Dr. Myiesha Taylor

The HBCU Digest is proud to present its second annual Digest 50, a year-ending review of the names and headlines that defined HBCU culture in the previous year.

2012 was an extraordinary year of successes and challenges for HBCU culture, and this list, while not comprehensive, gives an inside look at the gains made by historically black colleges, and the people behind them.

There are a lot of reasons to be excited about the future of historically black colleges, and their continued value to black communities and the nation. Please enjoy this list, feel free to comment on those who made the list and those who didn’t, and share with your circle of HBCU advocates.


Dr. Myiesha Taylor, an alumna of Xavier University of Louisiana, started a movement with her “We Are Doc McStuffins” campaign on Facebook. Giving support to the show that depicted an African-American girl with aspirations of becoming a doctor, Dr. Taylor’s efforts attracted hundreds female doctors from HBCUs nationwide who support positive images of black women in public health and the medical sciences.

Thanks to a massive awareness campaign launched by the University of the Virgin Islands, alumni of the institution helped boost giving from 13 percent to 42 percent in 2012. It is one of the largest increases among historically black colleges this year, and perhaps in history.

Wardell and Josie Ballantine celebrated 35 years of RV tailgating at Southern University football games in 2012, displaying not only love and support of their alma mater, but for each other. The Ballantines were the first to gameday tailgate in SU history.

Howard University alumni Omar McGee and Kellie Crawford launched a viral web campaign to raise funds in support of a Los Angeles-based charter school. “The Thought Campaign” challenges supporters to reconsider the impact of education, and pioneers new considerations on how to encourage minority youth towards academic and entrepreneurial success.

Jackson State University alumnus Cortez Bryant donated $500,000 to the university in 2012 in support of JSU’s scholarship fund. Bryant is the manager for hip-hop stars Lil’ Wayne and Drake.

Former University of Maryland Eastern Shore students Josh and Matt Shockley launched a superhero comic book series based on the Eastern Shore. The series, which is gaining regional and national attention, is also creating a buzz for their independent company, PLB Comics.

Spelman College alumna Rosalind Brewer was named the president and CEO of the Sam’s Club retail chain, becoming the first African-American woman to hold the position. Brewer will oversee a chain of more than 610 stores that grossed more than $49 billion in 2011.

The James and Ruth Smith Trust bequeathed more than $1 million in assets and property to Southern University in 2012, making the largest private donation in Southern history in 2012. James and Ruth, both Southern graduates, died 2008 and 2006 respectively.  They were married for 44 years.

Alvin Davis, a Florida A&M University graduate was a candidate for 2012 National Teacher of the Year. His work was profiled on the CBS Evening News in 2012, and created a new perspective on black men as secondary teachers and mentors.

Morehouse College alumnus Imar Hutchins sparked a national debate about HBCU relevance and the continuing legacy of his alma mater with a letter to the college’s Board of Trustees in summer 2012. Hutchins asked pointed questions about Morehouse’s future and the vision it sought in a new leader, an invited deeper introspection from other alums about their own institutions…

Read More: Jarrett L. Carter, huffingtonpost.com

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