8 HBCU Dance Teams That Steal the Half-Time Show

by Faith Dawson

While most colleges and universities have dance teams, dance troupes take on a whole different meaning at HBCUs. These dance troupes are fiercely competitive, the tryout process is intense, and when you see their performances, you understand the amount of hard work and talent that it takes. Today’s Monday Morning MSI Line Up features 8 HBCU dance teams that always steal the half-time show!

1) Prancing J- Settes – Jackson State University



Jackson State University’s “Prancing J-Settes” have a rich history: this team originated its own style of dance! Not many college dance teams can say that. In fact, “J-setting” is a verb that can be found on Wikipedia. This team has even performed for some professional sports teams like the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals.


2) Diamond Dancers – Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU)

diamond dancers famu

Visit a Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University sporting event and you’ll see the Diamonds of FAMU dancing along with the marching band!


3) Black Foxes – Prairie View A&M University


If you’re interested in auditioning for the Black Foxes, you better be able to Chasse and Pas de Bourree (dance moves). This dance team at Praire View A&M University has a very intense audition process!


4) Mahogany n’ Motion – Morehouse College


Just because Morehouse is an all-male school doesn’t mean they don’t have a dance team! Mahogany n Motion is supported by ladies of Spelman College. Dancers on this team must maintain a 2.8GPA or above. This team also does more than dance; you can find them giving back to their communities in the Atlanta area.


5) Sophisticated Ladies – Tennessee State University

tsu ladies

This Tennessee State University dance line has members that pride themselves on “passion, dedication, and heart for [the] team, [the] university and dance.” At TSU you’ll find them at basketball and football games, Bands of America, Honda Battle of the Bands, and other on-campus events.


6) Ladies of R.A.G.E. – Fisk University


As the premier dance line at Fisk University, members of this team seek to perform and uphold the character set forth by the group’s name, which stands for of Rhythm, Agility, Grace, and Essence.


7) Ooh La La! – Howard University

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If you’ve been to a Howard University sporting event, you’ve seen the Ooh La La! girls cheering on the teams with their fiery dance moves and precision.


8) Ebony Fire – Hampton University

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Hampton University’s team, Ebony Fire, danced for President Obama’s inaugural parade in Washington, D.C. If you thought the time commitment for an HBCU dance team was slight, think again! Ebony Fire practices Monday-Friday from 5pm- until they’re done.

5 HBCUs with LGBTQIA Support Initiatives

by DeShaun Bennett

It is essential for institutions of higher education to provide safe and inclusive spaces to all of their students. Rooted in their historical tradition of being trailblazers in the fight for social justice, below are 5 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that are leading the initiative to support LGBTQIA students and their allies by creating safe space support initiatives and centers.

1) Bowie State University: Gender and Sexual Diversities Resource Center


Bowie State University became the 1st HBCU to open a center–the Gender and Sexual Diversities Resource Center–to support LGBTQIA students and their allies. The mission of the Gender and Sexual Diversities Resource Center is to foster an environment that is open, safe, and inclusive for people of all sexualities and gender identities. The Center works with students, faculty, and staff to increase awareness of LGBTQIA individuals and to reduce discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Center also collaborates with other organizations on campus to develop activities, workshops, and programs used to raise campus awareness about LGBT concerns.

2) Morehouse College: History and Culture of Black LGBT


In the spring of 2013, Morehouse College, America’s only All-Male HBCU, offered its first course on the black LGBT community through the department of Sociology. Dr. Jafari Allen, a Morehouse alumnus and Associate Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology at Yale University, taught “History and Culture of Black LGBT.” The course covered topics like Black feminism and critical cultural theory and methodology. It was described as “an interdisciplinary survey of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) culture and politics.” The course was offered due to the help of Dr. Michael Hodge, Associate Provost for Faculty Research, Scholarship, and Creative Production, and members of Morehouse’s gay-straight alliance/student advocacy organization, SafeSpace. SafeSpace has also offered several campus forums and programs to discuss issues that are facing the Black gay community.

3) North Carolina Central University: LGBTA Resource Center 


North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is the 2nd HBCU to open a LGBTA resource center. The LGBTA Resource Center provides opportunities for engagement in personal and leadership development through a variety of student organizations and initiatives. NCCU has 3 major LGBT programs and initiatives: Creating Open Lives and Organizing for Real Success (COLORS), The Lavender Project, and LGBTA Resource Center Ambassadors. The purpose of COLORS is to foster an active and diverse culture at NCCU. COLORS provide opportunities for students to build friendships, while also encouraging open-mindedness, dialogue, and diversity within the community. The Lavender Project offers Safe Zone Training in order to fulfill its promise in making the campus a safe place for all. Resource Center Ambassadors coordinate and assist the LGBTA Coordinator with efforts in planning and implementation of educational, inter-cultural, social, and leadership development programs pertaining to LGBTQ culture and intersectionality.

4) Spelman College: LGBT Faculty Curriculum Committee


Spelman College, the #1 ranked HBCU by U.S. News, is leading the initiative to support LGBT students and their allies by establishing a LGBT Faculty Curriculum Committee. Spelman’s Women’s Research and Resource Center which houses the LGBT Faculty Curriculum Committee has been responsible for educating and empowering lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender students to find their voice and a safe space on HBCU campuses. Back in April 2011, the Women’s Research and Resource Center hosted a historic summit, “Facilitating Campus Climates of Pluralism, Inclusivity, and Progressive Change at HBCUs,” to examine institutional climate issues around diversity, inclusion, gender, and sexuality at HBCUs, the first time a range of HBCUs convened to engage in dialogue about LGBT issues on HBCU campuses.

5) Fayetteville State University: Safezone Office


Fayetteville State University is the 3rd HBCU to open a LGBT office. The purpose of the Safezone Program at Fayetteville State University is to create an affirming and supportive campus climate through identifying and educating members of its campus community who are open to and supportive of all individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The program also raises the cultural competence of Faculty/Staff at the University to include more knowledge of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning population; provides assistance to an often marginalized student group through visible support; educates the student population on the issues and concerns facing the LGBTQ community; refers students to appropriate campus and non-campus resources for issues and concerns; and retains LGBTQ students at the University through assistance and visible support.

The Nation’s First 10 Established HBCUs

In recognition of Black History Month, this week’s Monday Morning MSI Line Up honors the first ten established HBCUs.

1) Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

The first and oldest HBCU, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1837. Philanthropist Richard Humphreys donated money to create this institution specifically for black students because he witnessed the struggles and challenges that they were facing. Today Cheyney represents students from all races, cultures, and nationalities entering various career fields.

2) University of the District of Columbia


The University of the District of Columbia was founded in 1851. It is the only public university in our nation’s capital and the only land grant university in the United States.

3) Lincoln University of Pennsylvania


Formally known as Ashmun Institute, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania is the first degree granting HBCU in the nation to provide arts and sciences for black males. In 1866 the institution was later renamed Lincoln University to honor President Abraham Lincoln. Just within its first 100 years, Lincoln University graduated an estimate of 20 percent of black physicians and more than 10 percent black attorneys in the nation.

4) Wilberforce University

Wilberforce University was founded in 1856 long before the Civil War. It is the nation’s oldest private HBCU and the first to be owned and run by African Americans.

5) Harris Stowe State University

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Founded in 1857,  Harris Stowe State University is the first public teacher education institution just west of the Mississippi River. The university continues to prepare students to become educators with their various teacher education programs.

6) LeMoyne-Owen College


LeMoyne College and Owen College merged together in 1968 to better serve black students in the Mid-South. Both colleges shared similar values and better reinforced the purpose to combining a liberal arts education with career training. Together as one, LeMoyne-Owen College aims to provide an excellent liberal arts education for their students.

7) Virginia Union University

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Founded in 1865, Virginia Union University provided newly emancipated enslaved blacks the opportunity for an education. The four institution; Richmond Theological Seminary, Wayland Seminary, Hartshorn Memorial College, and Storer College, merged together as VUU. Today it offers students educational opportunities advancement with a commitment to excellence and diversity.

8) Bowie State University


Bowie State University was founded in 1865. It is the oldest HBCU in Maryland providing a high quality and affordable education for their students.

9) Clark University

Clark Atlanta
Clark Atlanta University is a merger of Atlanta University, the first graduate school established for blacks and Clark College, the first four-year liberal arts institution to serve predominantly black students. Today Clark Atlanta is one of the nation’s leading research institutions offering degrees from bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels.

10) Shaw University


Shaw University is the first HBCU in the south. This private liberal arts institution is the first college in North Carolina to offer a four-year medical school and the first to open its doors to women.

8 HBCUs that Give Back to Their Communities

HBCUs serve a vital role in their surrounding communities, from providing academic opportunities to promoting the health of the community’s denizens. Because February is Black History Month, we would like to celebrate some of the HBCUs that have given back to strengthen their neighboring Black communities.

1. Gadsden State Community College


Gadsden State Community College provides community members the opportunity to take free GED classes on campus for students to increase their job prospects while providing them the skills needed to pursue a higher education. The GED classes provide additional tutoring for community members who have another native tongue other than English and provide classes at different times throughout the week to meet the various times of availability of the community members.

2. JF Drake State Technical College


JF Drake State Technical College has a division, the Workforce Development Division, which focuses on giving members of the community knowledge of multiple careers and essential skills sought after by different industries. The Workforce Development Division is divided into four components: Tech Prep, Training for Existing Business and Industry, Continuing Education, and Adult Education. To meet the demands of the continuously evolving work sector, JF Drake State Technical College focuses on these four components because they have become more instrumental in the business world.

3. Southern University at Shreveport, Louisiana


Southern University at Shreveport, Louisiana also focuses on providing the surrounding community with skills to continue developing  the economy of the community. SUSLA provides many classes on Adult Literacy, Community Education, Corporate Training, Homebuyer Education, Small Business Development, Workforce Training, and Youth Services initiatives through its Division of Community and Workforce Development (CWD).

4.Fort Valley State University

To promote HIV/AIDS awareness in the neighboring communities, Fort Valley held a two-day event where community members were welcomed to attend. The two-day event provided HIV testing for free and provided knowledge about HIV/AIDS. A seminar was also facilitated in the two-day event.

5. Spelman College


With the role of social media now serving as a way to connect different communities together, Spelman College, specifically the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) at Spelman, decided to use social media to also provide information about HIV/AIDS to the neighboring communities.

6. Huston-Tillotson University


For the community, Huston-Tillotson University decided to facilitate environmentally friendly approaches to increase the well-being of the neighboring community. Huston-Tilllotson, as a part of their Green is the New Black student group, has established community garden to foster organic food alternatives for the community. Additionally, Green is the New Black has hosted environmental awareness events and a “Building Green Justice Forum” for the community.

7. Elizabeth City State University


Elizabeth City State University is also helping the surrounding communities with a green approach. The university has begun installing energy-efficient light bulbs throughout the community to help them save energy. Slowly, the surrounding communities will become officially environmentally friendly.

8. Texas Southern University


At Texas Southern University, students have given back to the community by providing knowledge about the history of African-Americans to change the perception people in the community have of their own history. The students have facilitated   bi-monthly Black history classes to students in the local public school system to empower them by increase Black consciousness and self-awareness.

13 HBCUs that Played Pivotal Roles in the Civil Rights Movement

By Melanie Wolff

Historically Black Colleges and Universities were an inevitable focal point in the Civil Rights Movement. These institutions were crucial in producing some of the movement’s most influential leaders – Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Diane Nash, and Stokely Carmichael, just to name a few. Not only did they provide education, but they also provided a space within which students could be activists. HBCUs were “institutions of solidarity” during this time period, withstanding pressures from their state and local governments in fighting for their equal rights. An article by Joy Ann Williamson tackles the subject of institutional autonomy enjoyed by private HBCUs in particular. To her, while this made their financial situation a balancing act at best, it allowed them to hold to their mission and commitment to freedom for the students they served.

Below is a list of 13 HBCUs who worked hard to focus their efforts on ensuring equal rights to their students.

1. The Founding of SNCC: Shaw University


Shaw University, a private HBCU in North Carolina, hosted a conference in 1960 to organize a sit-in movement. This was organized by Ella Baker, a female undergraduate at the time. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) grew out of that conference, enabling students at HBCUs across the South to create a coordinated protest against segregation.  SNCC went on to play enormous roles in sit-ins, freedom rides, the 1963 March on Washington, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and more.

Source: “‘This Has Been Quite a Year for Heads Falling'”: Institutional Autonomy in the Civil Rights Era” by Joy Ann Williamson, pg. 558.

2. Supporting the Freedom Riders: Xavier University of Louisiana


On May 15, 1961, Freedom Riders were travelling from Washington, D.C. to Anniston, Alabama. En route, their car was firebombed by white segregationists. They ended up taking a plane to New Orleans to plan their next move. Thanks to Xavier University of Louisiana’s Norman Francis, the school’s dean of male students at the time and president years later, the students were able to stay in Xavier’s dorms. They did this despite the very strong possibility of violence erupting and retaliation.

3. The Greensboro Four: North Carolina A&T


In February 1960, four students from North Carolina Agriculture and Technical College, a public HBCU, staged a sit-in at the local Woolworth store to protest segregation and discrimination in eating establishments. This led other HBCUs across the country to follow their example.

4. Reigniting direct action protests in Mississippi: Tougaloo University


In its early days, the state of Mississippi discontinued funding to Tougaloo because they opened a teacher training school for anyone regardless of race. In March of 1961, the “Tougaloo Nine” attempted to integrate the largest library in Jackson, Mississippi and were jailed for 36 hours. This protest can be seen as a spark that led many more young African Americans in Jackson to become involved in the movement, with more planned assaults on segregation continuing between 1961 and 1964. According to one source, Tougaloo served as a meeting ground to plan many of these direct-action attacks. The institution itself “welcomed Freedom Riders, hosted civil rights conferences and planning sessions, and sponsored a work-study program through which SNCC workers earned college credit.”

Source: “African American Women at Historically Black Colleges during the Civil Rights Movement” by Eddie Cole, pg. 26; “‘This Has Been Quite a Year for Heads Falling'”: Institutional Autonomy in the Civil Rights Era” by Joy Ann Williamson, pg. 560.

5. Florida A&M University


Two FAMU students, Patricia and Priscilla Stevens, attended a Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) workshop on sit-in tactics in 1959, which helped them plan and implement a bus boycott in Tallahassee. Within weeks, the city’s buses were integrated. The campus’s chapter of CORE was founded by these women, along with others, and helped run lunch counter sit-ins for three years to reach integration in Tallahassee.

6, 7, 8, & 9. Nashville Sit-in Movement: Tennessee State, Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, and Baptist Seminary

60civilrights14...Negro students, Matthew Walker, left, Peggy Alexander, Diane Nash and Stanley Hemphill, eat lunch at the previously segregated counter of the Post House Restaurant in the Greyhound bus terminal. This marked the first time since the start of the sit-in that Negroes have been served at previously all-white counters in Nashville. Staff photo by Gerald Holly (The Tennessean) 5/16/1960

Tennessee State’s mission is “enter to learn; go forth to serve,” which was clearly instilled in its students during the Civil Rights Movement. Four days after the Greensboro four began their sit-ins, the Nashville sit-in movement began, thanks to the four HBCUs who coordinated the movement.

10, 11, 12, & 13. The fight for relevancy within the curriculum: Howard University, Cheyney State University, Bowie State University and Tuskegee University


Towards the late 1960s, many HBCU students began demanding changes in their curricula that would “ensure the presence of African initiatives and experiences.” In protest, 400 students took over the administration building at Cheyney State University in 1967. Other HBCU students followed suit, with Howard University and Bowie State University experiencing protests for campus reforms and a black-oriented curriculum in 1968. At Tuskegee University, students held 12 of the university trustees hostage for 12 hours, also demanding campus-wide reform. These protests fueled students across the country to demand more relevant curricula to help them better face an ever-changing world.

Source: Historically Black Colleges and Universities: an Encyclopedia, page 175