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1890 HBCUs Are On The Front Lines of Climate Crisis
We cannot put an end to the climate crisis and secure environmental justice without the brightest and most diverse networks researchers, educators, and advocates taking the lead. This is where 1890 Land Grant Universities come in.
This network of 19 historically Black colleges and Universities (HBCUs) was not only designed to serve as the cornerstone for the education and the production of STEAM (“Science Technology Engineering Arts & Mathematics”) leaders and worker forces for their respective states, they were designed to center the Black community in that effort.
Land Grant Institutions were designed to generate the talent needed to provide the agricultural, technological, and scientific needs of their localities and the nation through unique expertise. They were also designed to facilitate the economic mobility needed to bolster the middle class during the industrial revolution. Land Grant Institutions uniquely thrive at the intersections of environmental research, technical application and economic success.
The problem with the original system of Land Grant Institutions was that it left Black students behind. In 1890, new legislation was passed that required states to provide land grant school educational opportunities to Black students. As a result, nineteen Land Grant Institutions serving Black scholars were created. These schools now boast some of the most respected and prolific environmental research programs in the nation. And the work they are doing could be the key to ending both environmental injustice and the climate crisis.
At Florida A&M, for example, direct assistance and educational support are offered to farmers looking to increase their productivity and profits while mitigating the impacts of climate change.
Meanwhile, Lincoln University is working to provide solution to the water-related problems affecting the people of Missouri and across the nation.
At North Carolina A&T, researchers are examining how temperature increases will affect the intensity of storms and flooding as well as the issues that will be presented as climate change increases the rates of pest, plant diseases, and invasive weeds. They are also teaching farmers how to identify and address these problems.
Prairie View A&M leads the effort to combat climate change through carbon sequestration. And Tuskegee University is utilizing its #Earth2TU program to bring researchers, experts, students and community members from across the nation to discuss issues such as hemp production, forestry, and the importance of centering Indigenous and Black leaders and traditions in sustainability movements. At West Virginia State University, scholars lead a project that collects data from 90 farmers, producers, landowners, schools and organization to create reports and personalized weather readings for the state overall and people working in the agricultural field specifically. These reports will help individuals and communities prepare for changes in weather and climate patterns.
This incredible work barely scratches the surface of what 1890 Land Grant Universities are doing to help combat the climate crisis, bring communities together to conserve and create environmental health, and ensure that businesses and industries are profitable and environmentally responsible. 1890 Land Grant Universities have always brought together the brightest minds from the most diverse communities to understand, work with, and conserve the environment and the communities that need to thrive within it. We are leaders in the efforts to combat climate change. We are leaders in the efforts to secure environmental justice. And, of course, #WeAre19Strong.