The city of Detroit is moving forward with plans to reopen Michigan’s only historically black college. The PENSOLE Lewis College of Business is preparing to open in March 2022. Founded by Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, the school will be the first HBCU in the United States that will focus on design.
The Lewis College of Business, Michigan’s first HBCU, was founded in Indiana in 1928 by Violet T. Lewis. It was created as a secretarial school for Black women.
The school would later relocate to Detroit in 1939, becoming an important source of ecumenic advancement for black folks in the community. It produced some of the first black employees at some of the biggest, most lucrative factories in the U.S. GM, Ford, and Michigan Bell all hired black employees from the Lewis College of Business.
Sadly, due to economic disparities, and financial issues, the school lost its accreditation in 2013.
Now, Edwards looks to rejuvenate Lewis’ legacy by rebuilding the historically black college as a way to, “expand the consciousness of what’s possible in the Midwest.”
In order to ensure the school is a success, Edwards has partnered with The Gilbert Foundation, which has pledged a $500 million investment to the city of Detroit. Mega-retailer Target has also committed to investing in the project as a part of their Racial Equity Action and Change (REACH) strategy, in which they plan on investing $100-million to fuel Black communities over the next five years.
Edwards, who is also the founder of PENSOLE Design Academy in Oregon, has to wait for the reinstatement process to be authorized by the Michigan Department of Education and the Michigan State Legislature. Until then the school will operate under the College of Creative Studies in Detroit. Once officially approved, PENSOLE Lewis College of Business can find a permanent home in the city.
“As a predominantly Black city, Detroit should have an operating Historically Black College,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “Not having one has been a hole in our educational landscape for too long.”
Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design (PLC) plans to reopen in 2022. Open enrollment expected to start in December 2021, barring reinstatement is completely authorized by the state.
Click here to read more about the PLC.