JACKSON, Miss.— Mississippi Valley State University joined students from across the state in a screening of the documentary, “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities” Thursday, Jan. 25, as part of the #HBCURising Campus Tour.
Hosted at the Mississippi e-Center at Jackson State University, the event gave attendees the chance to preview the documentary which examines the impact HBCUs have had on American history, culture, and national identity.
During the event, students had the chance to meet the documentary’s director, award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson. They also had the opportunity to interact with Nelson during a panel discussion with three HBCU presidents, including MVSU’s Dr. Jerryl Briggs.
“Watching the documentary gave me a deeper appreciation not only for HBCUs but the history as African Americans as a whole,” said freshmen sociology major Janice Cithcens of Tutwiler, MS. Many HBCUs don’t have the best amenities, but what they do offer are instructors and leaders who genuinely care about the well-being of their students, and that’s worth its weight in gold.”
Deveon Treadway, a sophomore English and Criminal Justice major from Chicago, Ill., said the film was very enlightening.
“The documentary raised very valid points, and helped me to understand HBCUs in a new light,” he said. It was surprising for me to learn that there are people questioning the need for HBCUs in today’s society. When we look at where we stand as a society, I think they’re necessary just as they were in the beginning. HBCUs serve as a safe haven, particularly for African American students, and gives them a place to celebrate their culture and history.
Briggs expressed a similar sentiment during the panel discussion when questioned about the relevance of HBCUs today.
“I’m a product of an HBCU, and hadn’t I had that experience, I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair today,” he shared. Beyond just getting a degree, attending an HBCU really opened me up as a person and helped me to realize my potential.
Briggs also pointed out that HBCUs continue to graduate a disproportionate number of minorities each year.
“We’re making a difference in the whole context of higher education,” he said. Attending an HBCUs made a difference for me personally; they made a difference for my family. They’ve also opened opportunities for many of you here, so that shows us that they’re still relevant.”
The #HBCURising Campus Tour was sponsored by Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Jackson State University and Tougaloo College.
“Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities” will premiere during the PBS series Independent Lens at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19.
To learn more about the film, visit www.hbcurising.com.