Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Whitest Historically Black College in America

It opened in the late 19th century as the Bluefield Colored Institute, created to educate the children of black coal miners in segregated West Virginia. Although it still receives the federal funding that comes with its designation as a historically black institution, today Bluefield State College is 90 percent white. The road that separates those realities is as rocky as any story of racial transition in post-World War II America.

We went to the campus of Bluefield State to see what campus life was like at this unusual college.

The very first student we met, Antonio Bolden, or Tony as he introduced himself, looked like any other student you might see at a historically black college or university (HBCU). He's a laid-back 19-year-old, stocky with shoulder-length dreadlocks and green eyes. But at Bluefield State, Tony is an outlier for several reasons. He's a teenager; the average age of his classmates is 27. He started college right after high school; many of his classmates are working full-time jobs, raising children, or both. And of course, he's black, whereas the student body is only historically so.

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