HBCU advocates fight Senate Bill 278

Updated: May. 15, 2019 at 7:30 AM EDT
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany leaders and alumni of three South Georgia Historically Black Colleges and Universities are banding together to fight a proposed a state bill.

Senate Bill 278 would take the schools out of the University System of Georgia and create a system of its own.

Community leaders said it is time to stop being polite and stand up for what they believe is right and what’s right in their eyes is not conjoining three of South Georgia’s HBCUs.

adjunct professor James Pratt (WALB)
adjunct professor James Pratt (WALB)

“No, no, we ain’t ask how you wanna do it, we don’t want it, and you gotta be vocal,” said one Albany State University alumnus.

There was a call to action at Tuesday’s forum on the potential consolidation of several South Georgia Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Community leaders said they believe Senate Bill 273 is threatening the future of Albany State, Savannah State and Fort Valley State University, as the three would become Georgia Agricultural & Mechanical University.

Many alumni and faculty simply don’t want it.

“A lot of people say we don’t need HBCU’s anymore, that’s over, racism is done, and that’s not accurate, that’s not true, we see it around the country,” James Pratt, ASU adjunct professor, said.

Senate Bill 278 seemed to blindside the community. What started as a resolution to study the progress of HBCUs in South Georgia shifted into a bill in what seemed like an overnight process.

“A lot of people were caught off guard by this bill, they were unfamiliar with this collaboration between HBCUs and this consolidation,” Pratt said.

Pratt said the consolidation itself is scary, but the results could be catastrophic.

“We see the consolidation efforts across the nation, Maryland and Mississippi which has decreased funding for HBCUs, decreased resources, decreased recruitment and the admissions for students that need the history and culture of HBCUs,” Pratt said.

All at the forum agreed, that something must be done to save the history and culture of all three institutions.

“HBCUs provide a space that is steeped in the history — a culture, a deep culture that’s necessary for students to feel safe, believed in and well educated,” Pratt said.

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