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WABE: Georgia Legislators Spotlight Underfunding of Public HBCUs
Three members of the Georgia House of Representatives met earlier this month to address the underfunding of Georgia’s public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“Today, I stand before [you] as a graduate from a historically Black college,” began Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex), flanked by Reps. Viola Davis (D-Stone Mountain) and Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta).
Scott attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, commonly known as FAMU.
“This call for action is not just about education,” she continued. “It’s about equity, opportunity and the future of countless students.”
Scott and her colleagues called their meeting because of a letter written last month to Gov. Brian Kemp from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack.
Cardona and Vilsack allege that Georgia has not funded the state’s predominantly Black land-grant university, Fort Valley State University (FVSU), on par with its predominantly white land-grant university, the University of Georgia (UGA).
The land-grant system began in 1862 with a federal investment in public higher education: the First Morrill Act.
The Act allowed states to establish public colleges funded by the development or sale of federal land grants.
However, by 1890, federal officials issued a Second Morrill Act because people of color were excluded from opportunities granted by the First. The Second Morrill Act took aim at the former Confederacy, requiring states to either establish separate land-grant institutions for Black students or demonstrate that admission to 1862 land-grant colleges was not restricted by race.