Before the civil rights movement, African Americans were largely barred from white-dominated institutions of higher education. And so black Americans, and their white supporters, founded their own schools, which came to be known as Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCU graduates helped launch the civil rights movement, built the black middle class, and staffed the pulpits of black churches and the halls of almost every black primary school before the 1960s. But after desegregation, some people began to ask whether HBCUs had outlived their purpose. Yet for the students who attend them, HBCUs still play a crucial -- and unique -- role. In this documentary, we hear first-person testimony from students about why they chose an HBCU; and we travel to an HBCU that’s in the process of reinventing itself wholesale.
Zach Hubert came out of slavery with an adage that he would pass on to his children, and his children's children, and their children down the line. "Get your education," he would always say to them when his family gathered together in later years. "It's the one thing they can't take away from you."
Paul Quinn College was a sorry sight when Michael Sorrell, the school's fifth president in as many years, drove onto the Dallas campus to see what he was dealing with. As Sorrell looked around campus, he had one thought. How do you save a school that everyone thinks is already dead?