Coalition Rallies To Demand $577 Million For Maryland HBCUs

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(Martin Falbisoner)

Hundreds rallied in front of the Maryland State House on Wednesday in hopes of getting the governor to settle a 13-year-old lawsuit.

By Tanya A. Christian, ESSENCE

For the last 13 years, advocates for four of Maryland’s HBCUs have been in a fight to receive equitable funding for their institutions. The Washington Post reports that on Wednesday, the collective waged a public campaign in Annapolis to draw attention to the matter.

Hundreds of students, alumni, and Legislative Black Caucus members gathered outside of Gov. Larry Hogan’s office to demand that the state settle their lawsuit with the HBCUs for $577 million. This is what supporters believe should be paid to Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore after years of policies that they say undermined their institutions and impeded enrollment.

“We are here to fight for funds, we’re here for equal facilities, we’re here to fight for our future and what is long overdue,” Fedelis Tucker, a junior at Bowie State University yelled from a platform, according to The Post.

While the coalition says they will not settle for less than the proposed $577 million, Governor Hogan has drawn his “final offer” at $200 million. Those funds would be divided among the four colleges over the 10 years. Though up from the $40 million offered by the previous governor, lawmakers and advocates say it’s not enough. More funds are needed to rectify the years of inadequate funding that has left students with fewer programs and resources, and schools in danger of closing.

“The disparity in the programming and infrastructure gives historically white institutions a great advantage over our Black schools,” Earl S. Richardson, a former president of Morgan State and a member of the coalition told The Post.

The case is currently being decided upon by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which has yet to make a ruling. If the court rules in favor of the state, the coalition has the option to petition the Supreme Court to hear their case.

This article originally appeared in ESSENCE.

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