Before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, many colleges and universities prevented African American students from applying or instituted strict acceptance quotas. Because of this obstacle to higher education, many colleges were founded, mostly in the American South, to serve members of the African American community. These schools, traditionally termed Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), still thrive today. Here are the top 5, according to U.S. News, and some of their most influential graduates!


Spelman College: Stacey Abrams- Abrams has moved on to become an influential politician. She was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, and she now spearheads the movement “Fair Fight,” which campaigns against discriminatory voting laws.


Howard University: Chadwick Boseman- Boseman is renowned for writing, acting, and directing. He is most known for playing Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from 2016 to 2019.


Xavier University of Louisiana: Regina Benjamin- Benjamin worked as the 18th Surgeon General of the United States.

Tuskegee University: Ralph Ellison- Ellison was a novelist who wrote many works. His most notable, Invisible Man, won the National Book Award in 1953. 


Hampton University: Booker T. Washington- Washington was a prominent leader in the African American community in the post-Civil War era. He advocated for upward mobility through education and entrepreneurship, rather than directly challenging Jim Crow segregation.