BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) concluded their 2023 HBCU Day at the Capitol by officially opening a new exhibit at the Capitol Park Museum celebrating their unique history and contributions to postsecondary education. HBCU presidents, legislators, student leaders, Regents, and management board officials were on hand for the festivities.
Louisiana’s six HBCUs – Dillard University, Grambling State University, Southern University and A&M College (including its Agricultural Research and Extension and Law Centers), Southern University at New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport, and the Xavier University of Louisiana – as well as the Southern University System, the only HBCU system in the country, join forces annually at this signature event during the Regular Legislative Session to spotlight campus successes and share their student culture and spirit.
“Partnering with Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Capitol Park Museum allows our HBCUs to share their talent development narrative and their significant state impact with a broad audience,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “Their historical journeys from serving as the sole educational option for minority students during segregation to their evolution into a first choice for students seeking unique academic programs combined with rich traditions and nurturing communities is certainly worthy of celebrating today.”
“Last September, we featured an exhibit at the Capitol Park Museum celebrating the decades of history and showmanship of the Fabulous Dancing Dolls – Southern University’s dance team. Louisiana’s HBCUs contribute so much to our state and are valuable economic engines. We are excited to partner with them so that all of our visitors can discover their rich history,” said Lieutenant Governor Nungesser.
Today’s launch marks the first phase of the Capitol Park Museum’s HBCU Exhibit, which includes archival photos, interpretive panels with campus highlights, and specifically curated artifacts, such as uniforms worn by band members and football teams. The exhibit occupies space on two floors and is easy to navigate by following floor stickers showing the way. A second phase of the exhibit is currently in the works, including video presentations and a broader build-out to display additional memorabilia, information, and photos.
Beginning with the first Black institutions of higher learning in the late 1860s, these colleges and universities not only educated African Americans during the era of segregation and beyond; they also nurtured civil rights activists who sought to create a better state for all Louisianians.
Members of the state’s HBCU Advisory Council, created during the 2018 Legislative Session to focus attention on the state’s HBCUs and strengthen their capacity, were also celebrated by the House of Representatives and Senate with resolutions recognizing their missions and successes. These achievements are helping to fulfill the goals of the Council, in collaboration with the Commissioner of Higher Education, to enhance the state’s HBCUs, strengthen their ability to participate in federal and state programs, and increase their partnerships with Louisiana’s workforce and economic development stakeholders.
Melissa Maranto, Communications Director
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