Last Wednesday, students, faculty, staff, and alumni from across the Southern University System traveled to the Louisiana State Capitol to observe HBCU Day. “A lot of awareness and advocacy was shown, to not only let Louisiana know, but the entire nation that HBCUs produce the the best and the brightest, and HBCU products are what this country needs to move forward,” is how Southern University’s 76th SGA President-Elect, Donald Dunbar described his experience. The day was filled with acknowledgement and accolades towards HBCUs, with students and faculty from Grambling State University, Dillard University and Xavier University of Louisiana also attending the event.
These HBCUs were part of a series of attendees who represented their schools and organizations at the capitol in order to receive funding and support from the local government. Representatives of the boards of higher education and HBCU Advisory Council came to acknowledge how these schools reinforce the economic power of Louisiana, in order to defend their state funding. In preparation for this event, President of Xavier University Reynold Verret spoke with BRProud on what events would occur during the HBCU Day at the Capitol. “This morning we have a meeting with the Advisory council that works with the superintendent of higher education in Louisiana [...] There are other activities where we are engaging with legislators, many of whom are supporting HBCUs. Others want to understand the impact of HBCUs, especially their contributions to the state of Louisiana,”said Verret.
President-Chancellor of Southern University, Dr. Ray Belton expressed the importance of HBCU attendendance at events of these sorts saying, “The state actually needs HBCUs to ramp it up even more in terms of the production of talent here in the state, so we accept that obligation here in the state to do so.” Senator Wesley T. Bishop also elaborated on why HBCUs should stand in unity with each other: “We stand upon the shoulders of people who fought for HBCUs before any of us made this coalition to fight the fight together.”
Various Student Government Association presidents of HBCUs spoke, including incoming president Blair McKee of Dillard and Southern’s current SGA president, Anthony Kenney. The capitol also held visits from Louisiana State University on April 20, as well as organizations such as the Louisiana Future Farmers of America and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated previously.
The traditions of HBCUs were also on full display, with SU’s Human Jukebox and The World Fame band of Grambling State performing for attendees. Members of the National Pan Hellenic Council also were in the spotlight, holding a stroll off between the various Greek societies present there.
During the day of events, Nursing Professor at Southern University, Dr. Cheryl Taylor, was honored as “Educator of the Year,” having Ashley Torres accept the award in her place. Dunbar, who will be succeeding Kenney as SGA, further expressed his appreciation for the event, “I definitely believe that SU as a whole system was represented very well, and I am excited to see what HBCU Day at the Capitol brings in the future.”