In this article, we provide an overview-a primer-of the rise of minority serving institutions (msis) as context for understanding the contemporary place of these institutions in our broader system of higher education. We also demonstrate how the emergence and the evolution of msis stem from our nation’s struggle to provide equal educational opportunities to minority communities. Throughout the article, we interweave the shared and individual struggles as well as the successes across these 4 major types of msis. Woven throughout this narrative, we explore in-depth (a) the role of the federal government in both suppressing and elevating higher education for minorities, and (b) the impact of various groups and individuals on the growth of msis. It is through the historical legacy of msis that we showcase how these institutions came to represent the voices and concerns of minority communities to take control and manage their own education. We conclude the article with a snapshot of the place of each of the 4 types of msis in contemporary higher education and recommendation for future research. 2014 National association of diversity officers in higher education.