There are 105 historically black colleges and universities in the United States, out of nearly 5,000 colleges in total. These schools -- some of which were established before the Civil War -- carry on legacies of service and influence, with an aim to educate future African-American leaders.
In recent years, there has been discussion over whether or not HBCUs remain relevant. In a 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed, journalist Jason L. Riley wrote:
Black colleges are at a crossroads. At one time black colleges were an essential response to racism. They trained a generation of civil rights lawyers and activists who helped end segregation. Their place in U.S. history is secure. Today, however, dwindling enrollments and endowments indicate that fewer and fewer blacks believe that these schools, as currently constituted, represent the best available academic choice.
But others, like Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum, disagree. As she wrote on the Huffington Post last year:
The relevance and power of an HBCU education in which faculty expectations are high, peer support is strong, and role models are abundant is quantifiable and worthy of preserving and strengthening with investment. Black students who want to see themselves as not just one of a few who can succeed but rather one of many who seek and find that legacy of success and affirmation on an HBCU campus.
Here at HuffPost College, we asked current HBCU students to share what their schools meant to them. The response to this question was overwhelming. Many students said they were accepted to "predominantly white institutions," but chose instead HBCUs to connect to their past and present. Others said they sought the communities they found at HBCUs, or wanted to continue a family tradition of HBCU education.
Read on below for ten students' stories -- and if you have a story to share, please do so in the comments section.