ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Georgia Senator Freddie Powell Sims is encouraging people to stay vigilant in their fight for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
This comes after a state lawmaker introduced a bill to merge three Georgia HBCUs, including Albany State University.
To a crowd of Albany State students and alumni, State Senator Freddie Powell Sims made clear what happened with the bill that started as 273, and is now 278.
The closing of this year's Georgia Legislative session left many questions concerning the future of three Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Former Senate Bill 273, now 278 would consolidate Albany State University, Fort Valley State University, and Savannah State Universities into a new state system.
“Not only are you taking our name away, you are taking away our identity, you’re taking away our school spirit, you are taking away our culture, you’re taking away our history,” said Kiana Jackson, who attended the forum aimed to help save HBCUs.
“It’s not a merger, it’s not just enrollment, it’s not just finances. It’s who we are. It shapes us into the people that we’re going to be,” Jackson explained.
Also in attendance was Georgia Senator Freddie Powell Sims.
She said this process started out as a study committee aimed to advance these institutions.
“And it morphed into or was changed into something that said SB 273,” said Sims.
At that point, she and other colleagues removed their name from the bill that eventually died.
But, Senator Lester Jackson continued to push for its passing.
“Senator Jackson is a colleague, and was a friend. We told him no, this was brought up last summer, and we told him that’s not what we’re studying," Sims explained.
Thursday night, many people had questions about this committee forming and whether it was designed with good intentions.
Sims assured them the committee wants to support HBCUs.
“We have so much to offer, and we have to live and tell the HBCU story,” said Sims.
Something Jackson said she understands wholeheartedly.
“We can’t just let people erase what our ancestors work hard for,” said Jackson.
Sims encouraged the group to stay on top of the happenings with this bill that won’t be back on the Senate floor until next year.
Until then, she said the committee wants to talk with students on these campuses to get a feel for what they need.