My goal is to visit every Historically Black College and University (HBCU). There are 101 schools reaching through the South and much of the eastern seaboard. I had visited Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College, and Spelman College, all also known as the Atlanta University (AU) Center, Howard University, Xavier University, Fisk University, Meharry Medical School, and Hampton University.
Bennett College, an all women’s HBCU in Greensboro, North Carolina, put me back on the trajectory in 2019 to meet my goal. The school, early in that year, was on the verge of losing its accreditation. The hashtag #StandWithBennett raised awareness about the college needing to raise a significant amount of money within a close deadline. The money was raised in time. I contributed as well. I did not want another HBCU to close. I also had not heard of this school, which prompted me to write my list of four-year HBCUs to visit. There are also community colleges among HBCUs.
Bennett College is a sprawling campus mere minutes from North Carolina A&T University, which has more modern buildings on a sprawling, older campus. Bennett has a beautiful lawn with trees perched along the foundation. A campus officer kindly helped me navigate where to park.
At many of the schools I visit, I purchase a t-shirt or a commemorative trinket. At every school, I take a picture of the entrance because t-shirts are also expensive. I visited Bennett during the sweltering southern heat in early August. I had the blessed experience to be led on an impromptu tour of the school by a Bennett Belle father named Darris. He sold school t-shirts. His daughter graduated this Spring. He showed me the gravesite where vicious gossip goes to rest. Each piece of gossip had a gravestone. I walked through the gorgeous Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke. The dining hall smelled of fried food and freedom. I walked past Willa B. Player Hall. Player was the first African-American woman to become a president of a fully accredited liberal college, which was at Bennett College. Dr. Player also brought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to speak at the school in 1958.
In the time since Bennett College, I have visited twenty-five HBCUs. Walking around each storied campus was a powerful experience. I have a number of schools lined up to visit this year.
You can support Bennett College through the Stand With Bennett website in association with the college. The book, Belles of Liberty: Gender, Bennett College, and the Civil Rights Movement by Linda Beatrice Brown centers the historic lunch counter protests that began in Greensboro, North Carolina that was led by four young Black men from North Carolina A&T and propelled by planning on Bennett College’s campus with the hundreds of women for the Civil Rights Movement.
I will also note that although Bennett College is billed as a women’s college, it also admits students who do not fit the gender binary.