On Oct. 3, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a proclamation declaring the month as HBCU Month.

According to AL.com leaders say that the signing makes Alabama the first state in the country to dedicate a month to recognize Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“The recognition of these elite historic institutions by Governor Ivey is significant,” Dr. Quinton Ross, President of Alabama State University in Montgomery, said in a press release Wednesday. “No other State has dedicated an entire month in recognition of HBCUs. This speaks volumes to the Governor’s understanding of the value of these institutions to the state and nation.”

There are more HBCUs in Alabama than in any other state in the nation.

HBCUs make up more than a quarter of the state’s four-year institutions and enroll 40% of all Black undergraduates. These HBCUs include:

  • Alabama A&M University
  • Alabama State University
  • Bishop State Community College
  • Concordia College Alabama
  • Gadsden State Community College
  • H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College
  • J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College
  • Lawson State Community College-Birmingham
  • Miles College
  • Oakwood University
  • Selma University
  • Shelton State Community College
  • Stillman College
  • Talladega College
  • Tuskegee University

Ivey’s proclamation comes after a few recent initiatives to boost job growth and workforce diversity in Alabama.

For example, the Alabama Office of Minority Affairs was established in 2016 to advise the governor on issues affecting women and minorities in the state. The agency now has an HBCU Co-Op Program that focuses on establishing a pipeline of diverse talent between the state’s HBCUs and Alabama’s workforce.

Nichelle Williams Nix, Director of the Alabama Office of Minority Affairs, said the new proclamation highlights the importance of HBCUs and their impact on the state’s workforce.

“Governor Ivey supports the important role that Alabama HBCUs play in their respective communities and in the State, and this Proclamation highlights that,” she said in a press release.

AL.com reports State leaders assert that HBCUs are “well known for preparing the highest number of African-American students for science, technology engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and many of Alabama’s HBCUs have been recognized for their top performing STEM departments.”