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This school is the whitest HBCU in America

April Taylor

It seems like a common sense conclusion to assume that the student bodies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) mainly consist of African American students.  However there are some HBCU’s where African Americans comprise a minority of the student population.  NPR recently reported on one such school, Bluefield State College.

Shockingly, Bluefield State College’s student body is 90 percent white.  Located in Bluefield, West Virginia, the school is part of West Virginia’s public education system and was founded in 1895 as Bluefield Colored Institute.  At that time, the school served as a black high school.  Many of the student’s parents migrated to West Virginia to work in the coal industry.

In the 1920’s the school became known as Bluefield Institute.  The school became a launching pad in the creation of the region’s black middle class.  Bluefield became fully accredited in 1954.  After the Supreme Court’s  Brown v. Board of Education decision, Bluefield’s student population began to change because black students were able to choose from a wider range of options for their education.

The mining industry in the area also began to evolve with the introduction of new technology which caused many families to look for work elsewhere.  This coupled with the return of white veterans from the Korean War who were able to use the GI Bill to attend school instigated a transformation of the racial make up of the school’s students.

The 60s brought many changes.  The student population at Bluefield was now nearly half white, and in 1966, the state chose the school’s first white president, Wendell G. Hardaway.  Hardaway soon hired 23 new faculty members who were all white, and the school’s dedicated faculty dropped to just 30 percent black by 1967.

The next two years brought lots of turmoil with students staging a protest against Hardaway’s discriminatory treatment of black faculty and students.  Tensions also rose with the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy leading to death threats against administrators and a list of demands being delivered to president Hardaway.

Students continued to protest against what they felt amounted to “mental genocide” and “the educational extermination of the black student.”  Things soon became even more tense when dorms on the campus were closed in response to a bombing at the school’s gymnasium.  The dorms remained closed, and this was the final step in the two decade journey of Bluefield going from an all black college to a nearly all white commuter school.

To this day, there are several lawsuits filed by former administrators, accusing the school of racial discrimination.  This leads many to wonder if the school should still be classified as an HBCU.

The intersection of Bluefield’s past and present is an interesting one.  The schools alumni association is all black and has never had a white member.  Homecoming events no longer reflect the make up of the student body as most who attend are black even though the school has been majority white for decades.



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43 thoughts on “This school is the whitest HBCU in America

  1. Ruby Bailey

    It appears that the school was willingly given over to Whites. What kind of outcome did the university expect when it made the decision to hire a white president of a black university?

    • JMcD

      The decision to hire a white president would have been sanctioned by the WV governor and state legislature since it is a state school.

    • Bennie Harris

      So true anything that makes money and I’d black will eventually catch the interest of the whiteman and for them to turn it over to them suggest they who were running thing back in the 60’s lacked vision and drive! Just like the music industry today and historically have robbed US so will anything else we give control to the whiteman will do the same.

    • berdell

      You are so right!!
      My mom ,her brothers,and thier motr gradu from WVSU .
      my uncle 35ya,My sister andI went to visit revey Sume whilenwe were growing up.
      Year ater when went for his memrorial saervie there I id ot beleve how Saff nad student body had changed and di not reflect the histoyr Arican rica =Ameican cuure that we had known and l oved.

  2. Arneader

    My son is a junior at Jackson State University in Jackson, MS and there are so many white students on campus compared to the handful when I attended in 1980 – 1985

  3. catlyn

    Blank stare…I guess our people stopped supporting our own because of the negative rap HBCUs get…..but if there are more non blacks going. Perhaps they will soon consider this school top notch…lol same thing that happens when non blacks move into the hood …property value sky rockets…..yet I thought we where equal….

  4. charleschuckberry

    Why would white folks choose to attend an HBCU? Especially when some don’t even acknowledge us as aspiring people. I never understood this practice.

  5. Dorothy

    Question(s): Do HBCU’s receive special funding designated for schools of this status? If so, do this mean that this ‘White’ HBCU is still receiving the funds even though it no longer meets the needs of the under served community?

  6. A. G.

    Due to the choices we have today, we as Blacks may choose to attend higher education where ever we desire, and so may Whites. Often times the choice is made due to what we plan on getting into after we leave school.

    • Elyria Zuniga

      Here we go again. We need to realize the historical significance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and why they came into existence. We have a culture and it is truly reflected in HBCUs. The Professors are predominantly African American and thus have a unique perspective on the learning styles of African Americans. Moreover, they serve as role and motivational models. My undergraduate education was obtained from an HBCU (Dillard University). I never once questioned the motives nor sincerity of any professor; most of whom obtained their undergraduate degree from Dillard University. I later obtained by graduate degrees from University of Wisconsin (Madison) and the University of New Orleans. Surely, I questioned the sincerity of some of my Graduate school professors. However, I was fully developed and their motives did not affect me. During my formative years, I truly appreciated the psychological, intellectual and sociological developmental skills enhanced during my undergraduate education. These skills contributed to my graduate school success. We need HBCUs to further our community development, without these schools, we are destined to fail.

      Trust me, there are more than enough schools to educate white people. We need to focus on educating African Americans who are not historically privileged. University of Michigan claims that they do not want to use race as criteria for admission yet > than 95% of its population is White. GO FIGURE!

      • Fred Crochen

        Elyria Zuniga,

        Excellent Commentary. My perception on my professors during my HBCU undergraduate experience is identical to yours.

        Fred Crochen
        Dillard University
        Class of 1987″

      • james

        At Michigan we didn’t have the grades to get in with out special consideration. (Mostly)

        White go to HBCU’s because of cost which is lower and location, WV is very rural and the whole population is poor. There are not many B ll acks in W V and those that are, are trying to get out. Itsr better that the school is open with larger numbers of white students than closed with no students.

        Perhaps the Black schools can not survive with only blackl students, maybe because we can choose where we go to school the numbers are not great enough to keep the school viable with out the white students! I don’t see this as a problem.

  7. C. Leon Bynum Jr

    Free minds make free Choices, and that what has to be cleared up first, and foremost. The opportunity to integrate/assimilate is easy to understand if we’ve always been taught to view ourselves as Inferior!!! My H.S (Twin City) had teachers who would have been College Professors, if they had equal opportunity to work in their field of expertise. Of course, they could not work in South Carolina, or any other Southern Schools, or maybe anywhere, because they were Black (Colored/Negro), and of course, Inferior!!! All HBCU’s came into existence by PERMISSION, and we know who gave THAT Permission, and Why(?) Being unconscious about Who we are, Where we’re from, Where we are(?) leads to many other questions, and answers are hard to find/establish. Real Knowledge is Never acquired by osmosis, and will never be achieved if the Will to learn (outside the box) is found to be acceptable. We’re inside that Box now, and integration/assimilation is much More acceptable by the Majority of African American’s(?) Lets hear it for those HBCU’s , past and present lol

  8. Leon Stewart

    I thought it was common knowledge that that some of our HBCU have went White.. This info was pub.ished about 10 years ago. In that geographic area West Virginia State is another, but there are several others.

  9. David bridges

    Black people are always thinking that “the White man’s ice is colder”, so they ended up losing one of their very own institutions. It serves black people right in a way. What I really find funny about black people is that they force themselves into white neighborhoods and institutions of higher learning and get treated badly and pay more money for the “privilege” of being in an integrated place. I guess being the low man on the totem pole in a white-dominated place (be it neighborhood, work place, church or institution of learning) is better than being at the top of a black dominated environment. Sort of like how for > 70 % of black women a bad imitation of a white woman’s hair texture through a perm or weave is better than their own natural hair as it grows out of their scalps.

    • MOZIAH

      i can understand what you’re saying @ David
      Bridges. it reminds me of Jack Johnson the first Black(Negro) Heavyweight boxer. of course he fought most and a lot of white boxers, money and the prestige of knowing he could beat any of them at any time and other political and personal motives behind it(such as having a white woman as a wife and throwing it in their faces) yet he hardly fought any other blacks because he knew they were on par of the same fighting skill level as him or even better. so he could either be on top of the totem pole in the white world or just be another person or near the bottom fighting for the top position in the Black(Negro) community. and i’m not saying whites are better but it seems (from my own experience) when I’ve worked for a negro establishment, they always want to pay me low wages or at least the minimum wage, but if i worked the same job for a same size white establishment i’d get more money and probably benefits. and was appreciated more. now go figure with that. our people still have that slave inferior mentality. i’m a business owner and those of color always want to sham on work and do a half ass job , now if i have some Hispanics or whites from the same background(ex felons) you’re already know where i’m going with this. that’s y i mostly have family working with me and or those who truly want a job. you’d think someone who was released from prison for the umpteenth time would want a legal job to appease parole especially when you’re only making from the state no more than $7-10 a week at the minimum level . the most anyone would make at the highest level that the state pays in New York prisons is close to $50 and they have no complaints doing this but won’t want to work a job where u have benefits and the weekends off as a option.
      As PE( Public Enemy) says, ” every brother ain’t a brother, just because the color of their skin…the hand of a nig.. that pulled the trigger on Malcolm X the man… as much as knowledge and wisdom that’s out there, we are still playing the ignorant fool.

  10. SYLVIA

    I think its because of cheaper education that whites are going to this school. We might as well step up to the plate , lots of white will be enrolling in these schools because education is so expensive.


    The sad thing about all of the above is that we Black people have not learned to be Black and be comfortable in our own skin, and environment. It has been beaten, taught, trained, into each and every one of us, that whatever we do, it’s not good enough unless “they” sign off and say it is. After the Civil War, for a sort time Black people WERE truly free, for a while. They built their own schools, had their own stock markets, businesses, etc, etc. Many got very rich and powerful in their part of the country – mostly the South. But the Ssurthern whites killed, burned them off their land and/or drove them to the North.

    And then, Lincoln got assassinated. – and the world for Black Folks was forever changed.

    Lincoln was not a lover of Black folks. He heard and told many stories about Blacks, and believed they were intellectually inferior. and their minds couldn’t develop higher than that of a little kid. All of his relationships were with whites. Even so, he did what he had to do

    The War was not going well, and it looked like neither North nor South could sustain any momentum to win. When the War began, Blacks actually out-numbered the whites in the South. (In fact, Thomas Jefferson would not have been elected President was it not for the large number of Slaves he owned. Of course Blacks could not vote, But there was a clause in the Constitution that allowed Jefferson to add one vote for every three Slaves he owned. And those votes were enough to give him the Presidency – and that was without counting his Negress Mistress who bore him several children.)

    So, Lincoln felt trapped in an endless war, and had no idea how to end it . O’l Abe, after much soul searching, put two and two together and came up with a WIN: 1) If he freed the Slaves. estimated conservatively at three to five million, he would destroy the South, financially, since Slaves were PROPERTY. And . since Slaves were the most valuable property in the South. when they walked off the Plantations, The South was BROKE, and had no way to finance the WAR.

    And, even better than that, somewhere between one-half million, and three-quarter of a million, joined the Union Army. The War was WON!!

    But, Lincoln did not live long enough to enjoy his victory. On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.

    Booth was part of a conspiracy to kidnap key figures of Lincoln’s Cabine, hols hem for ransom, for the resuming of prisoner exchange, and thus continue the war.

    Instead, Vice-President Andrew Johnson, a Southerner, took over, and re-enslaved the Black people by creating the JIM CROW system. And we all are still fighting that battle all over this country.

  12. Sister Black

    Integration was the biggest trick that Satan used on us. It really lead to our Destruction.We abandoned our clean, beautiful businesses for white folks businesses. Brothers and Sisters, it hasn’t ended, integration continues today, you are still being tricked into believing in this so-call “Amerikkan Dream” in which is really “THE AMERIKKKAN NIGHTMARE”!!! Separation is a Must Brother & Sisters It is not going to get any better, Go to http://www.Economic to support the Muhammad”s Economic Blueprint We need Land to separate from our enemy. We need to discontinue supporting companies and industries of people who truly don’t like us. They will not stop killing our children, they will not stop locking our children up, they have taken all of your parental rights away as parents,No need to continue looking for a job, there is No Jobs!! We must produce our own Food, Clothing, Housing, Industries, and Jobs(If you are not too lazy) This is the end of Amerikkka having power, and influence over anyone….except it’s Negro. Black PEOPLE, WE SPENT Trillions of dollars last year, so that makes us a Nation within A Nation. It is truly time for separation from this mistreatment. Amerikkka is losing all over the world, she is over in Afrika trying to convince our Afrikan leaders to do business with them,however China and Russia has that continent sewed up, and Amerikkka is angry!!! So guess who she is going to take her frustration out on…. her once poor slave. What Donald Sterlings said and what Zimmerman did will be like child’s play compare to what’s coming. For further information please contact Sister [email protected] [email protected]

  13. The Rev. Dr. Donald Ray Jenkins

    Given the chance, white people will take over and control any black entity they feel is worth having. Then they will deny blacks opportunities at these same entities.

    • MOZIAH

      hey Rev. if the white establishment is looking to take over a Negro business, that means most of the time, that business or establishment is doing something correct and we(they) should look at it as a compliment and either keep or sell for the highest bid and move on and develop something better . that’s how a business person would and should do. look at Beats headphones and Vitamin & Def Jam music ,water. they could have waited or kept it but whose to say they wouldn’t have lost money. Some things are more important than money but when certain groups don’t have the finances we need to reach out to other groups such as Indians(from India) or Middle Easter Muslims, Christians or Hebrews and other Asians, Hispanics, Africans and Native Americans. We too bush going to the other man, which is nothing wrong with that. and if they don’t want to work with us then time to find like minded people. it can be done, it didn’t stop Jim Brown or Russel Simmons or Oprah and or Bill Crosby and Earl Graves and Bob Johnson. so sacrifice is going to have to be made.

  14. sandra mack

    To David Bridges…W
    Who spends millions of dollars at tanning salons to turn their skin a “healthy brown color”; who spends millions of dollars to enhance their butts and get their lips made larger? Need I say more….Anyway, the issue is about Bluefield State receiving millions of dollars as a HBCU when it should not be considered currently as such. It is my understanding that the president of Bluefield stated that since he can get the money, he would continue to do so. This is a sad state of affairs, but can’t we all just get along and try to become educated, no matter what color we are. We are all humankind; God’s children.

  15. Nick

    Why is race such an issue? Who cares. I understand everyone needs to know who they are and where they came from. It’s important to learn ones culture but that starts at home first and foremost.

  16. Joyce

    This is such old news, as a member of UNCF many of us have voice outrage. he residents in this city do not rent to Black students. Because of when the university was established in the 1800’s it is hard to make the correction.

    Personally, it is the fault of ALL Black/African American for NOT sending their children to HBCU’s thinking they [children] would receive a substandard education; however, Caucasians think the opposite, Black educators are often better.

  17. Joyce

    Read this article: Grambling family sets world record for the most graduates from one university.

    Think about it people, why was it against the law for Blacks to read & write? We were enslave, but NEVER A SLAVE!

  18. Trina Parker

    White people attend HBCU’s because they are considered a minority and will receive a minority scholarship.

    • berdell

      You really show your ignorganc,Many brillan Black scholas includuing my mother wet to n HBu with no sclarsip an exled!!
      Your limited mind is dangerous.

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  20. Todd

    First of all, sadly, many HBCU’s have poorly ran Administrations. They tend to hire unqualified individuals to lead key areas in the University; failing to realize that it diminishes the quality of the University and students who support or give back. {I’ve heard the horror stories from many of my peers who attend HBCU’s that currently have this challenge).

    Secondly, African Americans who attend HBCU’s need to go to school to get an education and not just get away from home. As a White man I wanted to experience what it would be like to attend an HBCU, so I took a couple classes for one semester and to my dismay I was very disappointed with many of the students attending. Many of the Black students were unprepared for college, or they just didn’t fully apply themselves in class. (They talked, loudly chewed gum, walked endlessly in and out of class, and in some cases dressed inappropriately for class. (it almost seemed like HS and not college). Furthermore, it seemed that either the White students or foreign students (Africans) were desiring to be the best students in the class. You would think that African or Black Americans would had wanted that as their goal.

    As a White man who believes in all cultures and ethnics groups, I must stress to the Black community stop blaming others for many of your challenges. If HBCU’s would hire better qualified Administrators and admit better students you would not see as you say “White takeover” in HBCU’s.

    • Elyria Hester

      You are Uniformed, you have no facts to support. your statements about HBCUs. I guess your perceived privilege leads you to believe that you do not need facts. You are mistaken.
      Think about this, if someone killed your family member, would you so easily stop blaming them or stop insisting that reparations be made for that murder. No is the honest answer tio that question.

  21. Mechelle

    Please if you can help support Hatti. It is dominated and historical by Black folk for years. Not is have no third counties support. Damn. Look up this or watch the documentary about the “Black in Latin America by Henry Gates Jr. on Netflix. This sad but truly. I definitely learned and how disguised about USA $1 billions to buy for White Eurpeon and Spain ppls to immigrants to Cuba to removes Black African ppls out in Cuba. Damn. Based on true history.

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  23. Aiessante

    The totally nonsensical articles that are allowed to be printed are so counterproductive to the Black community its hard to fathom at times but knowing how easy it is to light up its members with all the inequities and unjustices makes it so interesting genrating the bitching and moaniing but what is accomplished? Nothing these so called leaders such as Dr Boyce laugh all the way to the bank as nothing more than useless rabble rousers stop the ridiculousness and start leading Now!!!

  24. Timothy Lusk

    I am a proud graduate of Bsc. I attended a high school just down the road that was 50% white and 50% black. Integration was the vest thing that ever happened in this country. Rascism is evil and from the responses on this post it runs both ways. Bsc student body rereflects the demographics of southern wv az it should. My children were taught to judge others by their character and not the color of their skin. Looks like a fews folks on here havent learned that lesson


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