This next chapter in our journey to the campuses of North Carolina's historically Black colleges and universities takes us to Johnson C. Smith University in the West End of Charlotte. For the first time in a year and half, students at this 154-year-old institution are back on campus and learning in-person again after COVID-19 forced students to go virtual.
Joel Brown met with students, alumni, faculty, the president, and Smith's storied basketball coach and received an up-close look at some of the innovative new programs underway on campus -- including the first fully-accredited eSports degree curriculum at an HBCU and Smith's "Sustainability Village," an on-campus urban farm which aims to bridge the fresh food divide in the university's historically Black neighborhood.
Our America: The HBCU Experience at JCSU also explores the tension gentrification is having on the neighborhood surrounding the university. As Charlotte grows and gentrifies, the students and staff hope to play a lead role in keeping the legacy of the university, built by formerly enslaved people, alive and relevant to the neighborhood's many newcomers.