Maryland Governor Plays Politics with HBCU Lawsuit

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has proposed a $100 million resolution to the state’s legal battle against stakeholders from it’s four historically black colleges and universities, hoping that the appearance of a big number could sway HBCU constituents to endorse a swift end to the landmark lawsuit which could shape public higher education for generations.

Unfortunately, the proposal, which calls for money to be divided among Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore over a ten year period, doesn’t create equity among the HBCUs and Maryland’s predominantly white institutions.

In many ways, $2.5 million in extra spending for each school doesn’t come close to other states which have taken historic legal losses for marginalizing their public black colleges.

Mississippi’s landmark desegregation settlement came with a $500 million price tag to establish new programs, build new facilities and to help recruit more students at Jackson State University, Alcorn State University, and Mississippi Valley State University.

Hogan’s proposal, which doubles the state’s original offer to HBCU students and alumni, doesn’t outline any plans for program or capital development. In fact, it is only 10 percent of its own estimate for the costs of constitutional compliance. From a letter written by Hogan’s general counsel to the chair of Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus:


“The state put forth a $50 million proposal. The plaintiffs did not assign a cost in their written proposal, but represented to the court that they believed it would cost between $300 and $600 million. At that time, the State estimated that the plaintiffs’ proposal would cost between one and two billion dollars.”

And unlike the Ayers settlement, Hogan does not even want to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees.

The State of Alabama was ordered to pay a settlement similar to Mississippi’s decision to reverse vestiges of racism which hindered growth at Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University.

And yet Maryland, a Democratic stronghold with one of the largest concentrations of wealthy, educated black citizenry in the country, proposes that HBCUs only deserve $2.5 million in additional funding to erase generations of program duplication and lost tuition revenues and appropriations.

The offer isn’t good enough, and Hogan shouldn’t treat HBCU equality as a re-election maneuver to sway black voters, or to convince black lawmakers to remain silent.

If elected officials in Maryland refuse to learn from lessons taught in Mississippi, Alabama and every other state with an HBCU consent decree or HBCU-PWI merger, then those officials deserve to learn the hardest lesson of all; political defeat in November.