By Kevin Daniels, Special to the AFRO
In the wake of the 152th Morgan State University’s (MSU) Homecoming, several students and alumni across HBCU campuses in the state of Maryland met to reflect upon the history of HBCUs in the country since the 1837 opening of Cheyney University in Pennsylvania. This happened before the Civil War, for the purpose of providing Black youth opportunity to become teachers or tradesmen. Students and alumni not only reflected on the legacy of HBCUs in Maryland, but also the history of MSU (1867) starting as a Centenary Biblical Institute by the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and its rich student legacy of civil rights.
Also, the discussion took place in the wake of the 400th anniversary of the first recorded forced arrival of Africans in the U.S. in Virginia since 1619. The resurgence of racial and discriminatory tension during the era of Former President Barack Obama and now President Donald Trump, but most importantly, in the midst of the current unresolved HBCU Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education Case that has lasted over a decade. This case has brought nationwide attention since U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake ruled the actions of the state indeed perpetuated segregation, and then the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled “the case can and should be settled.”
The students and alumni were asked, “Why does this matter to them?” For many, tears began to well up in their eyes as they went on to state that, “after many centuries and years of discrimination, even currently mobilizing other HBCU students in Maryland, community, faith leaders, fraternities, sororities, and protesting concerning this current case in court and Annapolis, it leaves them “exhausted that the struggle continues.” The struggle “to validate the authenticity and genius of Black lives in this country and now state.” Many stated that “they felt like this is not just a current issue but an ancestral issue that finally needs to be atoned for in this state.” They stated that “the stats have been laid out concerning who attends HBCUs, GPAs, test scores, financial income status, the need to expand international and diversity presence, and funding formulas for HBCUs as compared to PWIs; this case has been litigated in public and private modalities from news media to our very own President David Wilson, and regardless of the angle, it still leaves the state liable.”
However, the students and alumni stated with great resolve that, “In the spirit of our ancestors, they are up for and in the struggle for equity not only in this country but also in the state because the lives of those attending HBCUs still need to matter.”
Dr. Kevin Daniels is Professor of Social Work at Morgan State University and is Chair of the Civic Action and Social Concerns Committee (Minister’s Conference Baltimore/Vicinity).
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Afro-American Newspapers.