Representatives Jon Hardister, R-Guilford, and Zack Hawkins, D-Durham, announced the formation of a new historically black colleges and universities caucus, along with senators Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, and Carl Ford, R-Rowan.

“The mission of this joint legislative H.B.C.U. Caucus is to educate and engage members of the North Carolina General Assembly in a bipartisan and bicameral manner on the successes and benefits of the state’s 10 historically black colleges and universities,” said Robinson, a graduate of Bennett College and North Carolina A&T. Another part of the mission is “to identify and address challenges that impede [H.B.C.U.’s] ability to provide the highest quality and equitable education to their students.”

According to a 2017 study, HBCUs generate $1.7 billion in total economic impact. The 7,784 North Carolina HBCU 2014 graduates can expect total earnings of $20.7 billion over their lifetimes, or about $2.66 million each on average.

“One of the greatest strategies to continue to build upon North Carolina’s economic success is to support the sustainability and growth of our 10 HBCUs,” said Hardister. “Together, North Carolina’s 10 HBCUs generate over $1.7 billion in economic impact yearly and contribute nearly 16,000 jobs to their local economies. I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle to further advance the success of North Carolina’s HBCUs.”

The caucus is now recruiting members, according to Hardister.

“North Carolina has more four-year HBCUs than any other state in the nation,” said Robinson.

North Carolina is home to many of the top HBCUs in the United States. North Carolina A&T is the number one producer of black graduates in Engineering and Agriculture and top five in numerous other disciplines, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“North Carolina’s HBCU institutions have been, and always will be, one of our most significant pipelines for future leaders and policymakers in our state and beyond,” said Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, President & CEO of The Hunt Institute. “We must increase our awareness of the impact and potential these campuses hold, and this caucus is a critical step forward in ensuring the future success of each campus.”

HBCUs award 43 percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned by black students in North Carolina.

The caucus has identified a number of objectives, including:
• Guide policymakers in highlighting success and current challenges for North Carolina’s 10
• Draft bipartisan legislation to address individual and statewide needs of HBCUs.
• Ensure HBCU graduates have access to career and economic opportunities.
• Identify opportunities to increase direct engagement between North Carolina legislators and
HBCU chancellors/presidents, faculty, staff, students, and alumni both at the General Assembly
and across North Carolina.

A statue of NC Central University founder James E. Shepard greets visitors to the Durham campus. Source: NC Central University