Underrepresented Minority Access in Higher Education The Era of Hegemony in higher education iscoined the “golden age” (Cohen, 187). Soldiers were returning home from WorldWar II. The Service Readjustment Act of 1944(the G.I. Bill) was posted: gavesoldiers and veterans money to send them to college which increased attendance(Cohen, 194).
Colleges were affordable. The 1960’s gave students a voice.Curriculum was based on student engagement. Finances for higher educationincreased and higher education was available for “some”. Minority groups wereunderrepresented during this period.
Access for “all” became the focus for thisera. Even today, the focus of highereducation is access. Social, cultural, and political views causes others in theU. S. to be underrepresented in higher education. Blacks, Hispanics, women, andother minorities are faced with barriers and challenges as it related to highereducation.
Although enrollment rates, graduation rates, and diverse campuseshave flourished, minorities are still unequally represented in educationalaccess and opportunity. One particular minority group, African Americans areunderrepresented in higher education. The steps taken to increase educationalaccess in the Hegemony Era were crucial turning points for African-Americans ineducational access and success. There are still gaps that separate highereducation in African-Americans from other minority and majority groups, butthrough financial aid, college readiness, support and student understanding,African-American students can benefit from higher education.Historyof Access Black students did not have a foundation foreducation before the Civil War. Blacks were prohibited any education in severalparts of the nation.
Following the Civil War, the Second Morrill Act of 1890required that states with racially segregated education institutions to provideland-grants for establishing education for Black students. The new, foundedpublic black institutions offered courses in agricultural, mechanical, andindustrial subjects. Many separated but equal institutions wereestablished under federal law. However, the breakthrough case of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954), stated thateducational facilities were unequal, and as a result, it ruled in violation ofequal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, paving the way forintegration. Even though the act did not specify when integration would begin,that decision would solely be determined by each state (Cohen, 195-196). This was no means a victory for Blacks, formany whites would not comply to the ruling.
Southern states governors such asLittle Rock, Arkansas called out the National Guard to block students fromentering; Virginia’s governor closed integrated schools; the Universities of Mississippiand Alabama governors defied the orders (Cohen, 196). A decade later the CivilRights of 1964 was introduced. It authorized federal power to be brought tobear on the rights ofall people to vote, to use public facilities, to gainjobs, and to support colleges and schools in providing in-service trainingdesigned to assist staff in dealing with problems caused by schooldesegregation (Cohen, 197). The Higher Education Act of 1965 provided grantsfor Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) faculty and curriculumimprovement, student services, exchange programs, and administrationimprovement. “Affirmative Action”, first introduced by U.S. President John F.Kennedy, was brought to fruition by President Lyndon B.
Johnson, in 1965, positivelyaffected African-American participation in higher education (Harper, 397). Ifthe cost of attending college is affordable, if the college experience is afeeling of encouragement, acceptability and engagement, and if the faculty issupportive to the needs of the students, then higher education could driveAfrican-American students to degree-granting success. Access to higher education is available forall minorities: military (activeveteran), Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, NativeAmericans, disabled students, and all women. Legislature, finance, socialupheaval, and student attitudes made higher education accessible to those whotook advantage of the choice. Bridging the gap between African Americanstudents and other groups is the higher education issue of today.