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Hampton University Shows the Role HBCUs Play in Strengthening the Black Family Is Crucial

The Martin Luther King Republicans are happy to re-publish this article by Delano Squire. If you are an HBCU alumni, please support your school with scholarships, endowments, or recruitment. HBCUs have been the bedrock for Black Americans and will survive with our help. Delano is a Research Fellow in Heritage’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family. This piece originally appeared in Black Enterprise.

The benefits of healthy marriages and stable families are clear.

Hampton University’s 42nd Annual Conference On The Black Family proves that when it comes to “Black love”, the school is a model for other HBCUs.

The event, which took place March 20-24, was hosted by the university’s National Center for Black Family Life and brought together scholars, pastors, counselors, and other presenters who are all committed to the same goal: increasing the number of stable marriages and intact families in the Black community.

The conference kicked off with a tribute to President Darrell K. Williams, a retired U.S. Army three-star general, and his wife, First Lady Myra R. Williams. The two met while attending Hampton in the early 1980s and married in 1987.

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The next two days included panel discussions on marriage, faith, finances, and health. Speakers included Frederick Haynes III, pastor and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition as well as Virginia’s First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin. I teamed up with University of Virginia sociology professor Brad Wilcox to talk about tangible ways to restore a marriage culture in Black America. There was even a student-led forum on how young adults think about relationships, marriage, and family.

In addition to presentations from scholars, pastors, and counselors, the conference also featured a conversation with artists and entertainers, including Hampton alum Raashaun “DJ Envy” Casey and his wife Gia, as well as actor Lamman Rucker and his wife Kelly. The couples talked about everything from how they met and their marriage vows to infidelity and the loss of a child.

Conferences like this matter because decades of research demonstrate a clear connection between family structure and socioeconomic outcomes. If racial uplift, economic mobility, and safe neighborhoods are the goals, promoting marriage and intact families on the South Side of Chicago is as important today as civil rights were in Selma, Alabama in 1964.

There’s no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families. Hampton University received a $1 million grant from the nonprofit Communio in 2023 to support Black families through partnerships with local churches. The university also offers coursework on Black marital relationships and family counseling.

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Other HBCUs should follow Hampton’s lead. Schools can use marketing campaigns to plant the seeds of family life while students are on campus.

Schools can also use faculty and graduate students in the appropriate disciplines to offer pre-marital education to couples in their surrounding communities. HBCUs can also cultivate a local marriage culture by allowing campus grounds and facilities to be used for weddings—with discounts for staff and alumni.

Black colleges and universities are important institutions that play an important role in cultivating future lawyers, doctors, and engineers. There is no reason they can’t invest in family.


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