The State of Maryland Found Guilty of Not Adequately Funding the State's Four Historically Black Colleges and Universities
We have known it for awhile, but when a state is found guilty in a court of law of underfunding HBCUs, we take solace in knowing our premonitions were indeed true.
The state of Maryland through the Maryland Higher Education Commission was found guilty by federal judge Catherine C. Blake of not adequately funding the state’s four historically black colleges and universities — Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore — as it was funding the state’s white institutions.
The schools argued that they were not getting a fair shot compared to the state’s PWIs.
The fight had been 12-years in the making.
Maryland’s HBCUs claimed racial discrimination from the State of Maryland.
Representatives from Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore formed a coalition and filed a lawsuit in 2006.
In court documents, The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education claimed Maryland was violating state and federal laws.
The lawsuit alleged racial discrimination, unfair funding, and that PWIs were duplicating courses from HBCUs.
“There are so many of them that had benefited from stealing - and that’s the best way I can put it — stealing classes for the HBCUs and putting it on their campuses,” Dr. Marvin Cheatham, Sr. with the Maryland HBCUs Matters Coalition, said.
Dr. Cheatham had been at the forefront of advocating for the lawsuit.
“It says that here in the state of Maryland that racism is alive and well,” he told WUSA9.
Seven years later, in 2013, a federal judge ruled in favor of the HBCUs.
“Students who enter Maryland’s historically Black institutions – whether Black, White, or of other races – do not have an equal educational opportunity as those students who attend the state’s traditionally White institutions,” the initial opinion read.
In so many words, the judge said discrimination and course duplication was proven during the trial.
The judge ordered the HBCU’s coalition and the state to go into mediation to create niches or specialized programs and to work out the funding.
However, in 2016, the mediation failed.
The state and the HBCUs’ coalition went back to court in 2017, another plan was developed to find a remedy, and, then, the state filed for an appeal.
The appeal filing meant everything was on pause until an appeal judge reviewed the case.
“Here we are years and years after Brown vs Board of Education. We’re having to fight for our rights again because racism still exists here in America,” Dr. Cheatham said.
Ultimately, the HBCUs won and hopefully this can help level the playing field for institutions of higher education in Maryland.