This Black History Month, City Colleges of Chicago faculty and staff are sharing their HBCU success stories and explaining how their time at an HBCU impacts their work today. 

Read more from Associate Professor of Music and Humanities and Chair of the Humanities Department at Olive-Harvey Dr. Cornelius Johnson.

HBCUs are a part of my family’s legacy. My grandfather attended Morehouse College. My father graduated from Morehouse College and my mother was a graduate of Clark College, now known as Clark Atlanta University. I have other family members, on both sides, who are alums of HBCUs. After a visit to Morehouse for prospective high school students, I knew I wanted to attend.  I followed in my father and grandfather’s footsteps and enrolled there as well.

I loved my time in college. It was wonderful and transformative. I enjoyed the brotherhood at Morehouse, the history of the city of Atlanta, and the education I received. I felt a sense of community and saw excellence all around me, from the faculty to my fellow students. I met students from all over the country and all over the world. Being on campus was a constant reminder of my pride of being African American and the contributions we’ve made to the world. I was a music major and a member of the world-renowned Morehouse College Glee Club, which afforded me the opportunity to travel across the country. I was also a founding member of Morehouse’s chapter of the musical fraternity Phi Mu Alpha.

I enjoy being able to share my love of music and my belief in the pursuit of excellence with the students at City Colleges of Chicago. I try to be excellent in my instruction, and I encourage all my students to reach their highest potential. I’m also excited to see that City Colleges is partnering with more HBCUs. I think all of our students need to know about the possibilities that exist outside of Illinois and Chicago. Attending an HBCU exposes students to a rich historic legacy which they can also be a part of. HBCUs benefit too.  Our students receive excellent educational ground work at City Colleges and some, have often had to overcome various challenges to persist in their studies. They are then able to bring those amazing experiences and creativity to HBCUs, where they will be ready to jump in with both feet.