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We Asked 20 People Why They Went To Black Colleges

"When I finished high school there was no Civil Rights Bill. I wanted to go where I could learn more about myself and my people."

BuzzFeed recently visited the Atlanta University Center, home of the historically black colleges Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta University, to celebrate the three schools' 2015 homecoming.

Johnny Crawford For BuzzFeed News

While there, we asked alumni and current students to tell us why they chose to attend their historically black colleges, and here's what they told us:

"I had a choice between Tuskegee and Morehouse, and I chose Morehouse because of the legacy."
Zach Thomas / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

"I had a choice between Tuskegee and Morehouse, and I chose Morehouse because of the legacy."

"My guidance counselor in high school [said], 'You're going to Morehouse,' and guess what? I came to Morehouse! It was just that simple. Signed, sealed, and delivered."

"We celebrated our 40th class reunion in 2013, and I've been back to every homecoming except one. The first year after I graduated I didn't come back; I was trying to make a living! We've been back ever since, wouldn't miss it for anything." —Samuel Williams, Morehouse Class of 1973
Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News

"We celebrated our 40th class reunion in 2013, and I've been back to every homecoming except one. The first year after I graduated I didn't come back; I was trying to make a living! We've been back ever since, wouldn't miss it for anything." —Samuel Williams, Morehouse Class of 1973

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"Being in a small classroom setting, you have a one-on-one opportunity if you need help. It's available. You're not in a classroom with 100 other kids where you have to have a TA, but the professor was always there. We even had [math professor] come over on Saturdays to have work sessions to do calculus problems. Who would take their Saturday to come spend half the day with their students to make sure that they were prepared?"
Zach Thomas / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

"Being in a small classroom setting, you have a one-on-one opportunity if you need help. It's available. You're not in a classroom with 100 other kids where you have to have a TA, but the professor was always there. We even had [math professor] come over on Saturdays to have work sessions to do calculus problems. Who would take their Saturday to come spend half the day with their students to make sure that they were prepared?"

"I wanted to experience 24-hour black, and all that that comes with since we're not a myopic people. I was looking for something as diverse as we are."

—Joe Carlos III, Morehouse Class of 2004
Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News

—Joe Carlos III, Morehouse Class of 2004

Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News

"It was really never a question whether I would choose an HBCU because my parents and their sisters and brothers all went to HBCUs."

"I chose Spelman because I wanted to go to the best HBCU, and so that's why I'm here!" —Kim Bennekin, Spelman Class of 1993
Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News

"I chose Spelman because I wanted to go to the best HBCU, and so that's why I'm here!" —Kim Bennekin, Spelman Class of 1993

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"I did a tour of the black colleges back when I was in high school, and fell in love with them. We had excellent professors; we had more of a one on one student-to-faculty ratio."
Zach Thomas / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

"I did a tour of the black colleges back when I was in high school, and fell in love with them. We had excellent professors; we had more of a one on one student-to-faculty ratio."

"My aunt went to Clark so it was a little bit of a legacy. I really thought about an HBCU because of the family feeling and dynamic, and I knew that I would have a different experience being accepted as a black person back during that time."

"I knew I would have the attention that I needed in the classes and friendships." —Veronica Tutt, Clark Atlanta Class of 1989
Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News

"I knew I would have the attention that I needed in the classes and friendships." —Veronica Tutt, Clark Atlanta Class of 1989

Zach Thomas / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

"I knew that I wanted to go to an HBCU, and I wanted to go to one that’s small."

"I chose Clark Atlanta because after doing research, besides Howard, that was the only other school that had a great communications department, and that was my major." —Ursula Miller, Clark Atlanta Class of 1991
Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News

"I chose Clark Atlanta because after doing research, besides Howard, that was the only other school that had a great communications department, and that was my major." —Ursula Miller, Clark Atlanta Class of 1991

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"Morehouse gave me the chance to be around like-minded people who shared the same ethnicity with me. And for me that was most important, to see people who were like me, to see people who could potentially think like me, and bounce ideas and thoughts off people I knew I could trust, culturally."
Zach Thomas / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

"Morehouse gave me the chance to be around like-minded people who shared the same ethnicity with me. And for me that was most important, to see people who were like me, to see people who could potentially think like me, and bounce ideas and thoughts off people I knew I could trust, culturally."

"There were people in the community that I really admired like teachers who really impressed me, and led me to come and be a Spelman woman."

—Ondrea Hightower, Spelman Class of 1968
Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News

—Ondrea Hightower, Spelman Class of 1968

"I chose Morehouse because I wanted a first-class education. 'HBCU' did not exist when I came to Morehouse."

Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News
Zach Thomas for BuzzFeed News

—Jimmy Johnson, Morehouse Class of 1956, and his wife, Mable Johnson, Spelman Class of 1953

"I lost my culture, so when my father retired, I moved back to Georgia and thought this would be a great place for me."
Zach Thomas / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

"I lost my culture, so when my father retired, I moved back to Georgia and thought this would be a great place for me."

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"Both my parents went to HBCUs. They were very successful people, and I decided that's where I could get my growth and learn who I am — and that if I went to an HBCU I could do anything in this world, and I'm doing that!"

—Deirdre Hartfield-Cooper, Spelman Class of 1993
Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News

—Deirdre Hartfield-Cooper, Spelman Class of 1993

"And I definitely did, so it was a great choice. I feel like I'm a more well-rounded individual now, especially to be a black person, a black man." —Cedric Hill, Morehouse Class of 2014
Zach Thomas / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

"And I definitely did, so it was a great choice. I feel like I'm a more well-rounded individual now, especially to be a black person, a black man." —Cedric Hill, Morehouse Class of 2014

"I believe that no other college would prepare me for the workforce for black women like Spelman College. Spelman has produced many doctors, many businesswomen. I want to be part of that category."

—Payton, Spelman Class of 2018
Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News

—Payton, Spelman Class of 2018

Zach Thomas / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

"My mom works at Clark Atlanta, and if your parent works at one of the AUC schools, then you get in tuition-free. I was like, 'OK I've heard a lot about this place, I live in the area, Morehouse is obviously the place to go!'"

—June, Morehouse Class of 2018
Zach Thomas For Buzzfeed News

—June, Morehouse Class of 2018

"I chose Morehouse specifically because it's the mecca of that, especially for black men in America now. We constantly defeat that stereotype every day. Once I realized what the institution stood for, the history behind it, and when I actually got here and just felt the environment of the people it made me a much better man, a much better person. I think any black male, if they come here or not, should just experience one day here and it will change your life."
Zach Thomas / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

"I chose Morehouse specifically because it's the mecca of that, especially for black men in America now. We constantly defeat that stereotype every day. Once I realized what the institution stood for, the history behind it, and when I actually got here and just felt the environment of the people it made me a much better man, a much better person. I think any black male, if they come here or not, should just experience one day here and it will change your life."

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