Our history when it comes to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is unmatched!

The Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design (PLC) is the latest institution to make huge waves as it has officially drafted proposed legislation to become the nation’s first-ever re-opened HBCU.

Originally known as The Lewis College of Business in 1928, it first operated as a secretarial school for Black women prior to relocating to Detroit in 1939 and became a critical economic source for the city’s Black community.

Stemming from royalty, PLC is a dream school-made reality thanks to Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, the founder of the PENSOLE Design Academy in Portland, OR. He is also stockholder of the previously closed Detroit-based HBCU, Lewis College of Business.

Now, through a partnership with the College for Creative Studies (CCS), PLC will reopen its doors in March 2022 with a mission to serve as a home for aspiring Black creatives, business leaders, designers and engineers. It will also resurrect the legacy of Violet T. Lewis whom the school was originally named after. 

Rich History

The history of HBCUs spans across generations, which is why it’s imperative that we do everything in our power to protect them.

“HBCUs are a large part of our history as African Americans and we must preserve these sacred institutions. At one point, there were more than 120 HBCUs and today we are down to 101 with more in danger of closing every year,” said Edwards in an official interview with AfroTech. “I truly believe HBCUs hold the key to our future, especially if they continue to receive the funding they need to create a curriculum that competes or elevates over the traditional learning institutions.”

Violet T. Lewis Legacy

Edwards has led the charge to turn the re-opening of PLC into a reality, but it’s much more than just reopening a school. He is on a mission to continue the Violet T. Lewis legacy.

“Carrying on her legacy is our top priority,” he said. “The world needs to know that only three Black women have ever founded an HBCU, and she is one of them. In addition to this, her vision for entrepreneurship and education was decades ahead of her time. We will honor her by first changing the colors of the college to shades of Violet. Her story will live within the curriculum. We will build a statue of her when we complete our new campus. The buildings, floors, and classrooms will be named after her grandparents, daughters and grandchildren.  The family has committed to be represented as a part of our Board of Directors.”

Violet T. Lewis also built her own curriculum in an effort to institute professional development in the corporate environment. PLC’s work moving forward will be centered around not only continuing her efforts but also building upon them.

Community Support

None of this would have happened without the help of the community. 

“The level of support we have received from [the] Violet T. Lewis family — eagerness to bring this to life from [the] College for Creative Studies to the commitment from the city of Detroit and education from The Gilbert Family Foundation, [and] the vision of Target to invest into Black communities and HBCUs has all been truly humbling,” Dr. Edwards concluded. “The response from national media, social media, and other HBCU administrations has been tremendous. Lastly, the energy the city of Detroit has shown by welcoming us with open arms and [its] willingness to help tells us an HBCU will thrive in the city. It feels great to be on this journey to create new pathways for our youth and to reintroduce Violet T. Lewis to the world.”

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