Spelling out the impact of HBCUs

 WHYY film, discussion examines  historically black colleges & universitiez

(Photo Left) Steven Bradley. Photo courtesy of Steven Bradley.

As a graduate of Fisk University, Steven Bradley was educated in a collegiate setting unfamiliar to much of America – that of historically black colleges and universities.


The culture, importance and impact of such institutions are laid out in clear, compelling fashion in the documentary, “Tell Them We Are Rising.” Bradley’s company, Bradley & Bradley Associates Inc., along with WHYY, of which Bradley is a board member, is sponsoring the screening on Feb. 12 at Cheyney University, one of two HBCUs in the state of Pennsylvania. A discussion on HBCUs will follow the film screening.


“It’s an opportunity to highlight and be proud of our rich heritage of black colleges,” Bradley said.


That heritage traces back to America’s slave era and travels through today, and the scores of institutions that have delivered influential doctors, scientists and educators in the face of financial and societal struggle.


The film, which premiered to critical acclaim at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, was made by Stanley Nelson and Marco Williams. On the film’s website, hbcurising.com, Williams cites “to inform and to educate,” as his goal in making the film. “For a large swath of the people living in the U.S. the four letters—HBCU, are unfamiliar,” he said.


Offers Nelson, “My goal is to highlight the indisputable importance of these institutions within Black communities and invite Americans to consider how different our country might look without the existence of these institutions. I also hope this film prompts viewers to not only celebrate the legacy of HBCUs, but also reinvest in them.”


Nelson has directed and produced more than a dozen documentary features. They include “Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” “Freedom Summer,” “Freedom Riders,” “Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple” and “The Murder of Emmett Till.” In 2016, he was honored with a Lifetime Peabody Award, a Lifetime Emmy Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association.


Bradley offers his own reflections on the impact of his schooling: “When I went to Fisk, I had some great teachers who motivated and pushed you. It was like, ‘You’re not going to quit.’” Noting he was a business major who had two professors with doctorates in math, he says, “I ended up graduating with a degree in math and that was because I was impressed with two African Americans with Ph.D.s in math, and I’ve been able to build a successful career in insurance.”


As a way to continue to impact the community, Bradley & Bradley, which has been in business for 18 years, specializes in serving non-profit organizations.


Bradley said the response so far for the event “is going really well. We’re nearly sold out.”


The screening and discussion take place Mon., Feb. 12, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Marian Anderson Music Center, at 1837 University Circle, Cheyney University, Thornbury Township, PA 19319.


The event is free, but registration is required. To register, and for other area screening opportunities, go to whyy.org/events.





Spelling out the impact of HBCUs
Sheila Simmons - Contributor

Sheila Simmons brings many years of writing and communications experience to her work for Liberty City Press. She began her professional writing career at the Philadelphia Daily News, where she covered Business, City Hall and Education.


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