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The Black College Mystique

reviewed by Monica Terrell Leach - September 06, 2006

coverTitle: The Black College Mystique
Author(s): Charles V. Willie, Richard J. Reddick, & Ronald Brown
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham
ISBN: 0742546179, Pages: 124, Year: 2006
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The Black College Mystique by Willie, Riddick and Brown is a book that can be useful for a variety of academics in the higher education community wishing to have a better understanding of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). The book reveals five secrets of success, which explain why HBCUs are true gems of higher education.  The goal of the book is to provide an overview of the accomplishments, challenges and possibilities for HBCUs.  The very beginning of the book tackles the many challenges HBCUs have addressed since their inception.  This book provides a wealth of historical and statistical information for readers to draw their own conclusion regarding the significant impact HBCUs have made. The book is outlined in four parts, which makes it very easy to follow.

In Part I of The Black College Mystique, written by Willie, Riddick and Brown, the authors address the perceptions, challenges, and potential of HBCUs based on data collected in the last 10 years.  The first section discusses the educational goals from an historical perspective as to why HBCUs have been vital entities to their communities, the state, and the country.  The book also outlines in great detail the significant contributions these universities make to close the educational gap for all students aspiring to pursue post-secondary education.  The open access policy used by most HBCUs provides a critical vehicle for those students who can not get admitted into highly selective, predominantly white institutions.  This policy expands the playing field for students of all races to pursue their dream of acquiring a college education. Also profiled in this section are HBCUs that have been very successful in educating students.

Part II of The Black College Mystique is a research study, which makes the case for HBCU’s institutional existence for all students.  It addresses the unique benefits HBCUs have offered over the years and why they still exist today.  Due to the growing racial and ethnic makeup of our country, the HBCUs will continue to flourish in providing a post-secondary education to everyone.  Even in the past, HBCUs have always been the most welcoming in recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty.  It is the faculty and student body which makes HBCUs the carriers of the diversity mantra significant to the goals and mission of these unique institutions. The literature and qualitative data reveals the impact of a diversified faculty on the student body.   

In Part III of The Black College Mystique, “Personal and Professional Characteristics of Presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” the authors challenge the age-old perception from the past that HBCU presidents were authoritarian figures.  The comprehensive overview of the personal and professional characteristics of presidents of HBCUs reveals these presidents to be just as committed to excellence as any other president of a non-HBCU.  Based on the findings, there were no significant differences between the presidents at HBCUs compared to their counterparts at Predominately White Institutions (PWI).  This section of book is extremely important in showing how, in spite of the limited endowments and lack of federal and state funding, these presidents continue to strive for the good of the students, faculty and community.

Part IV of The Black College Mystique is a summary of action strategies effectively reaffirming HBCU’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.  The study provides presidents and board members strategies to transform institutions to reach greater heights.  The different initiatives shared in the section help to redefine the mission of HBCUs in a framework that can be used in the twenty-first century at any institution of higher learning.   

In summary, the book provides an historical conceptual framework through which to understand the cultural significance of HBCUs.  This book dispels the public’s perception and provides a better understanding of what they are and why HBCUs exist.  It is a quick read, which provides an enormous amount of information about the historical development of HBCUs and where they are today.  The review of literature and quantitative data illustrates the significant contributions of HBCUs to people of every racial and ethnic population and also shares some of their pathways to success for the entire higher education community.  The Black College Mystique demystifies the future of HBCUs in a way for all readers to understand.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: September 06, 2006
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12700, Date Accessed: 5/27/2022 12:18:12 PM

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