In a letter to Maryland Legislative Black Caucus chair Cheryl Glenn, Governor Larry Hogan offered to provide Historically Black Universities $100 million over 10 years to settle the HBCU Coalition case. Lawyers for the State had represented to the Court that they estimated the costs of the Coalition’s plan to address the constitutional violations found by a federal court in 2013 would be $1 to $2 billion.

Dr. Marvin L. Cheatham

The Governor’s offer is like offering the cost of a single building to be divided among the four HBCU campuses over a ten-year period.  Said another way, the offer would hardly cover the 10-year costs of establishing the school of Veterinary Medicine proposed for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore alone.

It is clearly a political ploy designed to help the governor in a critical election year.  Settlement of a similar case in Mississippi over 20 years ago, amounted to $503 million for three HBCUs, and a federal court has ruled that the duplication violation in Maryland was worst than it was in Mississippi.   

For Governor Hogan to think that the costs of settlement in today’s dollars would be far less rather than much more than the Mississippi costs defies reality and is insulting to the most basic standards of equal justice. Worst, his proposal completely ignores the Court’s framework for a constitutionally mandated remedy and amounts to nothing more than a continuation of the State’s recalcitrance and resistance since the era of official state-sponsored segregation.

I am sure that the attorneys for the HBCU Coalition will not be dazzled by the sound of the governor’s offer. Instead they will focus on the mathematics of a $100 million offer against a $1 to $2 billion need to make the HBCUs as competitive as the White campuses in attracting students of all races.

Twelve years debating whether HBCUs and their students should have parity with other colleges and universities is ridiculous; but to continue it for another day is simply unacceptable given the racial tensions now brewing in the country.

Dr. Marvin L. Cheatham, Civil Rights and Law Consultant and Convener of Maryland HBCU Matters Coalition, [email protected];

President – Matthew A. Henson Neighborhood Association

C.E.O. – Matthew Henson Community Development Corporation

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