In the past decade, many historically Black colleges and universities have increasingly become whiter. While HBCUs have always allowed people of different races into their doors, the last 10 years have seen a larger enrollment of non-Black students. In fact, Bluefield State College in West Virginia has an 82 percent white student enrollment as of 2011. Gadsden State Community College in Alabama is 71 percent white; Lincoln University in Missouri is 60 percent white; West Virginia State University has a 50 percent white population, and St. Philip’s College in Texas has a Hispanic majority of 50 percent. According to writer Sarah Butrymowicz for Time, “nationwide, an average of one in four HBCU students is a different race than the one the school was intended to serve, according to research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.”
To some, the first HBCU comes down to one of two universities: Cheyney University in Pennsylvania founded in 1837 and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania founded in 1854. Graduates of both colleges believe their alma mater is the first. No one can agree.