIMA MANHOOD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM The Men of Ujima Manhood Development Program, on the campus of Riverside City College, was birthed as a result of the observed struggles, which threatened the success of the African American young men. The consequences of the previously discussed issues surrounding race, racism, and CRT manifested itself within the young men affecting their: (a) grades and retention; (b) belief in the possibility of success due to an academic environment that lacked congeniality; (c) identification with their culture (cultural confusion); and (d) self-concept. These conditions cause a calcification of the spirit within the young men on campus in many African peoples in general. The Men of Ujima Manhood Development Program began as a result of this observation. Program Overview The Men of Ujima (MOU) Manhood Development Program serves the purpose of preparing African American young men for leadership and success. Success is defined by the student and involves specific areas: spiritual development, mental capacity, cultural awareness, physical prowess, and academics. Spiritual development is recognition of the power of the Creator, ancestors, and how one can utilize these powers and abilities to develop habits that impact their daily lives. Mental capacity includes knowledge of African history, knowledge of self, and knowledge of the other young men involved in MOU. Cultural awareness connects the student to culturally based community organizations and leadership. Physical prowess unfolds in



the form of endurance, tolerance, and understanding the importance of the mind, body, soul connection. Last, as the young men develop in the other areas of the program, distractions decrease that allows them to focus academics. The African tradition of passage into manhood serves as the framework in which initiation into MOU is based. However, passage into this fraternity of brotherhood and manhood does not automatically happen as a result of a young man simply entering the program. All candidates are expected to adhere to a new way of living which includes being accountable to elders and to the other young men in the program, exercise, letting go of vices, and regular communication. The participants are not given just one mentor to interact with on a monthly basis; rather, they are mentored by the entire council of elders. This creates a dynamic and awareness of entering into a bond, which has proven extremely successful in connecting at a deeper level with the young men. The MOU participants have made the following comments: I have never been around a group of men of this caliber. It’s motivating! It’s unbelievable that I can pick up the phone and just call an elder to talk. This connection to older, more mature men, has given me something I have never had.

In addition to the regular meetings, BBQ’s and other activities, MOU candidates are required to read Dr. Chancellor Williams’ book entitled The Destruction of Black Civilization, and Dr. Na’im Akbar’s two books entitled, Visions of Black Manhood and Know Thyself. These books were selected to raise the cultural, political, and historical consciousness of the young men by challenging their concept of what it means to Black, male, and a student. The required reading of the texts also measures their commitment to the program and to fellow participants. Another critical component of the program only materialized after the sessions started. We preface the disclosure with a reminder of the vast mission and function of the community college as an open enrollment intuition, which does not exclude on the basis of high school preparation, test scores, and in many cases, criminal record. Any random sampling of the student body of community colleges may reveal a significant number of students with involvement with the justice system. With this in mind, all community colleges must look seriously at creating a branch or office of legal services on their campuses that works to expunge records or reduce felonies to misdemeanors. Many African American juveniles who are accused of committing offenses are given public defenders and they are encouraged to take plea


One Initiative at a Time

deals in place of jail time not realizing the impact it may have on their career aspirations. Statistics suggest that one in four young African American males has some involvement with the juvenile justice system. This phenomenon, though it can be explained by our theoretical framework as a natural byproduct of systematic racism, has to be addressed. Thus, the access to legal services is now available to participants in the program. The Campus Environment To accomplish the goal of preparing young men for leadership and success there needed to be a place on campus where the young men could be themselves while also providing the academic services that they may require. The campus was open to this idea and allowed the program to move into an oversized classroom, which was converted into a study/living room for the students. This has allowed the program to better serve the educational needs of the students including financial aid, academic support, and professional and career development. Although this is a new program, it has touched the lives of many young men. Individuals who entered the institution without direction are now preparing to transfer into Historical Black Colleges and Universities. Bonds have become so knitted that program participates have become not only good friends but family. The young men who are about to graduate have insisted on the formation of an MOU Alumnus so they can help other young men in their transition into manhood.

THE AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE EDUCATIONAL NETWORK AND DEVELOPMENT The A2MEND organization is comprised of African American male administrators who utilize their scholarly and professional expertise to foster institutional change within the community college system. This organization aims to create an affirming academic and professional environment for African Americans with a particular focus on African American male students, faculty, staff, and administrators. The organization’s vision is to promote research and discovery in the area of African American male academic achievement in the community colleges. The overarching goal of the A2MEND organization is to improve the academic and professional success of African American males in the community system by working to create systemic change.



The premise of ‘‘changing institutions’’ and ‘‘touching students’’ serve as the philosophical underpinning that guides the organization. A2MEND members believe that in order to improve the academic success of African American males within the community colleges that institutions must be held accountable. Institutions have the responsibility to examine their policies and practices that have an adverse impact on the success of African American males. A2MEND engages institutional stakeholders to examine these adverse practices and policies and also seeks to build capacity within these institutions to create policies and programs that are conducive to the success of African American male students. It has been our experience as community college educators that many programs have not been successful in improving the overall success rate of African American students because the aim of many of these programs has been squarely focused on providing direct services to students; thusly ignoring the institutional deficiencies that created the problem. As stated in the aforementioned paragraph, A2MEND’s approach is guided by the philosophy of changing institutions and touching students. While the organizational members clearly understand the primacy of institutional change it further recognized the need to touch students directly in order to build resiliency; thusly, arming students with the information needed navigate a system not designed for their success. With this mind, A2MEND created several programs that are intended to touch African American male students in the community colleges.

Student Mentor Program Overview It is a requirement for all members of A2MEND to mentor at least two African American male students at their respective colleges. As of fall 2008, there were 30 African American male students in 15 different community colleges in the mentor program. The mentor program started in Spring 2008 and the number of student mentors will increase in relation to the growth of A2MEND membership. A2MEND leadership anticipates a 100% increase in the number of mentees served in the program for each year over the next 5 years. A2MEND Mentor Program provides support, guidance, professional development, and networking opportunities to its mentees. A2MEND mentees are assigned to an administrator who has demonstrated expertise, leadership, and scholarship within the California Community College system, and are committed to the personal development, professional growth, and academic success of African American males.

One Initiative at a Time


Goals and objectives of the A2MEND Mentor Program are to:  Support the professional and educational development of African American students within the California Community College system  Create and maintain positive, professional relationships to increase the retention and persistence of African American male administrators and students in community colleges  Establish a resource and referral network between and among mentors and mentees within the program Responsibility of A2MEND Student Mentees:    

Make a 2-year commitment as Student mentees Meet with mentors at least three times per term Successfully complete academic progress reports Actively participate in the A2MEND Mentor Program by communicating regularly with mentor, attend all programs/activities, and successfully fulfill program requirements. Responsibility of A2MEND Mentors:

 Student mentees must be currently enrolled in credit courses at a California Community College  Student mentees are assigned to a mentor from their institution  Encourages face-to-face mentor/mentee meetings at least three times per term  Requires that mentees complete an academic progress report at least twice a semester to enhance their mentorship experience and ensures that the program effectively assists students in making academic progress toward their educational goals  Provides mentees with a student and professional network for supporting their educational experience in achieving their academic and career goals  Offers leadership and educational training for mentees to further enhance their academic success, career exploration, and personal development  Participation in this program is FREE (no cost) A2MEND Student Mentee Receives:  Someone who can assist you with clarifying your professional and educational goals



 Someone who can help you develop personal and academic skills that lead to your professional and educational success  The Development of a meaningful relationship with a community college administrator  Confidence knowing that there is someone who is committed to your professional and educational achievement and success

A2MEND African American Male Summit In March 2008, A2MEND hosted its first annual African American male summit, which was a conference designed to bring together a cross section of community college stakeholders to discuss the implementation of strategies to increase the academic and social success of African American male students. What was particularly innovative about the African American male summit that differed from other professional educational conference was the incorporation of African American male community college students as full participants in the conference. There were a total of 350 people who attended the conference with approximately half of the attendees being African American male students. The conscious decision of A2MEND to engage African American male students in this type of setting was critical for the students because it allowed them to tell their stories and experiences in their own voice. The conference allowed the men to view themselves as vested in their own educational success and allowed them to interact with peers who were also committed to educational success. African American male students attending the conference participated in workshops that talked about the continued excellence of African people throughout the ages and they were able to discuss the current perceptions of African American males held by society and how they view themselves. The students also had a forum to talk to institutional stakeholders concerning the barriers they face in trying to navigate the community system and offered solutions on how to remove these barriers. Last, students interacted with African American male administrators, faculty, and staff members. There was one unscripted event worth recalling that crystallizes the importance of the conference. There was a group of African American male professionals just standing around during a break. They noticed a student standing in front of them reading their name tags, but not saying a word. The men quickly engaged the student when they noticed his stare and asked him what is going on is everything okay? The student replied ‘‘I am just


One Initiative at a Time

standing here because I am amazed.’’ The student said he was amazed because he had never been around Black men with doctorates and around so many Black men that were about something. While the student mentor program is designed to build an on-going relationship with the African American students the annual African American Male Summit is a critical program component of A2MEND services for students for nothing more than allowing students the chance to see what is possible.

CONCLUSION: A CALL TO ACTION Though there is a paucity of studies concerning African American men in community colleges, most educators, albeit in various degrees, are aware of the challenges African American males face at points on the educational pipeline. Therefore, the underachievement and disenfranchisement of African American males at this juncture should not be a surprise to anyone particularly those who are concerned with equity and justice. However, while more research in this area is paramount, sometimes educators become paralyzed by or numb to the elephant-sized and pejorative statistics facing African American boys and men and the system that perpetuates their underachievement. Therefore beyond research, we call community college educators to a personal accountability and action to create spaces, initiatives, programs, organizations, and institutions based on the conceptual framework outlined in this current chapter keeping in mind that the initiative, program, and organization presented here were unsanctioned and grassroots efforts carved out despite institutional support.

REFERENCES Akbar, N. (1991). Visions for Black men. Tallahassee, FL: Mind Productions and Associates. Anderson, J. (1988). The education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. Asante, M. K. (1980/2003). Afrocentricity: The theory of social change. Chicago, IL: African American Images. Asante, M. K. (1990). Kemet, Afrocentricity and knowledge. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. Asante, M. K. (1991). The Afrocentric idea in education. Journal of Negro Education, 60(2), 170–180. Asante, M. K. (1993). The Afrocentric idea. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Asante, M. K., & Mazama, A. (Eds). (2005). Encyclopedia of Black studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.



Barashango, I. (1991). Afrikan genesis: Amazing stories of man’s beginnings. Silver Spring, MD: Fourth Dynasty Publishing Company. Bell, R. (1992). Faces at the bottom of the well: The permanence of racism. New York: Basic Books. Berliner, B., Barrat, V., Fong, A., & Shirk, P. (2008). Reenrollment of high school dropouts in a large, urban school district. Issues & Answers, (REL 2008), No. 056. Regional Educational Laboratory West. Bush, E., & Bush, L. (2004). Beware of false promises. Community College Journal, 74(5), 36–39. Bush, E., & Bush, L. (2005). Black male achievement and the community college. Black Issues in Higher Education, 22(2), p. 44. Bush, L. (1997). Independent Black institutions in America: A rejection of schooling, an opportunity for education?. Urban Education, 32(1), 98–116. Bush, L. (1999). Can Black mothers raise our sons? Chicago: African American Images. Bush, L. (2004). Access, school choice, and independent Black institutions: A historical perspective. Journal of Black Studies, 34, 386–401. Bush, L., Bush, E., & Causey-Bush, T. (2006). The collective unconscious: New thoughts on the existence of independent Black institutions. The Journal of Pan African Studies, 1(6), 48–66. Retrieved from vol1no6.pdf California Postsecondary Education Commission. (2002). California Postsecondary Education Commission. Available at: California Postsecondary Education Commission. (2006). California Postsecondary Education Commission. Available at: Cecelski, D. (1994). Along freedom road: Hyde County, North Carolina and the fate of Black schools in the South. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina. Chall, J., & Jacobs, V. (2003). The classic study on poor children’s fourth grade reading slump. American Educator, 27(1), 14–15. Cornelius, J. (1991). When I can read my title clear: Literacy, slavery, and religion in the antebellum South. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina. Crenshaw, K. W., Gotanda, N., Peller, G., & Thomas, K. (1995). Critical race theory: The key writings that formed the movement. New York: New Press. deGraft-Johnson, J. C. (1966). African glory; the story of vanished Negro civilizations. New York: Walker. Delgado, R. (1995). Critical race theory: The cutting edge. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Donnor, J. (2005). Towards an interest-convergence in the education of African-American football student athletes in major college sports. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 45–67. Douglass, F. (1968). The narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass: An American slave. New York: Signet. Du Bois, W. E. B. (1903/1969). The souls of Black folk. Chicago: A.C. McClurg. Duncan, G. (2002). Beyond love: A critical race ethnography of the schooling of adolescent Black males. Equity & Excellence in Education, 35(2), 131–143. Foster, D. (2008). Student engagement experiences of African American males at a California community college. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Southern California: Los Angeles, CA.

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Frankfurter, D. (1998). Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and resistance. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Gibbs, J. (1984). Black adolescents and youth: An endangered species. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 54, 8–20. Gibbs, J. (1988). Young Black males in America: Endangered embittered, and embattled. In: J. Gbbs (Ed.), Young, Black and male in America: An endangered species (pp. 1–36). Dover, MA: Auburn House Publishing Co. Hagedorn, L. S., Maxwell, W., & Hampton, P. (2001). Correlates of retention for AfricanAmerican males in community colleges. Journal of College Student Retention, 3(3), 243–263. Hilliard, A. G. (1998). Sba the reawakening of the African mind. Gainsville, FL: Makare Publishing. Holland, S. (1991). Positive role models for primary-grade Black inner-city males. Equity and Excellence, 25, 40–44. Hood, D. W. (1990). Academic and noncognitive factors affecting the retention of Black men at predominantly White university. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, Boston, MA. Hoover, M. (1992). The Nairobi Day School: An African American independent school, 1966–1984. Journal of Negro Education, 61(2), 201–210. Jackson, A., & Sears, S. (1992). Implications of an Africentric worldview in reducing stress for African American women. Journal of Counseling Development, 61, 184–191. Karenga, M. (1980). Kawaida theory: An introductory outline. Inglewood, CA: Kawaida Publications. Kunjufu, J. (1985). Countering the conspiracy to destroy Black boys. Chicago: African American Images. Kunjufu, J. (2001). State of emergency: We must save African American males. Chicago: African American Images. Lynn, M. (2006). Race, culture, and the education of African Americans. Educational Theory, 56(1), 107–119. Madhubuti, H. (1991). Black men, obsolete, single, dangerous?: The Afrikan American family in transition. Chicago: Third World Press. Mazama, A. (2001). The Afrocentric paradigm: Contours and definitions. Journal of Black Studies, 31(4), 387–405. Mitchell, K., Bush, E., & Bush, L. (2002). Standing in the gap: A model for establishing African American male intervention programs within public schools. Educational Horizons, 80(3), 140–146. Moses, R., & Cobb, C. (2002). Radical equations: Civil rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Nora, A., & Cabrera, A. (1996). The role of perceptions of prejudice and discrimination on the adjustment of Minority students to college. Journal of Higher Education, 67(2), 119–148. Orfield, G. (Ed.) (2004). Dropouts in America: Confronting the graduation rate crisis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Perry, T. (2003). Up from parched earth: Toward a theory of African American achievement Boston. In: T. Perry, C. Steele & A. Hilliard (Eds), Young gifted and Black: Promoting high achievement among African-American students (pp. 1–87). Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Sefa Dei, G. (1994). Afrocentricity: A cornerstone of pedagogy. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 25(1), 3–28.



Sefa Dei, G. (2006). Black-focused schools: A call for re-visioning. Education Canada, 46(3), 27–31. Singer, J. (2005). Understanding racism through the eyes of African American male studentathletes. Race, Ethnicity & Education, 8(4), 365–386. Smith-Maddox, R., & Solo´rzano, D. (2002). Using critical race theory, Paulo Freire’s problem posing method, and case study research to confront race and racism in education. Qualitative Inquiry, 8(1), 66–84. Stinson, D. (2008). Negotiating sociocultural discourses: The counter story telling of academically (and mathematically) successful African American male students. American Educational Research Journal, 45(4), 975–1010. Sweet, A. P., & Snow, C. E. (Eds). (2003). Rethinking reading comprehension. New York: Guilford Press. T’Shaka, O. (1989). The art of leadership (Vol. 1). Richmond, CA: Pan African Publications. Umoja Community. (2007). Umoja movement executive summary. Sacramento, CA: The Foundation for California Community Colleges. Van Sertima, I. (Ed.) (1989). Egypt revisited: Journal of African civilizations (2nd edn.). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. Walker, V. (1996). Their highest potential: An African American school community in the segregated South. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Press. Walker, V. (2000). Valued segregated schools for African American children in the South, 1935–1969: A review of common themes and characteristics. Review of Educational Research, 70(3), 253–285. Walker, V. (2001). African American Teaching in the South: 1940–1960. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 751–779. Williams, C. (1987). The destruction of Black civilization. Chicago: Third Word Press. Woodson, C. G. (1933/1990). The miseducation of the Negro. Washington, DC: African World Press.

POWER OF MENTORING AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES IN COMMUNITY COLLEGES Kenneth Ray Jr., Sylvia Marion Carley and Derrick Brown ABSTRACT Community college African American male student enrollment and academic success is diminishing. The authors explore the importance and wisdom of mentoring programs for African American males attending community colleges. The chapter considers issues of student persistence and retention and how they relate to effective community college mentoring programs. Specifically, the authors discuss how community college mentoring programs can counteract inherent obstacles for African American students attending commuter style campuses. A description of how some community colleges successfully engage African American male students in order to achieve Kuh’s four attributes of a supportive college environment and to overcome the issues of college departure – being firstgeneration college students, lacking academic self-concept, no or minimal institutional engagement with students, and no or minimal student involvement student involvement on campus – is provided. The authors highlight successful community college programs which include the national ‘‘Students African American Brotherhood’’ program, Santa Fe Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 6, 271–297 Copyright r 2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3644/doi:10.1108/S1479-3644(2009)0000006018




College’s ‘‘My Brother’s Keeper,’’ the North Carolina Community College System, and Hillsborough Community College’s Collegiate 100.

INTRODUCTION ‘‘If it was not for Bruce, I’d be out of here!’’ Many times in college, I and other African American male peers uttered this sentiment. Bruce, the Associate Dean of Students at my alma mater, was the only African American administrator at this small predominately White college. Bruce was mentor to many African American students attending my college and he did not coddle or spoil us. Using the campus as his classroom, he taught us how to live, love, and thrive in a world often overtly or covertly hostile to African American males. Bruce kept graduation our goal, good character our objective, and life success our purpose. Whenever Black alums meet, we never fail to mention Bruce because throughout our time at the institution, he was somewhere in the midst of our success, failure, confusion, and enlightenment. He made all of us belong there. Today, African American males are increasingly absent from higher education. Despite well-meaning attempts to recruit and retain African American male students, their presence and success in higher education remain proportionately less than White and Hispanic male counterparts. In an interview, Michael Cuyjet, editor of African-American Men in College (2006), stated the two most significant factors hindering enrollment in the first place could be characterized as underpreparedness and cultural disincentives. According to Cuyjet (2006), ‘‘under-preparedness relates to the fact that many African American boys are provided with less-than adequate academic preparation due to poor school environments and discriminatory practices such as being tracked into behavior disorder classes in inordinately high proportion to their numbers in the school population’’ (Jaschik, 2006, Inside Higher Ed, para 4). He further purports compounding this broad lack of attention to their academic success, ‘‘many African American young men through a process which is entitled cultural disincentives fail to consider academic achievement a worthwhile goal and in fact, often consider college education and even high school graduation as not worth the effort or not ‘‘cool’’ among their peers’’ (Jaschik, 2006, Inside Higher Ed, para 4). Therefore, there are multiple factors that may contribute to the paucity of African American males in higher education. As a whole, community

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colleges have decreased the void of African American males in higher education by comparison to their White counterparts. Approximately 37% of the African American students attending community colleges are male. African American men tend to persist and graduate at lower rates than African American females as well as Hispanics, Whites, and other ethnic groups. Between 1977 and 1997, graduation of female African American students was two to four times greater than of African American male students (Clery, 2008). This is a serious commentary for our time in history that requires significant action to counter the future effects of this current reality. Another compounding issue with regard to African American males’ degree completion is the fact that many African American males are first-generation college students, meaning they are the first members of their family to attend college. This gives rise to another challenge because there usually is no one readily available to provide assistance to help these students navigate the often-obtrusive environment of the college campus. College matriculation processes, campus culture, and academic expectations learned typically through trial and error often leave students frustrated, confused, and disenchanted with college life. Not having family with college experience can prolong the college transition or adjustment period. Typically, many community college first-generation students, especially African American males who underachieved academically in high school, have college placement score results that are below the admission standard. Mitchell (1997) asserts that the combination of low high school academic performance, potential of minimal family support, and doubts about belonging in college makes the environment academically and personally challenging for African American males. Therefore, the obstacles of poor academic preparation, lack of knowledge, and minimal parental assistance accentuate the difficulties for African American men attending community colleges. All of these factors contribute to the lack of success of many African American males in college. Several strategies have been suggested to decrease the lack of academic success African American males are experiencing in higher education institutions. Mentoring in community colleges holds the promise of meeting these requirements. In this respect, mentoring programs in community college can be valuable components of the campus and college community. Traditionally, one-on-one mentoring, as well as group or network mentoring, provides both students and mentors the flexibility to experience the full range of internal and external communities.



Despite the challenges and obstacles, African American first-generation students believe, as other first-generation college students believe, that college is important (Pratt & Skagg, 1989). The following sections will provide a brief historical overview of community colleges, theoretical foundations associated with mentoring, and an overview of some successful community college mentoring programs. Additionally, this chapter will discuss the relevance of Hillsborough Community College’s (HCC’s) Collegiate 100 (C-100) program and hypothesize why the program components can contribute to a community college mentoring program for African American men.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES Nothing is more American than two-year community colleges; at one point in time, the institutions were known as junior colleges. Community colleges became a permanent part of the United States educational plan after WWII. As the country sought to prepare for a post-WWII workforce, President Truman’s Commission on Higher Education established a new system of colleges that would offer opportunities for more people than were being served by the traditional land grant colleges and universities. In doing so, access to college was extended to many more people. ‘‘Community Colleges express a distinctly American and democratic impulse’’ (Mellow & Heelan, 2008, p. 3). The concept of the open admission policy that grants access to all students with a high school diploma has made college and upward mobility possible for many people who would have before been locked out of the opportunity for a college degree. Moreover, since the inception and implementation of community colleges’ ‘‘open door’’ access policy, countless families’ futures have changed. Specifically, as a result of the increased access to higher education, individuals who earn an associate of arts degree have higher wage earnings over their employment history when compared to those with just a high school diploma. The ‘‘open door’’ access also afforded those with general equivalency diplomas (GED) an opportunity to access higher education. Ultimately, the ‘‘open door’’ has afforded the underprepared and underachiever an opportunity to better prepare for the postsecondary journey. In addition to offering associate of arts degrees designed for transfer to four-year colleges and universities, community colleges offer vocational (associate in science, associate in applied science) degrees with the intent of

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preparing students for immediate placement in industry, allied health fields, business, and public safety. Since the inception of the Truman Commission, the growth of community colleges drastically increased. Mellow and Heelan (2008) report that ‘‘at one point in the early 1970s, a community college was opening somewhere in the United States every month’’ (p. 6). For instance, in Florida, there is a community college campus or center within 30 miles of approximately every Florida resident. Additionally, in Florida, 28 community colleges extend as far south as Key West, as far north as Jacksonville, and as far west as Pensacola. In the United States, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a county without a community college presence (Mellow & Heelan, 2008). ‘‘The impetus was to create a national system for this new kind of college, one that would be local, non-residential, and aimed at individuals who in time past would have been able to successfully support a family if they had just finished high school. The new college would be a college of and for its community’’ (Mellow & Heelan, 2008, p. 6). The impact of the Truman Commission’s work and community college’s effect on the United States is demonstrated in the number of students enrolled in community colleges. The American Association of Community Colleges (2006) reports currently just under half of all undergraduates in the United States attend community colleges. The data further indicate that 50% of all African American and Latino students attending college in the United States are in the community college system. Community college students represent 46% of all undergraduates in the United States. Of the approximately 12 million community college students in the United States, 35% are minority students; 550,000 students attending community colleges are African American of which 214,500 are first-generation college students. In essence, a marked number of the students are the first in their families to attend a postsecondary institution. Typically community colleges are more culturally and socioeconomically diverse than most four-year educational institutions. Minority students have lower graduation rates when compared to the non-minority counterparts. As previously mentioned, there are multiple factors such as socioeconomic status, inadequate college preparation, and an environment that does not provide the needed nurturance to minority students that contribute to the lack of positive academic outcomes for minority students (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Although historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) graduate fewer students mainly because their student bodies are proportionately smaller HBCUs produce more African American graduates than majority institutions (United States Department of Education Office of



Civil Rights, 1991). However, it should be noted that because community colleges are the main access point to higher education for African Americans, Latinos, academically underprepared students, and economically disadvantaged students, the responsibility to help students learn and achieve success in life is paramount. Furthermore, nowhere is it more appropriate to step in to help these students than in the community college system because a preponderance of minority students makes up the student body. Therefore, the staff, faculty, and administrations in the community college system must begin a serious dialog that results in an effective sustainable and measurable plan of action. If not, we will continue to accelerate the rapid loss of African American males and lose the opportunity to educate the present and future leaders of America.

Student Persistence and Retention Student persistence and graduation rates are critical factors of accountability for higher education. Therefore, student persistence and retention are common topics of student affairs researchers and an eternal quest of collegiate educators and administrators. In this chapter, it is purported that student persistence consists of multiple elements, and a combination of these elements contributes to the high attrition rates evident among community college students; especially minority students. As there are factors that contribute to students’ underachievement in higher education similar factors also contribute to the attrition rates evidenced by male African American community college students. This mandates a new and diverse social milieu that demands a different type of maneuvering when compared to other social settings and economic demands connected to support of families and maintenance of ‘‘things’’ that college students feel that they must have. In his book Leaving College, Tinto (1993) indicates that minority student departure from college usually reflects issues related to social contact (peers, faculty, staff ), congruence (fit with the college setting), and academic performance. Although student attrition is common for all racial/ethnic group members, Tinto further suggests that academic underpreparedness is both a significant contributing factor and the predominant reason for the high attrition rate of African American students. However, because many African Americans are first-generation students, social difficulties must be considered as contributors to poor academic performance. Mentoring provides an avenue to deal with social difficulties so that academic

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challenges can be met and overcome. More specifically, mentoring can help students develop their academic self-worth. Furthermore, it is proposed in the literature that student perceptions relate to and affect their academic performance. Eddins (1982) suggests that there is a relationship between Black students’ academic performance and their academic self-concepts or self-appraisals. Academic self-concept is basically a student’s belief that they belong in college and have the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities to perform at an adequate level to meet the expectations of faculty and others in the institution. Black students who are underprepared but might have the academic skills to be successful can actually learn to apply those skills in an environment seemingly foreign and even hostile toward them (Tracey & Sedlacek, 1987). Invariably, you have some students who are concerned about their academic prowess. Consequently, the student’s negative self-appraisal has a diminishing effect on their academic performance. A positive self-appraisal, in some cases, allow students to continue their education until their belief becomes a reality. Fleming (1985) and Martin (1990) suggest that African American students’ academic performance at predominately White institutions reflects their experiences in the classroom, access to effective and supportive student-centered services (i.e., counseling and advising, mentor/mentee relationships, formal faculty administrative out of class relationships, etc.), and supportive relationships that they are able to form with their professors and peers. This is an obvious indication that students need the support from others in the college environment to be successful; although Fleming and Martin’s focus was on African American students, it holds true for all students. However, for African American men attending predominately White colleges, the lack of tangible support can and does affect their level of success at the postsecondary level. Martin (1990) highlights the need for support by suggesting that African American students are more likely to academically succeed when they believe there is support for their efforts and equity in assessing their work. The perception of support and equity in assessing assignments is a plausible reason for the higher proportionality of African American graduates from HBCUs with lesser enrollments. Additional information on this finding is presented later in this chapter. This holistic view supports the premise that an academic climate characterized by an effective student support service system, mentor/mentee relationships, and formal student associations tends to contribute to positive academic outcomes for African American students, especially African American males. This ideal supportive environment is usually realized at



HBCUs. Although student enrollment at HBCUs represents only 4% of the higher education institutions in the United States, the percentage of minority graduates is greater than that of non-HBCU institutions (United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, 1991). This is a clear indication that institutional support and campus climate matter. Minority retention mirrors the academic climate in which minority students find themselves as much as it does their academic abilities (Martin, 1990). African American students (especially males) who find themselves in an academically discouraging or discriminating climate often experience failure and eventual departure. Student involvement outside the classroom is another essential part of college life that creates some challenge for community college staff, faculty, and students. Tinto (1993) found that the effectiveness of styles or types of out of classroom activities and/or relationships are different for many Black students than they are for their majority counterparts. African American students are more inclined to be involved and influenced by more formal campus organizations (Pascarella, 1985). For example, Pascarella indicated that Black students were more influenced by associations such as college committee membership serving college-wide purposes associated to the administration as compared to informal associations with peers that are more of a social fit for majority students. ‘‘A critical component in student persistence is contact with faculty in informal settings outside the classroom’’ (Tinto, 1993, p. 108). This is especially true for African American students who have a tendency to thrive in environments where they feel that they belong. Moreover, for African American students, interactions with faculty are defined as formal interactions, and these interactions counter the possibility of social isolation detrimental to student success. As previously mentioned, social isolation may undermine a student’s academic performance. ‘‘In some instances, academic failure may arise not from the absence of skills but from the debiltating impact of social isolation upon a person’s ability to carry out academic work’’ (Tinto, 1993, p. 109). Because of the commuter nature of public two-year colleges, social isolation is a particular challenge for student persistence at community college. Additionally, students in residential colleges are more likely to have access to and achieve in leadership and athletics when compared to the campus style afforded to community college students. Therefore, the lack of access to more formally organized leadership and athletic activities for community college students may further contribute to the lower persistence rate of these students. It is also acknowledged that it is challenging to provide campus activities that

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forge a connection between commuter community college students and others in the college community; however, the connectivity between students and college community is a goal of all learner-centered community colleges. African American community college students, as well as other students, spend the majority of their weeks off campus, when out of the classroom. In a review of student persistence, Peltier, Laden, and Malranga (1999) confirm that students who registered full-time spend more or less than 15 credit hours per week in classes. Although Peltier focused his research on four-year colleges, community college students traditionally also spend the majority of their time on campus in the classroom, making student engagement with the college community difficult. Additionally, it should be noted that the majority of community college students are part-time students which further confounds the challenge of connecting these students to the college community and each other. The commuter nature of community college students subtracts from the overall supportive elements that enhance student success in a college environment. That is, student involvement in community college enhances the educational environment and sense of belonging for African American students. Michael Cuyjet in his book, African American Men in College (2006), shows how participation in extra-curricular activities can create a positive social climate and examines the advantages of developing communication and leadership skills. Furthermore, it shows how fostering relationships with administrators and community leaders can promote academic success. Finally, the book also describes a proven mentoring program and examines the role spirituality and relationships can play bolstering successful college experiences. However, because of the complexity of student backgrounds and the commuter style and openness of the community college structure, finding the right balance between the frequency and quality of the out of classroom experiences is the art of any extra-curricular activity or program. The sensitivity of working with students whose attention is compartmentalized by work, family, and other obligations makes designing programs to enhance student engagement programs at community colleges an intricate proposition. African American male students’ extra-curricular programs must be designed not to be counterproductive in light of these issues. Consequently, extra-curricular programs in general and mentoring programs in particular must be connected to the colleges’ overall mission and purpose or goals of the institution. It is extremely important that community colleges provide students educationally purposeful events, functions, and activities that assist



them with establishing classroom connections and networks. Essentially, programs are more beneficial when they not only connect students with the internal college community, but also have a link to the external community. When engagement programs can facilitate internal and external linkages, it is enhanced primarily when the connections are intertwined with students’ academic goals and career aspirations.

MENTORING One life learning from another’s life is the simplest form of mentoring. Therefore, mentoring can be vicarious and/or intentional. Vicarious mentoring is exemplified in others observing and imitating displayed leadership without structure prompting the imitation, while intentional leadership is observed in programs designed to demonstrate effective leadership characteristics and strategies that lead to measurable outcomes. Mentoring in community colleges holds more of a promise of meeting the requirements of an intentional mentoring program although vicarious mentoring occurs continuously in the community college setting, peer to peer, colleague to colleague, and manager to employee. The promise of mentoring is more fully actualized by the small teacher/student ratio in community college than when compare to the much larger teacher/student ratios of universities and four-year colleges. In this respect, intentional mentoring programs in community college can be valuable components of the campus and college community. As discussed earlier in this chapter, mentoring allows both the mentor and the mentee to flexibly experience the full range of internal college community and the external communities at-large. Moreover, the type of intentional mentoring that is discussed in this chapter can be described as the traditional one-on-one or group network. Mentoring as a program and philosophy to enhance student success is an excellent component of a supportive campus environment. In his Urban Leadership Institute report ‘‘Man Up: Recruiting and Retaining African American Male Mentors,’’ Miller (2007) describes five distinct types of mentoring programs: (1) traditional one-on-one, (2) school-based, (3) career-based, (4) group mentoring, and (5) Internet mentoring. Traditional one-on-one programs link individual mentors with individual mentees and require a minimum amount of time spent together as mentor and mentee. However, these programs incorporate a significant amount of

Power of Mentoring African American Males in Community Colleges


time and commitment. Therefore, the effects of the cultivated relationship between mentor and mentee are substantial. School-based programs take place during school hours and are designed to improve the academic and/or behavioral performance of the mentee. Most of these programs are conducted in a group setting. Career-based mentoring programs provide mentees with an outlet aimed toward career or vocational exploration. These programs assist mentees with transition to school to work and often link mentees with professionals in their field of interest. Group mentoring involves one mentor working with a group of mentees. Miller (2007) indicates that many programs across the country are turning toward this type of mentoring because of the lack of African American volunteers. Internet mentoring involves the building of relationships between mentor and mentee primarily through e-mail and other forms of Internet communication. Young peoples’ familiarity with the latest communication technology makes this a growing style for mentor/mentee relationships. Harper’s (2006) book, Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny, is an excellent demonstration of the possibilities of Internet mentoring. Actor Hill Harper, currently starring in CSI: NY, holds multiple degrees from Ivy League schools including a B.A. from Brown University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a Master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government. Harper is also founder of the ‘‘MANifest Your Destiny’’ Foundation that provides mentoring opportunities for male as well as female disadvantaged youth. His book, ‘‘Letters to a Young Brother’’ is an excellent example of how the daily issues and concerns of life can be discussed directly via e-mail correspondence between mentor and mentee. The book is a compilation of particular issues and questions e-mailed from young men to Hill Harper or others of the foundation and the mentors’ responses. The e-mail correspondences cover a wide range of issues that young people navigate through during their lifetime. These include educational choices, male–female relationships, as well as how to deal with unhappy life circumstances. The following is an excerpt from Harpers’ website that further clarifies the goals and mission of the ‘‘MANifest Your Destiny’’ Foundation: Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, a non-profit youth organization established by Ivy League actor Hill Harper, is dedicated to empowering, encouraging, and inspiring underserved youth to succeed. The philosophy behind the organization is to provide young men and women with nurturing support systems, resources, encouragement, and guidance through mentorship, scholarship and grant programs.



Feeling that underserved boys and girls are at a severe disadvantage due to their lack of personal interaction with positive role models, founder Hill Harper felt that the core of what the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation facilitates is a mentorship program. Foundation mentors are successful men and women in various industries who are committed to providing underserved young men and women with guidance, positive role models, apprenticeships, internships, constructive outlets and the motivation to dream big and accomplish anything they set their minds to. The Manifest Your Destiny Foundation provides financial resources and practical experience to support young men and women’s academic or professional field of interest. Internships and/or apprenticeships are awarded to eligible young people who have demonstrated their passions and commitment to furthering their education through academic achievement and community service. Additionally, the organization awards grants to deserving young men and women seeking to start their own business. (http://

Internet mentoring is an excellent resource for students, faculty, staff, and administrators because it enhances the opportunities for learning between mentors and mentees. Although Internet mentoring may seem impersonal to some, the prospect of Internet mentoring is worth exploring especially when mentors are few and the need for mentoring African American males is great. All of these forms of mentoring have the potential to benefit African American male students and increase the opportunity for them to develop better relationships with faculty, staff, administrators, and other students at the college. Finding the appropriate mentoring type or combination of types for students is critical to the success of the mentoring relationship. It is also crucial for cultivating favorable conditions for an engaging and supportive college environment for African American males. To do this, community colleges must learn and concentrate on the essential elements for a supportive campus environment. Kuh (2005) offers a framework for favorable conditions for a supportive campus environment which includes the following: (1) an institutional emphasis on providing students the support they need for academics and social success; (2) positive working and social relationships among different groups; (3) help for students in coping with their non-academic responsibilities; and (4) high-quality student relationships with other students, faculty, and the institution’s administrative personnel. If the criteria as set out by Kuh are met in the development of mentoring programs, the implementation will result in a well-designed effective and supportive environment enhanced by the evidence of appropriate institutional resources.

Power of Mentoring African American Males in Community Colleges


Moreover, the criteria set by Kuh contain the essential elements that will assist a mentoring program in addressing the persistence and retention of African American students, especially African American males. This model also enhances the mentoring relationships between students, faculty, staff, and/or administrators who provide academic social and personal support with an emphasis on success in college and hopefully success in life. Mentoring programs bind the academic with the social aspects of college life. Tinto (1993) recognizes the interconnection of the academic and social systems of the collegiate environment. ‘‘It must be recognized that these systems are invariably interwoven. Events in one may directly or indirectly influence, over time, events in the other’’ (p. 109). It is proposed that the events in mentoring relationships may counter the sometime negative situations that African American males face on and off campus. Mentoring relationships add a sense of belonging for students who may find attending college within the figurative ‘‘shadows’’ of the college environment. A sense of belonging is essential for ensuring a good fit for a student fit with the institution and important for students making the decision to stay in college. The need to belong is inherent in the nature of all people. Whether shy or garrulous, people want to feel a sense of belonging. This is especially true for young men, who are going against the odds to make the leap from deciding not to attend college to earning a college degree. Many African American or Black males are not only the first to attend college in their family (considered in the literature as ‘‘first-generation college students’’), but many are also the first in their family to have achieved a high school diploma. Basic approaches to student and academic affairs do not entertain the salient issues that surround and preoccupy these students. Often African American male students are unaware of the issues that surround them that makes going to college so difficult. Frequently, these students do not know or understand that there are beneficial choices available to them when faced with academic, social, relational, and career dilemmas. Mentoring is an answer that serves to lead young Black men to the beneficial choices in life, academics, and career.

Mentoring Programs Recognizing the importance and sense of urgency needed to address the immediate and pressing concerns of African American males in our colleges and society, several individuals and organizations have offered up various proposed strategies and programs that they hope would be the magic



concoction or panacea to the plight of African American males. Widespread concern that too many African American males are dropping out of college before they earn their degree is the root cause for many of the problems that these males encounter later in life. Unemployment, underemployment, lack of skills, crime, drugs, and incarceration endured during the prime productive years of their lives represent the tip of the iceberg. To ameliorate the situation, a plethora of strategies and programs was developed throughout the educational community. Many of the strategies are broad in scope and hold promise for making things better, but rarely do they offer workable, real life solutions or practices. Numerous studies and research data have informed the strategies and program practices that reflect varying degrees of emphasis and preference in terms of what some people think might work or adequately address some aspect of the problem. In fact, over the years, institutions have committed and spent thousands of dollars to study, research, confer, attend conferences, and review best practices but rarely implement their findings. Ironically, some institutions have even paid outside experts to rehash knowingly or unknowingly the institution’s own research and findings. Research reveals that the institutions have for one reason or another failed to implement or follow through on recommendations and/or suggested practices. Thus, there is the growing trend for more institutions to turn to for-profit organizations that are just now getting into the business and onto the bandwagon for academic persistence, retention, and success for African American males. In many instances, collaboration among higher educational institutions and various community and social organizations seems to promote and offer the best hope for realistically addressing the systemic and other challenges that African American males inevitably encounter. The following section provides a description of five programs that are making a significant contribution and difference in an effort to help turn the tide from college failure to college success and lifelong achievements for African American males. Programs such as the Collegiate 100, Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB), My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), North Carolina Community College System, and HCC’s Collegiate 100 Program are vanguards in the tireless effort to bring about positive changes with lasting effects on the lives of African American males. Collegiate 100 (C-100) The C-100 created in the 1990s is an auxiliary organization of 100 Black Men of America. Membership consists of primarily college males of African

Power of Mentoring African American Males in Community Colleges


American descent. The purpose of the C-100 is to implement the mentoring and tutoring programs of the 100 Black Men of America. Table 1 is a listing of incorporated chapters of the 100 Black Men that sponsor C-100 chapters, and their affiliated colleges and universities (Cuyjet & Associates, 2006, p. 329). The participants assist the parent organization with the development of the social, emotional, educational, and physical needs of young Black males who have few or no positive role models in the communities in which they live. Participants in this program are committed to volunteerism and improving communities. Students who seek membership with a local C-100 chapter are expected to satisfy basic membership requirements such as good academic standing with their respective university, a minimum GPA of 2.5, and high moral character. Students with a prior criminal record must gain the sponsoring chapter’s approval for membership. Each Collegiate chapter has an advisor from the faculty or staff of the college or university where the chapter is located. Each advisor must maintain active participation in the local 100 Black Men to ensure that the program operates efficiently and effectively. Guidelines for establishing and operating a chapter require a minimum of 10 men to form a C-100 chapter. Each C-100 chapter will hold a spring induction ceremony for new members. A second induction is optional with a minimum of two new members. A first-semester freshman is not eligible for induction. All officers of the chapter must attend induction ceremonies, and at least one member Table 1.

100 Black Men Collegiate 100 Chapters.

College University of Tennessee University of Louisville Savannah State University University of North Carolina at Charlotte Harris-Stowe State University and Southeast Missouri State University Morehouse College University of West Florida Columbus State University Albany State University North Carolina State University/North Carolina Central University North Carolina A&T State University Southern University and A&M College Tennessee State University

Location Chattanooga, Tennessee Louisville, Kentucky Savannah, Georgia Charlotte, North Carolina St. Louis, Missouri Atlanta, Georgia Pensacola, Florida Columbus, Georgia Albany, Georgia Raleigh, North Carolina/Durham, North Carolina Greensboro, North Carolina Baton Rouge, Louisiana Nashville, Tennessee



from 100 Black Men of America, Inc. must attend the induction ceremony to serve as a speaker. A final caveat states that C-100 members should remove any image or secrecy of induction ceremonies and invite all constituents of the campus community to attend this event, thus creating an environment to broaden support and recruit quality members. C-100’s parent organization, 100 Black Men of America, was founded in New York City in 1963 (Cuyjet & Associates, 2006, p. 331). This organization mission includes four major components – mentoring, education, health and wellness, and economic development-factors that the organization has identified to be essential to the future of African Americans. Leading, professional African American men in business, industry, public affairs, higher education, and government comprise the membership of 100 Black Men of America, Inc. The C-100 began because 100 Black Men of America identified a need to devise an intervention and prevention strategy for African American males in elementary and high school that promoted academic excellence, a solid social structure, a knowledge of the free enterprise system, and community and economic awareness among these youths. Members of 100 Black Men of America donate time to serve as role models for African American youth in their community. The demand for such quality time and commitment is so great that the 100 Black Men of America created the C-100 expressly for the purpose of continuing recruitment of qualified, energetic, and empathetic individuals to provide mentoring support for their younger counterparts.

Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) SAAB is an organization with over 168 chapters in the United States and abroad. The founder of this organization, Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, started the organization during the Fall of 1990, in response to the needs of African American males at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia. Bledsoe had a vision to create an organization that would provide student development intervention and support to African American men enrolled in college. By design, SAAB is a Black male development model. Conceptually, the founder perceived it as indispensable in assisting African American men in developing a better understanding of their responsibilities as college students and in being United States citizens. One of the sterling features of SAAB is that it offers younger generations a means by which to think, act, and prepare for a better future than that which befalls too many other African American males. SAAB ingrains

Power of Mentoring African American Males in Community Colleges


into the fiber of their participants self-reliance, assertiveness, and a takecharge attitude of their destiny. In other words, SAAB, while nurturing its participants, does hold high expectations for each participant to develop and become assertive, independent lifelong learners. SAAB is a dynamic rapidly growing United States organization. Its declared intent and purpose is to assist its members in pursuing excellence academically, socially, culturally, personally, and professionally. According to Tyrone Bledsoe and Kevin D. Rome, Sr., the goal is for all Black males at participating institutions to take full advantage of their academic years and collegiate experiences. It is for Black males to better understand and practice their full responsibilities, rights, and privileges as citizens of the United States. Additionally, SAAB provides opportunities for collaboration that allow its members to work cohesively with other young Black males in need of guidance and direction. SAAB has four core values that the advisors and student leaders within organizations work to accomplish. These values are proactive leadership, accountability, intellectual development, and self-discipline. For its community service component, SAAB has officially adopted Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers and Sisters as its official service projects. SAAB offers an array of services such as tutorial personal assistance, career planning and counseling, cultural and social activities, personnel development opportunities, community service, and service learning to help accomplish its overall goals. By design, its organizational programs promote positive thinking and high self-esteem in African American male students. The foremost objective of the organization is that all Black male members will be role models for each other as well as for other Black males in their communities. Through this array of integrated services, the provision of positive role models, and by employing its three-pronged approach to mentoring, SAAB increases the chances for successful college matriculation for African American males. The SAAB three-pronged approach to mentoring involves (1) peer-to-peer transactions among college students, (2) advisor-to-student transactions, and (3) older student (collegiate) to younger student (high school and middle school) transactions. Students in SAAB provide feedback by reporting their satisfaction with the three-part mentoring components of the organization. Students report success in adjusting to college life, the ability to connect and bond with other male student in a non-threatening manner, the positive effect of faculty and staff mentors on their academic prowess as reflected in their grade point averages, and personal fulfillment from serving as individual mentors to others.



SAAB Structure. Each SAAB chapter has its own idiosyncrasies and caters to the needs of the men in each campus environment. However, there are some commonalities in the structure among various chapters. Each chapter consists of six committees that cover the following: (1) personal development, (2) service, (3) academic, (4) financial affairs, (5) spiritual enrichment/ social, and (6) membership/public relations. Each committee has a chair and co-chair. The personal development committee is responsible for creating and offering programs to foster student development and learning among the membership. An important component of this committee is the ‘‘teachable moment,’’ an educational seminar conducted by one or more SAAB members during the regular meetings of the organization. The service committee is responsible for organizing service-learning initiatives for SAAB members. The academic committee is responsible for coordinating with student support services, career services, academic support centers, and student and leadership development on members’ campuses. The committee enhances recruitment and retention efforts at members’ universities, with particular emphasis on first-year African American males. The financial affairs committee is responsible for developing financial seminars for the membership, with sessions on money management, tax preparation, consumer credit information, stocks and bonds, mutual funds, investment clubs, entrepreneurial opportunities, business plans, and general accounting practices. The spiritual-enrichment/social committee is responsible for providing opportunities for the membership to bond and socialize. It plans activities such as church visits, bowling, movies, golf, the theatre, athletic sport events, and many other civic and community events. The membership/public relations committee is responsible for maintaining the membership roster and database, developing the website, promoting the use of technology such as using e-mail, searching the Web, joining listservs, creating PowerPoint presentations, accessing the Blackboard Learning System, etc. This committee is also responsible for new member orientation, and promotion of all organizational activities and programs. My Brother’s Keepers (MBK) MBK is a new initiative that Santa Fe College (SFC) (formerly Santa Fe Community College) in Gainesville, Florida, developed to curtail the decreasing retention and graduation rates among Black males, said Eugene

Power of Mentoring African American Males in Community Colleges


Jones, executive director of the program. Jones said the mission of the program is simple: increase the participation, retention, and graduation rates of Black men at SFC (Lloyd, 2006). The program’s title, MBK, has a special significance. ‘‘The name implies we all have a responsibility to make sure our fellow peers are successful,’’ Jones said. ‘‘It is not an individual effort. We must realize that it is a community effort.’’ ‘‘We are real optimistic about this program and feel it will have a positive impact on students,’’ Jones said. ‘‘We encourage everyone to just check it out. If you make one step toward us, we will take two toward you to help you out.’’ According to Jones, the statistics on Black men in college are ‘‘more complex than anyone realized.’’ The retention rate for one calendar school year is about 50%. ‘‘That means we lose half of them within the first year,’’ he said. Consequently, after three years, about 15% graduate. ‘‘For a typical two-year college, that’s not doing too well,’’ he said. ‘‘We have got to do a better job.’’ The statistics also indicate a gender gap between Black males and Black females, which is another concern. According to the US Department of Education, the gap between Black males and females is 26.56% as opposed to the White gender gap at 11.4% (Lloyd, 2006). At SFC, President Jackson Sasser provided the requisite leadership, vision, and broad direction for the program from the top. According to Jones, Sasser pulled together a committee to help come up with solutions to face the retention, graduation, and gender gap percentages. ‘‘Santa Fe is an open door college, which means we admit high school graduates, and we have programs that help students earn a high school equivalency,’’ Sasser said. ‘‘Our advising and counseling services are second to none. Our AfricanAmerican enrollment is good, and we look forward to strengthening our programs for men.’’ Because of the significance of the program, several different departments have pledged financial and resource support for the students’ different needs. The program will offer many varying activities to help engage the Black male student population at Santa Fe. A few resources to help students advance are tutoring, career planning, a textbook and equipment lending library, financial aid counseling, and computer resources. The program also will hold monthly luncheon workshops that will focus on issues affecting Black men such as family life, communication skills, parenting skills, work, and responsibility. The cornerstone of MBK is mentoring. About 30–50% of the program relies on the mentor–student relationship, said Mardell Coleman, programmentoring coordinator. The college currently has about 50 mentors for the program.



Mentors must complete training to inform those who are interested about the level of commitment involved, how to obtain support from their supervisors, how to establish healthy boundaries, how to develop listening skills, and how to determine the difference between mentoring and counseling. SFC provides prospective mentors with training on how to assist students with problems and to identify different resources on and off campus to help resolve those problems. MBK assigns mentors to one to four students depending on the availability of mentors and the number of participants. The MBK initiative pairs mentors and students in various areas, such as career interests and hobbies, a successful mentoring relationship. A unique aspect of the mentors is that anyone can become a mentor. Currently, mentors are SFC employees. First-year SFC physical therapy student Malcolm Lang said mentors have played a role in his life. ‘‘My cousin graduated from the [University of Florida] last year and is in Chicago now. He was always doing positive things that made me look up to him and want to do the same things. I think having a mentor on campus would make me feel comfortable to have someone to go to for help,’’ Lang said.

Hillsborough Community College Collegiate 100 The C-100 initiative at HCC commenced in Spring semester 2007. This initiative is an outgrowth of Black, Brown & College Bound: A Summit on African American and Hispanic Males meeting the Challenges of Higher Education. The summit was developed and convened by Dr. Sylvia Marion Carley, former Vice President of Education and Student Development, with the support of the Board of Trustees and the College President, Dr. Gwendolyn W. Stephenson. As a vanguard educational institution in the community, the College took the lead by addressing perennial systemic challenges that imposed barriers to the successful retention, academic persistence, and ultimate graduation of African American and Latino males in higher education. HCC has demonstrated a firm commitment to this cause by sponsoring and serving as the host institution for the last three years of the national ‘‘Black, Brown and College Bound Summit.’’ Methodical in its approach and strategy for addressing the issues that African American males inevitably encounter in postsecondary institutions, the College decided that no one institution can single-handedly solve the concerns and challenges that affect the target population of Black

Power of Mentoring African American Males in Community Colleges


males. This fact led the College to enter into a collaborative partnership agreement with 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, Inc., a chapter of 100 Black Men of America. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the College and 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, Inc. formalized the partnership agreement. The MOU clearly articulates the obligations and responsibilities of the signatory parties to the agreement. HCC provides the facilities for meeting space, advertises the C-100 initiative, and encourages all interested students to join and become members of the C-100. Additionally, the College agrees to provide administrative leadership and staff to set up and establish C-100 as well as to serve as advisors/mentors. The 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, Inc. provides mentorship, commits the time and effort of its professional members to serve in mentoring HCC’s students, and attends the new campus chapter orientation activities and C-100 events. Collegiate 100 is a district-wide program that falls under the auspices of the Director of TRIO and Special Program, Derrick Brown. The program has executive level support from the Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management, Dr. Kenneth Ray, and the College President. Open to all students at the college, this program is unique in that HCC is the first community college in the state and possibly the nation to host such a program. As stated before, through a MOU, the College has an affiliate relationship with 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, Inc. to work collaboratively in jointly developing the C-100. The C-100 basic operating principles mirror the five major operating principles of the 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, Inc.: education, economic development, leadership, health, and mentorship. Campus advisors and members of the 100 Black Men mentor the C-100 students, and the C-100 students then in turn mentor mentees in local elementary schools situated in close proximity to one of the five HCC campuses. Additionally, numerous internal and external activities and events through the academic year designed for engaging C-100 students are beneficial in sustaining participants’ active interest and ongoing participation in this new initiative. A high expectation for C-100 students in a variety of active leadership roles on campuses is the norm. The C-100 students meet monthly on their respective campuses to plan campus activities and projects for each semester that are in accordance with the mentoring schedule of the 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, Inc. A district-wide leadership forum held during Fall and Spring semesters provides opportunities for C-100 students to contribute by sharing their talents and leadership skills, and/or to discuss any pressing issues that might impede their overall academic



persistence and success. At the leadership forums, students learn about various careers, especially those careers that require or embrace science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Externally, expectations are that C-100 students will volunteer and participate annually in numerous cultural and extra-curricular activities such as the African American Men’s Health Forums, Juneteenth and Imani celebrations, respectively, as well as attend special sport events. In addition, 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, Inc. extends an open invitation to C-100 students to attend the organization’s monthly business meetings. The local and national chapters of 100 Black Men of America sponsor annual conferences that emphasize education, leadership, and mentorship as central and integral themes for their conferences. Members of the C-100 students have opportunities to attend these conferences at the local, state, and national levels. Additionally, to foster a nurturing caring environment for C-100 students, the 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, Inc. sponsors special social events (‘‘mixers’’) that allow C-100 students to socialize and network with the many professionals from different career fields who comprise the local chapter of 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay Incorporated.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEMS ‘‘The two year colleges often represent Black men’s first experience with post-secondary education and for many, their last opportunity for obtaining a degree beyond a high school diploma. Given the large numbers of Black men in two year-schools, community colleges indeed may be the best– positioned educational institution to address the plight of this demographic, at least initially’’ (Burns & Bush, 2005). In 2006, HCC convened the first summit in Florida to focus on the African American and Latino males. Since 2007, Black, Brown & College Bound: A Summit on African American & Hispanic Males meeting the Challenge of Higher Education has been sponsored by a consortium of community colleges in the state. The summit was the outgrowth of the colleges’ desire to increase the enrollment and graduation of males. In 2006, the issues were defined. In 2007, the students’ voices were lifted to identify and provide some solutions to the concerns of the students. In 2008, practitioners and students were empowered to act. The summit offered an opportunity for various practitioners from across

Power of Mentoring African American Males in Community Colleges


the nation to share their ideas about the issues and possible solutions that have been successful on their college campuses. The summit included outstanding motivational speakers and a special track for students. Workshops provided information to participants to design programs that will enhance male enrollment, retention, and graduation. The summit workshops focused on programs and activities to increase student success. The interest in mentoring programs has increased at each conference. The most significant feature of the conference has been the student panel. At the initial summit, 10% of the participants were students; in 2008, 30% of the attendees were students. The tracking of the students who participate on the student panel allows for monitoring the success of students as they participate in the conference and through various programs at their individual colleges. Mentoring is a tool used by most of the successful programs. The North Carolina Community College System recognizes the power of mentoring and has established a funded state-wide initiative for mentoring African American and other minority males attending community colleges. Four years ago, the North Carolina Community College System funded six community colleges (Durham Technical Community College, Johnston Community College, Mitchell Community College, Piedmont Community College, Southeastern Community College, and Wayne Community Colleges) to initiate minority mentoring programs. Program participants attend retreats, participate in community services activism, personal growth workshops, drug and substance abuse education, and spend quality time with faculty members. The students serve as role models for other students and the community. The system sponsors best practice conferences to ensure that information is shared concerning the projects and the results. Since the program’s initiation, they have experienced success retaining African Americans and other minorities in college at rates that exceed the rate of minority students who did not participate in the mentoring initiative. The overall System average for curriculum student retention and graduation for 2003–2004 was 65 percent (Hickman & White, 2007, p. 2). The 2007–2008 North Carolina Community College Minority Male Mentoring Program reports that of ‘‘165 students who participated in the six pilot programs over the two year period had a graduation and retention rate of 90.1 percent. Although the North Carolina report only involved the results of six community colleges, it holds promise that the results are repeatable at colleges across the nation.



CONCLUSION Mentoring relationships are lasting and do have an impact on the career development of college students. In the context of a systematic approach, mentoring programs for traditionally underrepresented and/or underprepared students have the power to transform the college into an engaging proactive supportive environment. Mentoring programs give the institution the ability to work holistically with students individually while simultaneously enhancing the opportunity for student success for particular student cohorts. Additionally, community college mentoring programs meet all of the elements described by Kuh for a supportive campus environment. Systemic mentoring programs demonstrate an emphasis on providing students with needed support for academic and social success. Each program previously described was endorsed and promoted by college administration and implemented by faculty and staff throughout the college. The HCC’s C-100 and the SFC ‘‘MBK ’’ programs were initiated at the executive level of the organization. Positive working and social relationships among different groups were major components of all the community college mentoring programs cited in this chapter. Each program had an internal component involving faculty or staff and students as well as opportunities for external interaction with the surrounding college community. For instance, Students African American Brotherhood partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as Habitat for Humanity. The C-100 programs partner with local elementary and high schools to provide mentoring and tutorial services. Helping students cope with their non-academic responsibilities or issues is an important aspect of all programs described in this chapter. Each program involved planned workshops to educate their members about leadership and other soft skills needed to enhance relationships with other peers or employers. The Students African American Brotherhood includes personal finance seminars. The HCC C-100 includes as part of their leadership workshops career awareness concerning possibilities for career involving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. SFC’s MBK also provides information and seminars on good parenting. Most importantly, high-quality student relationships are cultivated with students, faculty, and college administrators. Although HCC has five campuses, relationships between each campus’ C-100 chapters are cultivated via college-wide leadership programs, mentoring in the elementary schools, and events hosted by the 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay. Faculty, staff, and administrators on different campuses get involved with the C-100 events

Power of Mentoring African American Males in Community Colleges


hosted at their respective campuses. SFC’s MBK purposely links students with mentors who share students’ academic or non-academic interest. The commuter nature of community colleges makes creating engaging environments a challenge. However, mentoring programs provide a better opportunity for students to engage with the college with added flexibility. Mentoring programs need not be restricted by time or location. Email, Internet blogs, and other electronic social network forms of communication can assist with connecting mentors with mentees as well as mentees with other members of the mentee group. SAAB involves mentees via listserv and Blackboard learning systems. Additionally, mentees can connect with mentors via phone, e-mail, texting, or in person at times more suitable for mentor and mentee. All programs have mentors that make themselves available to mentors to assist mentees with academic and personal issues. The recruitment, enrollment, and retention of African American males are supported in various ways by community college systems in several states such as Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, etc. As a part of its accountability measures, Florida provides financial increases to community colleges for the graduation of African American males. The system of Georgia has an African American male’s initiative that focuses on the barriers to college participation, devising strategies to overcome those barriers and creating new opportunities for access and participation. The North Carolina System established a Minority Male Mentoring (3MMI) project that specifically emphasizes the concept of mentoring as a strategy to retain African American males in college. The program is about second chances. In fact, the NCCCS President cited statistics indicating that this program is about improving the odds and getting more African American males in community college and keeping them enrolled (Hickman & White, 2007). The power and promise of mentoring programs for community college African American men is significant. Mentoring empowers African American men attending community college to seek connections with the college community as well as develop individual relationships with faculty, staff, and administrators who can advise and assist them with the trials and challenges of collegiate and personal life.

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Tracey, T., & Sedlacek, W. (1987). A comparison of White and Black student academic success using noncognitive variables: A Lisrel analysis. Research in Higher Education, 27, 333–348. United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (1991). Historically, Black colleges and universities and higher education desegregation. Washington, DC. Retrieved December 15, 2007, from hq9511.html