Five National Headlines Built for HBCU Influence

Historically black colleges should be sending out experts, editorials and creating impact on these critical issues in Black America

Historically black colleges should be sending out experts, editorials and creating impact on these critical issues in Black America

The only thing more frequent than rhetoric on why historically black colleges and universities need to stick around, is the opportunities institutions miss in sharing the research, expertise and community outreach which can bring the rhetoric closer to fact.

This has been an extraordinary summer for many HBCUs, which will welcome record numbers of new students, bank record amounts of dollars contributed to their causes, and bask in the renewed interest of a growing segment of Black America’s newfound emphasis on freedom.

There’s no better time for black colleges to really show what they are made of, for presidents to take strong stands on issues of import, for faculty to showcase their research and insight on these issues, and for students to lend active political influence to fixing the problems. Here are five areas, directly impacting black communities, where our schools should start tomorrow.

Community Policing

Justice Department to Release Blistering Report of Racial Bias by Baltimore Police
The report indicated that the frequency of arrests without probable cause was reflected in the fact that booking…www.nytimes.com

Baltimore may be the latest, but it isn’t the first and isn’t the worst city when it comes to uneven arrest, detainment and mistreatment of black folks. But unlike cities such as Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and others, Baltimore has two historically black colleges bookending its eastern and western districts.

Coppin State University and Morgan State University should be taking the lead on this issue, not with surface-level statements about the unacceptable nature of this problem, but why they exist as the institutions primed to solve them.

Black legislators and CSU President Maria Thompson have pushed for the state to move its police academy to Coppin State, in order to encourage stronger community ties between police and one of the city’s most vulnerable districts.

Mosby wants to explore moving police academy to Coppin State
City Councilman Nick J. Mosby is expected to introduce a bill during Monday's meeting to explore moving the Baltimore…www.wbaltv.com

It doesn’t hurt that Coppin’s police department is led by former city police chief Leonard Hamm, and the campus features one of the state’s emerging criminal justice programs, where Hamm just happens to teach.

College Funding

Black folks hurt like few others when it comes to opportunity deprived by a lack of resources. Louisiana State University President F. King Alexander has accumulated more ink on the subject of legislative assault on higher education, but the time is right for Southern University System President Ray Belton to make the case for federal intervention on behalf of public institutions.

The nation’s only historically black system has been publicly exhibited as a ravaged example of slashed appropriations along political lines, most notably, in the deterioration of its physical plant.

Did a moldy building kill 4 New Orleans college professors?
Four Southern University at New Orleans professors who died within three months of each other had all worked on the…www.nola.com

Audit: Southern University's campus has 'potentially hazardous conditions' due to lacking…
Southern University's leaky roofs, moldy walls, sewage backups and broken smoke detectors and sprinkler systems plague…www.theadvocate.com

The shame of Southern University's shocking physical decline
Southern University occupies one of Baton Rouge's most inspiring venues. It rests on a bluff north of downtown and…www.nola.com

LSU may have its problems, but its a strong guess that their students and faculty aren’t in danger as a result of learning and working in buildings which should have been razed or renovated 10–20 years ago. King can speak from global perspectives on the mash up of politics and money over higher education, but Belton can filibuster on it for days. Its time for he, and presidents in similar scenarios, to break the silence and to call for equitable funding and stakeholder advocacy for the issue.

Even if support is denied, the stronger symbol is at least making the passionate plea on behalf of the people who invest in the campus and what it means to the region and the nation.

Technology in Higher Education

As the industry of higher education is changing, discussion around how to make college more affordable, accessible and appealing is rapidly growing among all kinds of campuses. Community colleges are pioneering ways to offer free textbooks, online open courses and to use technology to improve learning outcomes.

But with the exception of free textbook initiatives at Paul Quinn College and Kentucky State University, HBCUs aren’t grabbing the headlines for a topic which means more to our students than any other group.

Provosts, deans, retention officials ought to be writing about, speaking about, and fundraising for support of our campuses getting familiar with the following terms:

These are terms which will earn schools grants, help to attract and graduate students, and most of all, modernize curriculum on campuses steeped in too much tradition and weighed down by too much inertia when it comes to innovation deficits in teaching.

And while that is a higher ed problem and not exclusive to HBCUs, our slow reaction in addressing this issue will harm our schools faster and with more devastating effect than other schools.

Poverty

At the core of any conversation involving improvement for black folks is the dialog about poverty. It is the root of all disparity in this country, even more than race.

Police violence, housing and financial scamming, health disparities, crime, broken families, poor secondary education are all symptoms of poverty — and there should be few, if any conversations on the subject in which HBCUs aren’t intimately involved or leading the intellectual capital building on the subject.

Measuring the impact of poverty in education
The U.S. Department of Education looks to take the lead on eradicating the issue Editor's note: This story is the third…www.educationdive.com

As the economic and intellectual engines of black communities nationwide, our schools are mission-mandated to address the symptoms of poverty, while converging teaching, research and advocacy to solve the core issues of the epidemic.

Political Capital

With an upcoming presidential election certain to yield big changes for African Americans, campuses should be more committed to educating citizens, spurring student activism, and helping to groom candidates for future political campaigns at local, state and national levels.

It is no longer enough to march and mobilize about political dealings which we don’t like, or initiatives which stand to harm us. North Carolina’s Senate Bill 873, budget stonewalling in Louisiana and Chicago have shown the world that legislators have a carefully crafted blueprint on how to kill HBCUs.

If alumni don’t wake up to notice the strategy, and aren’t compelled to help educate today’s students about the fragility of tomorrow’s sustainability, then all hope is lost.

Things are not okay with HBCUs, even with recent successes. The time has come for all of us to pounce on the most important issues affecting campus and community alike, in order to bolster brands and impact of the HBCU mission for years to come.