"We've got no time for excuses . . . nobody is going to give you anything that you have not earned." President Barack Obama, Morehouse College commencement address
Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, have long been the bedrock of black culture. They have graduated countless luminary figures, including Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the Reverend James Forbes, Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, actor Samuel L. Jackson, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, and Nobel Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr.
But the 104 HBCUs are indisputably under siege, and whether they will remain vital informs this riveting tale of vision and vanity, boardroom backbiting and financial chicanery, idealism and passion. In recent years, from Kentucky State to Morgan State, funding cuts have forced universities to send home thousands of students, dozens of college presidents have been ousted from their jobs, criminal investigations have been launched, conservative legislators have schemed to shut down schools, and overworked faculty have feuded with bureaucrats.
Chronicling this near breaking point for black colleges, Where Everybody Looks Like Me presents a compelling, tightly woven story of the challenges faced by HBCUs. It features administrators, celebrities, and alumni whose lives are intricately tied to the fate of these institutions those such as Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr., who breathed new life into Morehouse College; Dr. Walter Kimbrough, also known as the "Hip-Hop President," who took issue with rap impresario Dr. Dre's $35 million contribution to an unprecedented $70 million gift to the University of Southern California; and Professor Richard Deering, whose protest of the poor management at struggling Wilberforce University led to the resignation of its president. It also captures the passion and idealism of students such as Savannah Bowen, an academic star recruited by elite white schools who ultimately chose an HBCU. At the center of the drama is Howard University trustee Renee Higginbotham-Brooks's crusade to save the grand dame of HBCUs.
The crisis at these schools threatens to upend more than a century and a half of advances, placing the black community at risk of reliving the social and economic hardships that their ancestors struggled to overcome. Where Everybody Looks Like Me makes a powerful case for saving these schools, while offering a rare glimpse behind the social and economic organs that determine the promise and peril of the race."