Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are a vital part of American history as well as an integral part of the higher education landscape. Not only do HBCUs provide access to a higher education for diverse communities, but they also have been a pipeline for many historical figures. Individuals such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Marian Wright Edelman, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, and Vice President Kamala Harris all graduated from HBCUs. HBCUs contribute $15 billion to the national economy annually and these institutions consistently provide pathways of opportunity for millions of Americans, many of whom are first generation college students.
It is critical for Congress to continue to protect and support HBCUs, which have been historically underfunded. Congressman Clyburn has worked with colleagues to secure over $4.9 billion in direct aid to HBCUs and minority institutions; and over $1.6 billion debt relief to HBCUs through the Federal HBCU Capital Financing Program and other COVID-19 response legislation like the American Rescue Plan Act. This, along with Capital Financing Loan Forgiveness, has allowed many HBCUs in South Carolina to forgive millions of dollars’ worth of debt. In addition, Congress passed legislation with bipartisan support to reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Preservation Program, created by Congressman Clyburn. This most recent appropriation provided $10 million annually for seven years to ensure the preservation of HBCUs across the nation. It also ensures the protection of the great legacy of HBCUs for years to come.
As a former history teacher, Congressman Clyburn believes in preserving our past so we can learn the lessons of history. Along with the protection of historic buildings and sites on HBCU campuses, the Congressman is a longtime advocate of historic preservation. He has sponsored legislation that created the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor and the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, elevated the Congaree National Monument to a National Park, and established the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park in South Carolina’s Lowcountry and the affiliated Reconstruction Era National Historic Network. He has also introduced bipartisan legislation to create the Southern Campaign of the Revolution National Heritage Corridor. All these efforts are aimed at preserving the rich history of the Palmetto State and ensuring it remains accessible for future generations.