The South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus hosted its third annual HBCU Day at the state house on Tuesday. The event, which was signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster in 2022, is celebrated on the third Tuesday of February. Students and government officials gathered to celebrate Black excellence and discuss the unique set of challenges of HBCUs, such as a lack of funding.

“This is a reminder that HBCUs are still strong, HBCUs are still relevant, and HBCUs are still producing Black excellence,” Sen. Deon Tedder said, according to WLTX.

South Carolina is home to eight HBCUs, including Allen University, Benedict College, Claflin University, Clinton College, Denmark Technical College, Morris College, South Carolina State University and Voorhees University.

They produce 4,985 jobs and $5.2 billion in lifetime earnings, according to UNCF.

“I hope they see that we’re here to make a change. We’re here to make a difference,” Morgan Miles, a student at Benedict College, told WLTX about the opportunity to talk to state leaders about students’ experiences and challenges on campus. “We’re confident about the roles that we hold and the power and the value that we know that we hold, and we’re here to make a change.”

Some attendees recognized the event as a unique opportunity to address existing issues such as funding.

“We don’t get much opportunities like this where we’re able to come together and voice our opinion and voice what’s on our mind,” Derry Auguste, a student at Morris College, said. 

HBCUs in several states have voiced concerns over a lack of funding. The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland advocates for the state’s land-grant HBCUs to receive equitable funding, while HBCU alums filed a federal lawsuit over underfunding at Georgia universities.

“We’re hoping that South Carolina will do better,” State Rep. Annie McDaniel said. “Some of our historically Black colleges and universities have challenges, they have challenges housing, they have challenges with the facilities. We’re just going to continue the effort and we’re going to continue to share what is going on those campuses so hopefully we can continue to increase the funding so that those students will have the same types of facility as if they were going to other colleges and universities within the state.”