Lawmakers and institutional leaders from Maryland’s four historically Black colleges and universities ended 15 years of litigation and tense negotiations with the signing of a bill granting $577 million over ten years to the HBCUs.
The funding is a remedy to resolve decades of illegal program duplication that a federal judge ruled in 2013 had created a racially separate system of higher education for Black and white students in the state.
State Sen. Charles Sydnor III, who drafted the original language of the legislation in 2019, called the signing a historic model of bipartisan support for HBCUs.
“I applaud Governor Hogan for helping the state to meet its obligations for fairness, access, and opportunity for students throughout Maryland,” Sydnor said in a statement. “When I first presented legislation as a member of the House of Delegates, I did so with the objective of supporting Maryland’s progressive goal of insuring racial equity in higher education, an essential part of how we continue to work to improve our workforce, to raise the quality of life and to boost economic outcomes in our rural and metropolitan areas statewide.”
“While the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted progress on the bill’s signing, constituents and my colleagues in the House and Senate never considered altering or abandoning this important legislation, which twice passed through these houses with near-unanimous support. Maryland’s executive branch has provided a historic legislative intervention in a civil rights dispute — the first of its kind in a broad history of education cases to be argued and adjudicated in the effort to protect constitutional rights for all citizens.”
The bill is the first of its kind in the nation’s history to offer a legislative remedy to segregation and discriminatory policy impact on public HBCUs seeking relief through state or federal courts.