Concerning HBCUs, when the phrase “The Mecca” is uttered, one’s thoughts are instantly drawn the Howard University. Howard University, once having a monopoly on African American academics, produced some of the best the African American race had to offer. Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his tome, “ Between the World and Me” describes “The Mecca” as a salad bowl of all things African American and high caliber. At Howard University (HU) one could, some say still, come to forge, craft and cement your identity as a person of color in America. Tressie Cottom in a response, to the 2nd/3rd chapter(s) of “Between the World and Me”, Cottom leaves the reader with the thought and impression “The Mecca” is more than Howard University. Hence, “The Mecca” is or can be at every HBCU. Since everyone does not attend HU, everyone views “The Mecca” differently. Therefor, those attending Prairie View A&M (PVAMU) , with two question. Can PVAMU be considered a “Mecca” ? Should there be only one “Mecca” ?
Webster’s Dictionary defines mecca, as a place many people want to or wish to visit. We can expand this definition for the purposes of this thought piece, as the cultural and intellectual center of personal and holistic advancement. From this frame work provided through Webster’s Dictionary, we are left with one expedient answer denotationally to, should there be more than one “Mecca” and that answer is yes. Though connotation, for there two be more than one “Mecca”, the aspiring university would have to meet the standards/prestige of HU. Does PVAMU live up or even attempt to strive for the standard bearer HU?
As a graduating senior of PVAMU and active student in various organizations, I am privy to what happens behind the veil. In short I am cognizant of the methods used to attract students and the means by which, they are left reeling to find other institutions. That alone cannot be relied upon from the subjective point of view from which it originates, nevertheless we can quantify the aforementioned. With over 90% of students on financial assistance to attend school, all the while in danger of loosing federal funding, due to loan default rates, that alone should disqualify PVAMU from the conversation of being considered a “Mecca”. But I will dive further to drive home a premise.
PVAMU stands along with Texas Southern in the lowest performing universities in the state of Texas, based upon four year graduation rates, coupled with resources and opportunities offered to all fields of study within the university, PVAMU is at best sub par. Not to be out done, HBCUs across the nation suffer from some of the same ills. Concluding, there can only be one “Mecca” simply because, no other HBCU can offer what HU offers its students, a supreme chance to better their quality of life, lives of their children through vicarious success and intellectual wealth. I am sure , Tressie Cottom would have her disagreements, however when an analytical approach is is used as the lens, HU will be for the time being, be the only “The Mecca”.