Historically African-American College, With Help from the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, Is Recognized as a HCBU

Kevin Cosby (left) discusses a new partnership with Kentucky Baptist Fellowship moderator Bob Fox at the KBF spring gathering April 24-25 at Lexington Avenue Baptist Church in Danville, Ky. (KBF photo)
Kevin Cosby (left) discusses a new partnership with Kentucky Baptist Fellowship moderator Bob Fox at the KBF spring gathering April 24-25 at Lexington Avenue Baptist Church in Danville, Ky. (KBF photo)

A Baptist college opened in 1879 to educate former slaves that is currently forming ties with the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship has received official recognition as a historically black college or university.

Simmons College of Kentucky is one of 107 HCBUs recognized by the U.S. Department of Education nationwide, and just the second in Kentucky. The designation, announced by college president Kevin Cosby on Twitter, qualifies the school for federal funds, a boost toward the Louisville pastor’s goal of revitalizing the school that named him 13th president in 2005.

Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., recently linked arms with the Kentucky branch of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Cosby, a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville who has taught, preached and held leadership positions at the SBC seminary, said at the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship’s recent spring gathering that one reason he sought out the Fellowship is concern over Calvinism being introduced into his community.

“He sees the strain of Calvinism some are trying to plant there as harmful, as it makes people fatalistic and docile, the antithesis of African-American empowerment,” KBF interim coordinator Chris Sanders summarized Cosby’s remarks in a KBF newsletter. “He is opposed to all forms of discrimination, be it race, gender or sexual orientation.”

Cosby complained in a January tweet that “ultra-conservative Calvinist seminaries make black ministers strangers in their own community.”

“ML King was not a Calvinist, but a Liberationist,” Cosby said in another post. In another he generalized “whenever black ministers are trained by ultra-conservative, Calvinist seminaries they become docilized and de-radicalized.”

Historically black colleges and universities played a strong part in American history. Martin Luther King, W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, to name a few, all graduated from HBCUs.

They continue to function in an important role of educational opportunity for underprivileged students. While HBCUs represent just 3 percent of the nation’s institutions of higher learning, they graduate nearly 20 percent of African-Americans who earn undergraduate degrees. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund says HCBU institutions graduate more than 50 percent of African-American professionals and public-school teachers.

Prior to the Civil War, there was no structured higher education system for black students in America, and in some parts of the country it was illegal. The Institute for Colored Youth, the first higher education institution for blacks, was founded in Cheyney, Pa., in 1837.

After the war, Congress passed a law requiring states with racially segregated public higher education systems to provide a land-grant institution for black students whenever a land-grant institution was established and restricted for white students.

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SOURCE: Baptist News Global
Bob Allen

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