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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Could Alabama A&M be owed a half-billion by the state? US government agencies think so.

Could Alabama A&M be owed a half-billion by the state? US government agencies think so.

As a part of a concerted effort to address and possibly solve inequities in resources for HBCUs, a pair of government agencies have sent letters to state governors, alleging a 33-year run of negligence against Black colleges.

The US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Education sent letters to Alabama, including one to went to Gov. Kay Ivey, stating that Alabama A&M University is owed $527 million in missing funds between 1987 and 2020, according to a report from Kayode Crown of the Huntsville Times.

There is already pushback from state officials on how much AAMU is owed.

“When I’ve talked to them, they basically said we just did this general comparison of fall time students to budget allocations,” executive director of the state’s higher education commission Jim Purcell told the Times. “That’s such an amateuristic calculation compared to what academic costs are, and that academic program mix is probably the most crucial aspect of expenses.”

In the Huntsville Times piece, students mention filthy bathrooms and unsafe electrical outlets. The university itself asked for nearly $200 million in funding to address facility needs, including a pedestrian bridge that the school says “has reached the end of its life.”

Governor Ivey responded to the Agricultural and Education Department’s letter by shooting down the 1890 Land Grant. The second of two Morrill Acts largely responsible for establishing HBCUs nationwide no longer applied to how the state conducts business in 2024, as reported by 1819 News last November.

“In the letter, you cite an unconstitutional, Jim Crow-era federal law from 1890 that allowed states to establish so-called separate but equal universities for the education of African Americans. That law reflects a dark time in our nation’s history, and I am proud of the work that has been done since that time to shed the injustice of ‘separate but equal’ and to create opportunities for all students—no matter their race—to learn and thrive in Alabama.”

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