Today, 24 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) offer baccalaureate-level nursing programs. During the first half of the 20th century—and in some cases, even earlier—HBCU nursing schools provided a gateway into the profession for generations of African Americans nurses who had no other educational options. But when the Supreme Court struck down racial segregation in its Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, some people predicted that HBCUs would fade away.

After all, the nation’s 104 official HBCUs were founded because African Americans were not allowed entry into white-run colleges and universities. But when the doors to white institutions were thrown open and integration became the law of the land, some people asked: Why would black college students still want to attend historically black schools when they now have the freedom to enroll in majority schools? Are HBCUs even necessary anymore?

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