Editor: Blake O. Benberry

In modern Detroit times, discussion surrounding Historically Black College Universities (HBCU) and the City, is rare. Yet, for some who recall the vibrancy of an earlier educational era here, the recent announcement of the former  Lewis College of Business reopening is likely to ignite interest. 

D’Wayne Edwards, founder of PENSOLE Design Academy in Portland, is leading the conversation as well as the proposal to reopen the sole HBCU that the state of Michigan has ever housed. Under this proposal, the college would be called PENSOLE Lewis College of Business and Design in partnership with the College of Creative Studies. 

Some provoking thoughts for us all. If granted the reclaiming privilege, what all would we as Black Detroiters not only want, but expect from the reinstated institution? 

Detroit remains one of the Blackest cities in America. Therefore, the presence of an HBCU representing our distinct quality and showcase of giftedness shall be of utmost priority. Far from truth, it is a prime time to dismantle stigmas of Detroit lacking in comparison to other metropolises and further reiterate the power of Detroit’s historical leadership. 


Below are 5 things Detroiters may desire from our very own Historically Black College in 2021-2022. 

A staff with experience teaching in their career fields. 

Pensole College will be a certification program, much like a trade school program specifically for arts and design. Brands which will sponsor the college will help sculpt the courses as teachers and instructors will be selected from the creative wealth that is Detroit’s professional creatives. 

How cool would it be to learn sneaker design at the hands of someone like Trevor “Fresh” Coates, owner of Profit Brand and the Burn Rubber. The possibility of studying under the distinguished guidance of garment design aficionado, Tracy Reese, gives chills. 

Partnerships with Detroit-bred brands

The Portland location of Pensole college is sponsored by leading brands including Nike, Asics, Adidas, and others. While understanding and appreciating the designated support for the proposed Detroit location, we would also like to see space carved out for local and home-grown brands which are incomparable to none such as Shinola and Rebel Nell, to name only a few. 

Opportunities for students to be entrepreneurs

At an arts and design focused HBCU program, we expect students through internships, classes and beyond the classroom, to enjoy their rightful creative luxury where accessibility and resources to flex their entrepreneurial muscles are boundless. Even Pensole College’s blueprint and design should be led significantly by prolific local artists. Undoubtedly, Detroit creatives thrive where they can build and sustain as a way to establish their own lasting footprints while contributing to Detroit’s unparalleled legacy. 

The best of the best when it comes to equipment 

Oftentimes, HBCU programs are not provided funding in the way predominately white institutions are. Whether it is technology, exposure, or the unique curriculums, our reverberated HBCU shall be of supremacy. 

Black Leader Led Seminars/Classes/Workshops, Period. 

Not Everyone has experienced the honor of being taught by Black teachers and professors. There’s something innately special in receiving knowledge of our ancestry and beyond from those who look like you, speak the same cultural language and share a breadth of relations as you do. Rightfully so, the black instructor and student connection is one of spirited, dignified and priceless nature. Black teachers have always served as evolvers of academia throughout history and around the world.   With the eager possibility of welcoming PENSOLE Lewis College of Business, Detroit will continue to cement its legacy of fervent trailblazing, resilience and innovation.  

Learn More PENSOLE Lewis College of Business and Design here https://pensole.com/pensolelewis/

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