Sharpton: MD HBCU Coalition Bullet Points

Sharpton: MD HBCU Coalition Bullet Points

                                                        Sharpton:  MD HBCU Coalition Bullet Points


                                                       Maryland appeals lower court finding for HBCUs


After decades of disparities between Maryland Historically Black Institutions of higher education and their White counterparts, a coalition of HBI students, faculty and alumni filed a lawsuit against the state of Maryland in 2006 claiming that perpetuated policies and practices that result in HBIs having limited missions, inadequate facilities, underfunding and unnecessary program duplication between its HBIs and Traditionally White Institutions. The litigation was initially filed in state Court and later transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.   

In October 2013 Federal court judge Catherine Blake ruled that Maryland continues to practice unnecessary program duplication among HBIs and TWIs and thus, was operating a dual and segregated system of higher education in violation of the Constitution of the United States.  The court noted that the disparity in unique programs between the TWIs and the HBIs was 122 to 11 and that unnecessary program duplication in Maryland was worse than in Mississippi when the famous United States v Fordice case was argued.

Four years later (November 2017) Judge Blake issued a remedial order providing for the development of program niche’s or unique specialty areas at each of the HBIs by which those institutions would be known and identified. The judge further ordered that the State of Maryland cease and desist from further practice of unnecessary program duplication and that a special master be appointed to ensure compliance.

The State argues that in finding Maryland in violation of the law the Judge misinterpreted Fordice and to implement her judgement would do harm to traditionally White campuses. Accordingly, Maryland is appealing to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Judge Blake’s decision. The Coalition has responded with a cross appeal on the grounds that the judge’s reasoning behind the finding on unnecessary duplication also supports the limited mission and underfunding claims made by the Coalition.

A contingent of students, alumni and friends as well as members of African American sororities and fraternities will travel to Richmond, Virginia for the court hearing on Tuesday, December 11 at 9:30 in the morning.  

Meanwhile, HBIs and their students, faculty and staff continue to suffer the centuries old injustice of limited missions and programs; underinvestment and benign neglect while at the same time being “a gateway to opportunity and a stairway to excellence” for African Americans and other students regardless of race.