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Northam Cancels ‘Reconciliation Tour’ Launch at HBCU

WASHINGTON INFORMER — Northam canceled his plans Wednesday to appear at the historically Black college after a student leader asked him to back off for the time being.

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has canceled the launch of his “reconciliation tour” that was slated for Thursday at Virginia Union University in Richmond.

Northam canceled his plans Wednesday to appear at the historically Black college after a student leader asked him to back off for the time being, contending that the beleaguered governor’s blackface scandal would detract from a civil rights ceremony in honor of 34 VUU students arrested in 1960 after staging a lunchtime sit-in at a whites-only department store.

“We are in support of honest conversation around race and reconciliation to move our great state forward,” Jamon Phenix VUU student government president, said in a letter to Northam this week. “However, we feel as though your attendance takes away from the historical significance of our commemoration of the Richmond 34.”

Richmond 34 member Elizabeth Johnson Rice, who disagreed with the effort to dissuade the governor’s visit, said Phenix never consulted the group.

“I represent many who extend this invitation to you to come and witness and celebrate this 59th anniversary with us,” Rice wrote in a separate letter to Northam. “We also want your presence to be a learning tool for atonement and the need for forgiveness for all of us.”

Northam, who has hardly been seen in public since the start of a national firestorm over a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page from 1984, said he would honor Phenix’s request and accept the SGA’s invitation to speak at a later time on issues of “race, reconciliation and equity.”

“I respect the wishes of the student body,” Northam tweeted Wednesday. “In lieu of my attendance, I will host the Richmond 34 at the Executive Mansion on Friday to honor their bravery and courage.”

This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer

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Activism

Holy Names University Says it Will Close; Local Leaders Want Campus to Remain Center for Higher Ed

“We have been doing our best to find a partner to keep the university functioning and continue HNU’s mission,” said HNU Board Chairperson Steven Borg in the press release. “While we’ve had interest in long-term collaboration from potential partners, we do not have the type of interest that would sustain HNU in continuing to offer its own programs and services, so we are forced to make the difficult decision to close and designate a transfer institution in the best interest of our students.”

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Aerial view of Holy Names University.
Aerial view of Holy Names University.

HNU’s site could become a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) campus, said Post Publisher Paul Cobb

By Ken Epstein

Holy Names University (HNU), which has served Oakland for 154 years, earning deep respect as one of the nation’s most diverse post-secondary educational centers, offering bachelors’ degrees, training teachers, social workers, and nurses, announced this week it will close permanently at the end of next semester, leaving the city with no major university since the recent loss of Mills College.

Responding to the news, HNU students and staff spoke at Tuesday’s Oakland City Council meeting, seeking to rescue the city’s higher-education pipeline. The council, passing a resolution authored by Councilmember Carroll Fife and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, went on record calling for the university to work with the Oakland community to ensure that the beautiful 60-acre campus can become a home for another university, rather than be sold to a real estate developer to build an exclusive residential enclave.

HNU’s administration, mostly silent as news and rumors about the university swirled around campus for the past few months, deeply worrying staff and students, made the announcement after the school closed last Friday for a holiday break, and no students were around.

The university’s Board of Trustees revealed their plans Monday in a press release produced by Sam Singer public relations. Singer has a long history as an aggressive representative of corporate clients, including Chevron in its legal battle with indigenous communities in Ecuador’s Amazon forests, and Wedgewood, the real estate company that owned the home in West Oakland taken over by Moms for Housing.

According to the press release, the Board of Trustees blamed COVID-19 and an economic downturn that disproportionately impacted HNU students for the university’s predicament.

“HNU has worked tirelessly to find pathways to help continue its mission but was forced by financial circumstances to cancel its NCAA sports programs as of the end of spring season, issue WARN ACT notices to staff beginning Dec. 1, and give layoff notices to 32 employees effective at the end of January/early February,” the press release said.

“We have been doing our best to find a partner to keep the university functioning and continue HNU’s mission,” said HNU Board Chairperson Steven Borg in the press release. “While we’ve had interest in long-term collaboration from potential partners, we do not have the type of interest that would sustain HNU in continuing to offer its own programs and services, so we are forced to make the difficult decision to close and designate a transfer institution in the best interest of our students.”

The press release said HNU is working with Dominican College in San Rafael to offer “specific pathways for students to complete their degrees at Dominican.”

HNU is also talking to other institutions to support the school’s Kodály Music Program and the Raskob Learning Institute and Day School, which “will either operate independently or in partnership with a new institution after this school year,” the press release said.

Explaining the financial hole that is crippling HNU’s operations, Borg said that there is “$49 million in debt on HNU’s property, but as a 65-year-old campus, the costs of deferred maintenance and compliance upgrades could be over $200 million.”

Tuesday’s City Council resolution, written originally while Council members and community leaders still hoped to reach out to the HNU administration to help avert the school’s closure, was modified to emphasize the need to save the campus as a site for a different institution that will graduate Oakland students and provide trained staff for local employers that need well-trained workers who are culturally competent.

The revised resolution said the Council and the community would work with HNU “to ensure that higher education continues at the current site.”

So far, the HNU administration has not responded to city leaders who have reached out with offers to help.

Many HNU staff and students as well as local residents spoke at the council meeting calling for the university to work with the community to continue higher education at the site.

Student Kayla Argueta said, “(Closing HNU) is uprooting lives. I am urging the Council and the community to make sure this stays an education institution. To see HNU closed down or sold to developers is terrifying to think of. It is an incredibly important part of Oakland, and something must be done to make sure the legacy lives on.”

Jim Stryker, chair of the HNU Faculty Senate, told the Council, “Thank you for the resolution. It is deeply appreciated by the faculty, staff, and students.”

Polly Mayer, vice chair of HNU ‘s Faculty Senate, said she was “saddened by the opportunities we are taking away from our students and faculty. It’s really a tragedy to see this educational institution close.”

Oakland Post Publisher Paul Cobb said, “I would hope the City Council and City of Oakland would work closely with the County of Alameda to support the educational infrastructure of the City of Oakland with hundreds of millions of dollars, like they are now spending on infrastructure for a stadium.”

He suggested they could partner with a Historically Black College or University at the site, “since HNU is the most integrated university in the country right now.”

Rev. Cheryl Ward called for the facility and property to be used for higher education purposes. “We all know there is a lack of education institutions that provide housing. The number of students who are unhoused is unconscionable in this city. Should we consider dismantling higher education in that space, since it provides housing?”

HNU staffer Nancy Schulz said “HNU is a university that really walks its talk. We have community partners and discounted tuition.” It has also provided the region with trained mental health workers.

In her remarks, Councilmember Fife, who attended HNU, said, “It’s an amazing school. It was a safe place and sanctuary for me as a working mom.”

In September, Fife was recognized as the institution’s Alumni of the Year.

Vice Mayor Kaplan said, “It would be incredibly problematic for the community to lose access” to the institution that provides the city with educational opportunities and a well-trained workforce.

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#NNPA BlackPress

Biden Administration Focuses Money on HBCUs After Bomb Threats

NNPA NEWSWIRE — On March 16, in a small auditorium at the Old Executive Office Building next door to The White House, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke on the plan. The allocations, coming from existing money from the Department of Education budget, comes to about $150,000 per school.

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By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Shifting funds from the Department of Education to assist Historically Black Colleges and Universities experiencing sporadic bomb threats, several top officials in the Biden Administration spoke out. Over the last two months repeated bomb threats have been made against several HBCUS including Morgan State, and  Howard University.

On March 16, in a small auditorium at the Old Executive Office Building next door to The White House, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke on the plan. The allocations, coming from existing money from the Department of Education budget, comes to about $150,000 per school.

HBCUS have received a record amount of funding from the federal government over the last year into the billions.

“At the Justice Department, we believe the time to address illegal threats is when they are made, not after tragedy strikes. We also know that the threat against HBCUs and their students has deep, historical roots… In the over 150 years since the founding of the Department, the threats posed by hate-fueled criminal acts have taken on many different forms. But our task remains the same: to use our resources and our legal authorities to prevent and confront bias-motivated violence and threats of violence,” the Attorney said in front of education officials, reporters and supporters of HBCUs.

Black Press USA asked Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond about the historic allocations.

“If you look at our Administration, if you look at what we’re doing we’re making sure we empower our universities. They’ve done great with less for far too long,” Richmond said standing in the White House driveway.

Members of the CBC received a briefing on the bomb threats from Department of Justice officials in early March. In an era of divisive politics and a former President, Donald Trump, who negatively openly targeted Black members of Congress and cities with large Black populations such as Baltimore and Philadelphia, concerns for HBCUs have remained high.

“The threats made against our nations Historically Black Colleges and Universities are far from new, and I commend the Administration for finally allocating the necessary attention and resources to HBCUs as we work to end the string of threats and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson in a statement.

“Our administration is sending a very clear message that intimidation will not stand and we will not be intimidated. We will do everything in our power to protect all our communities from violence and from hate,” said Vice President Harris.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

The post Biden Administration Focuses Money on HBCUs After Bomb Threats first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Crime

Assemblymember Demands Probe into Bomb Threat at California’s Only HBCU

Earlier this month, there were bomb threats at approximately eight historically Black colleges across the country: Spelman College in Atlanta; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Florida Memorial University; Norfolk State University in Virginia; North Carolina Central University; Prairie View A&M University in Texas; and Xavier University in Louisiana.

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Founded in 1966, CDU has trained more than 8,000 health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and public health specialists.
Founded in 1966, CDU has trained more than 8,000 health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and public health specialists.

By California Black Media

Following a racist bomb threat Jan. 11 that disrupted operations and terrified students, faculty and staff at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) in Los Angeles, Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate.

CDU is the only historically Black college in California. It is also designated a “Minority-Serving Institution” by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights.

“As I heard about the violent threat leveled against California’s current and future doctors, nurses, and first responders, I was utterly enraged and pissed off! How can anyone threaten to take the lives of those who have committed themselves to provide life-saving services? This makes me sick to my stomach,” said Gipson in a statement.

Located in the Willowbrook community in Los Angeles, CDU prides itself on its high enrollment of minority students. Its student body is 80% students of color. About 71% of its faculty is Black, Latino or another ethnic minority.

“In light of the seriousness of this threat and the threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the nation, I’ve contacted the Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Department of Justice, and President Biden to take action against this racist attack NOW,” continued Gipson.

Earlier this month, there were bomb threats at approximately eight historically Black colleges across the country: Spelman College in Atlanta; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Florida Memorial University; Norfolk State University in Virginia; North Carolina Central University; Prairie View A&M University in Texas; and Xavier University in Louisiana.

On Jan. 11, CDU officials say they discovered a bomb threat that had been e-mailed to a generic university e-mail address on Jan. 9.

The sender identified himself as a “Neo Nazi Fascist” and wrote: “…I will detonate all 3 of the Titanium Nitrate Sulfuric bombs. My reasoning … I want to show the Black Population what the White Man can do, we will take back our land!”

“The threat claimed that explosive devices had been planted on the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science campus in South Los Angeles. Out of an abundance of caution, CDU immediately closed the entire campus and notified authorities,” read a CDU statement.

CDU Campus Safety and local law enforcement completed a review of the grounds and facilities and determined that the campus is safe.

The campus reopened for operations Jan. 12, according to Jonathan Zaleski, CDU director of Communications.

Founded in 1966, CDU has trained more than 8,000 health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and public health specialists.

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