BRIA AND BRANDI SPARROW, celebrated for their accomplishments as Wilberforce University graduates at an Aug. 27 event at the Grayson Center. (Photos by Gail Manker)

Bria and Brandi showed ‘faith’ in Wilberforce through university’s tough times

Historically-Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, were created to give Black Americans the chance for the higher education they’d long been denied.

While a few HBCUs had been established before or slightly after the Civil War, the exclusionary Jim Crow laws in the South only ignited the growth of many more HBCUs. Now, 53 years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there are over 100 active HBCUs in the United States. Some HBCUs have deep religious roots, others are single-gender institutions, but each institution comes with its own history.

MARISA SPARROW is one proud mother of fraternal twins Bria and Brandi. In this photo, she is shown with Brandi.

For some young people, the environment of an HBCU offers a safe haven in the era of Eric Garner and President Trump. For others, the reputation of some HBCUs as affordable is a draw.

For Pittsburgh native twins Bria and Brandi Sparrow, Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio is not just a school, but a part of their family’s history. While they were growing up, their grandmother, Ladora Jamison, would frequently tell the twins stories of her experience and gift them with Wilberforce merchandise.

For the 23-year-olds who, at first, didn’t even attend the same high school, attending the same university was a coincidence. Although coincidental, the sisters appreciated the support having the other sibling there offered.

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