What Are The Historically Black Colleges In Alabama?

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are important factors in the economic, educational and social improvement of members of the Black community. They were mostly established at the conclusion of the Civil War to give educational opportunities to newly-freed slaves They include both private and public educational institutions that offer two-year and four-year degrees. Alabama has more HBCUs than any other state in the United States. Here we will see about What Are The Historically Black Colleges In Alabama?

There are 13 HBCUs located in Alabama. Eight of them are four-year institutions while there are six two-year colleges. Four-year HBCU in Alabama include such schools as Oakwood University, Miles College, Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University and Selma University. Two-year HBCUs are the H. Councill Trenholm State Community College, the Shelton State Community College, the Lawson State Community College, the Bishop State Community College, the J. F. Drake State Community and Technical College and the Gadsden State Community College.

What Are The Historically Black Colleges In Alabama?

Historically Black 4- Year Colleges In Alabama

Alabama A&M University:

Alabama A&M University, the other public university was initially established as the Huntsville Normal School in 1875. Its aim was to instruct teachers. However, after the Moririll Act of 1890, a new name and location were suggested. The institution was relocated to Normal in Madison County and called the State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes. In 1969, the school was granted university status.

Alabama State University:

This is the first black university to have been established in the state of Alabama. It came to fruition through the efforts of nine former slaves in 1867, initially as a private institution. A year later, the school was designated as a state teaching institution, receiving funding from the state. After numerous name changes, the school relocated to Montgomery in 1887. The school was essential in deescalating racial tensions in the ‘50s and the ‘60s. It was renamed Alabama State University in 1969 and it currently enrolls over 5,00 students, offering over 40 degree programs.

Miles College:

Miles College is one of the few four-year private educational institutions that are designated as a United Negro College Fund institution. The school is associated with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church which founded it in 1905. Even as it promoted the uplifting of the black community, Miles college has always had a good relationship with communities around it. It is generally considered one of the most competitive HBCUs in the United States due to high graduation rates.

Oakwood University:

Oakwood University was founded in 1896 by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church on land which was formerly a plantation. The school was earlier known as the Oakwood Manual Training School due to the focus its curriculum had on industrial education. However, in 1944, Oakwood shifted their focus onto liberal arts and began offering bachelor’s degrees which then made the institution ne renamed to Oakwood University.

Selma University:

Selma University was founded as the Alabama Baptist Normal and Theological School in 1878 by the Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention. Its focus was on training teachers and education of ministers. Although most black colleges were led by whites, Selma University had the distinction of having an African American president starting from 1881. Many of its students participated in the famous march led by Martin Luther King Jr. across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The university has courses which focus on liberal arts.

Stillman College:

Stillman College is a relatively small non-profit HBCU situated in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The school was founded in 1876 and currently offers bachelor’s degrees in over 10 programs.

Talladega University:

Talladega University was founded by two freedmen: Thomas Tarrant and William Savery in 1869. The school is linked to the Swayne School which was established two years prior by both Tarrant and Savery and was named after Wager T. Swayne, an assistant commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau. It is Alabama’s oldest private black college. The university is associated with the United Church of Christ and has an enviable track record of placing its alumni in prestigious graduate and professional programs across the country. Currently, over 1,500 students are enrolled in Talladega University.

Tuskegee University:

Tuskegee University is perhaps the most well-known black university in Alabama. It was founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881 with the institution moving to an abandoned plantation, where it has stayed since.

Community Colleges in Alabama:

Community colleges which are located in Alabama are:

H. Councill Trenholm State Community College 

Shelton State Community College:

Shelton State Community College operates an open-admission community college with a goal to provide post-secondary education that would be accessible to all. Majors in behavioral sciences, fine arts, business/computer science, health/wellness and humanities are offered.

Lawson State Community College:

With a multi-campus, Lawson State Community College seeks to provide adequate opportunities to accessible education. Majors offered include business, health and physical education, humanities and mathematics and engineering.

Bishop State Community College:

With courses in social sciences, business, health-related professions, humanities, commercial and industrial technology and engineering/construction, Bishop State Community College offers to attend to the needs of each student and the community at large.

J. F. Drake State Community and Technical College:

Located in Huntsville, J. F. Drake State Community and Technical College affords North Alabamans technical training with flexible schedules at a moderate cost. The college aims to avail students the opportunity to enrich the intellectual, economic and cultural facets of their lives.

Gadsden State Community College:

Gadsden State Community College offers courses in accounting technology, criminal justice, network administration, graphic design, physical education and mathematics. 


Each of the Historically Black Colleges located in Alabama contribute to the education of the citizenry as well as the development of the economic status of the state. They each have their unique characteristics and strengths but they are all united by a common history, one that has been built upon uplifting the African American and the community as a whole. HBCUs in Alabama have also served as the schools of notable figures in American history such as Ralph Ellison, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, singer Lionel Richie and the first African American mayor of Birmingham, Richard Arrington.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does one need to be of African American descent before attending a HBCU?

No. This is not a requirement to attend an HBCU or any other college/university. In fact, some schools have seen the population of their non-African American students rise in recent years such as Morgan State University. In most HBCUs however, African American students still make up the large chunk of students. However, most schools are now taking steps to make sure HBCUs are more diverse.

Why are HBCUs important?

HBCUs were initially founded to offer freed slaves and their ancestors the opportunity to gain some education and thus work toward building a career. Nowadays, they are responsible for supplying African Americans with much needed experience to assist them in becoming an integral part of their communities and culture.

How many HBCUs exist in the country?

The number of HBCUs in the U.S as at 2020 was put at 107. 56 of them are private while the rest are public. The schools have a total enrollment of over 200,000 students. The state of Alabama currently has the most HBCUs. 

What are some of the top-ranked HBCUs?

Spelman College, Howard University and Hampton University are currently regarded as not just the best HBCUs in the but some of the best higher education institutions in the country.