Monday, October 18, 2010

Ralph Jones, Jr: 16-Year Old Chooses HBCU Over Harvard


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

When I heard about 16-year old Ralph Jones Jr. choosing Florida A&M University over Harvard, I didn't even flinch. In fact, the words "woopty damn doo" came to mind. Those words were not chosen because I didn't appreciate the enormity of Jones' achievements, but rather, it was because most of us already know that many HBCUs are better than schools like Harvard and Yale. They are certainly better for African American students in almost every context.
The imaginary mystique of schools like Harvard and Yale effectively exists because these schools got a huge head start on HBCUs as it relates to access to resources and the establishment of legacy. In fact, many of these institutions were founded at a time when it was illegal for slaves to learn how to read. So today, Ivy League universities have endowments in the billions, while many HBCUs can barely pay the light bill.


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