African American Studies | Civil Rights and Discrimination | Curriculum and Instruction | Education Policy | Health and Physical Education | Higher Education | Kinesiology | Leisure Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration | Sports Management | Sports Sciences | Sports Studies


This article provides a comprehensive examination of aquatic programming at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). HBCUs consist of public, private, 2-year, and 4-year institutions (U.S. Department of Education, 2018). Historically, HBCUs provided descendants of the enslaved access to higher education opportunities (Brown, Donahoo, & Bertrand, 2001). HBCUs now serve a more diverse community and the core focus remains on inclusion, social justice, diversity, empowerment, leadership, and cultural competence (Kennedy, 2012; Rawlins, 2018). Consequently, HBCUs may provide an ideal environment to address aquatic activity and the drowning disparity in the African American community. In the current study, researchers sent a survey to 102 HBCUs to better assess the prevalence of aquatics programming at these institutions. Approximately 38 percent of the HBCUs responded to the survey. The results of this study indicate that there is inconsistent institutional knowledge about competitive and non-competitive swimming programs from the past to the present. However, 31 percent of participants reported offering swim classes to members of the campus community. Additionally, 51 percent of participants reported offering swim courses for college credit. Most importantly, 49 percent of participants indicated a desire to build or expand aquatics programming. The drowning disparity is a result of a cycle that includes historical barriers that denied many African Americans’ access to aquatic facilities and programming (Anderson, 2017). Identifying aquatics programming at HBCUs is a critical step to addressing the drowning disparity.