The HBCU Experience: A Cultural Phenomenon Event


Saturday, June 9, 2018
Noon – 3 p.m.
Wakefield High School
1325 S. Dinwiddie St.
Arlington, VA 22206

Join the Arlington Public Schools Office of Equity and Excellence for the HBCU Experience: A Cultural Phenomenon event on Saturday, June 9 from Noon – 3 p.m. at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie St.). The event will feature a screening of the Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities documentary and a panel discussion featuring alumni from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) discussing the importance of having institutions that focus on a quality educational, cultural, and social climate for minority students that serve as an incubator for minority achievement and a safe space to develop one’s own cultural identity. This event will be an opportunity for prospective college students and the community to gather to discuss the pivotal role HBCUs have played in American history and culture while illuminating the critical considerations these institutions are facing for their future survival. In addition, this event will explore the past and present educational inequities for minorities in the United States with specific attention on access to higher education while cultivating widespread appreciation for HBCUs among diverse communities. Everyone is invited to attend this event to learn, reflect, and discuss the HBCU experience and how it is a unique collegiate experience.

Light refreshments will be served at the beginning of the event and attendees will be treated to freshly popped popcorn during the screening of the documentary. Attendees are encouraged to wear school paraphernalia representing their alma mater or prospective school.

If you are interested in attending the event, please visit the following link to RSVP:

For additional information or questions about this event, please contact Schirley Soto at 703-228-7216 or

The History of HBCUs

Established over 150 years ago to educate formerly enslaved African Americans who were barred from public schools, HBCUs were for a century the only option for African American students to obtain a college education until the 1950s when colleges were desegregated. While HBCUs were originally founded to primarily educate African American students, they have now become institutions of higher learning that attract a diverse student population, especially since many HBCUs specialize in graduating students in certain respective majors.

This documentary explores how African Americans who were able to attain a higher education played an enormous part in propelling the epic journey toward liberation for Black people in the United States. Beginning with Cheyney University of Pennsylvania founded in 1837, HBCUs played a central role in the shaping of Black life and identity, creating a Black middle class and dismantling segregation. Today, they continue to be an engine for Black economic progress and incubators of the ongoing movement for justice. Through this rich tapestry of never before seen or heard media—including archival photos, letters, diaries, and film footage— memorable first-hand testimonials with key students, staff, faculty, and alumni, Tell Them We Are Rising brings into sharp focus the pivotal role the HBCUs have played in American history, culture, and national identity and illuminates the critical considerations these institutions are facing for their future survival. Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities is the first and only feature documentary and multi-platform project to research, gather, and share a rich mosaic of stories that relay the history and legacy of historically Black colleges and universities.