Trial Begins in Federal Lawsuit Alleging Continued Segregation at Md. Universities

Childs Walker, Baltimore Sun, January 3, 2011

Alumni and students from Maryland’s four historically black universities took their long-held view that the state perpetuates racial segregation to court Tuesday, arguing that their institutions are underfunded.

The federal lawsuit calls on the state to pay for improvements at the four schools—Morgan StateCoppin StateBowie State and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore—that would make them more competitive with traditionally white peers. It also calls for the dismantling of programs at traditionally white schools that “unnecessarily” duplicate programs at the historically black universities.

The case has drawn national attention from legal scholars and advocates for historically black institutions, who are intrigued by its implications for federal enforcement of laws aimed at ensuring equality in higher education. For Maryland, it revives decades-old questions of whether the state has done enough to support and protect its historically black institutions.

“Maryland has not eradicated the vestiges of segregation,” Michael D. Jones, a Washington attorney who represents the plaintiffs, a coalition of students and alumni from the state’s historically black universities, said during opening statements Tuesday.

Baltimore attorney Craig A. Thompson, arguing for the state, countered that historically black universities have fared well in recent budgets and that minority students have far more opportunities at all of Maryland’s public universities than they did even a few decades ago.

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The plaintiffs argue that Maryland has not met its obligations under United States v. Fordice, a 1992 case in which the Supreme Court ordered states to eliminate all practices and policies that trace back to the segregation era and that continue to foster inequalities.

In his opening remarks Tuesday, Jones said the state has failed in several key areas. It’s not enough, he said, for Maryland to fund historically black universities more equally in 2012. Jones said the universities need far greater infusions of money to make up for the historical disparities that left them with subpar library and lab facilities. He said historically black universities also need more money because they are charged with providing access and opportunities for low-income families.

Jones said an expert who will testify for the plaintiffs estimates that between 1990 and 2009, historically black universities should have received an additional $644 million in state appropriations. He said the universities should have received another $450 million to help with low-income students.

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He said his case will also target Maryland’s decisions on program duplication, a longtime source of friction between historically black institutions and their traditionally white peers. The argument is that historically black schools can never gain equal footing if their most popular and distinctive programs are replicated elsewhere.

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  • Anonymous

    It revives the decades-old questions of whether the sate has done enough to support and protect it’s historically black universities.

    That which is historically black must remain black. That which is historically white must be destroyed. sbn

    sbuffalonative

  • Anonymous

    At least the students watching this case are getting an education in how the world really works?

  • The only way to make these four schools “more competitive” with their “traditionally white” state schools (is there a traditionally white college in Maryland?) is to make the four HBCUs less black and more white.

    If uber-liberal Maryland can’t “erase the last vestiges of segregation,” then I guess they can ever be erased.

  • This lawsuit really wants to destroy programs at white universities, because it says they “unnecessarily duplicate” programs at HBCU’s? Am I interpreting this correctly? They want to get rid of the Engineering Department at the U. of Maryland, because it might “unnecesarily duplicate” the Engineering Department at Coppin State?! Do you not see how laughable and pathetic that is?

    To no one’s surprise, they ask for more and more money. That’s what it ALWAYS boils down to, with Bantus.

  • Mike

    I guess you can wonder why people including myself want to leave MD. because it so uber-liberal like Q.D. just said.

  • Anonymous

    So Maryland’s flagship majority white universities, by enacting black studies programs, recruiting higher scoring black students, and hiring higher end black professors, are actually engaging in a sinister plot to perpetuate segregation.   Hm.  So if Maryland had REFUSED to have Black Studies and made no effort to bring in high end black students or faculty, that would have been better for blacks?  Oh, no.  OH I SEE.   No matter WHAT we white people do, blacks will complain, sue, demand apologies while withholding forgiveness, and above all demand MORE MORE MORE white supplied money and cushy jobs.

  • In his opening remarks Tuesday, Jones said the state has failed in
    several key areas. It’s not enough, he said, for Maryland to fund
    historically black universities more equally
    in 2012. Jones said the
    universities need far greater infusions of money
    to make up for the
    historical disparities that left them with subpar library and lab
    facilities. He said historically black universities also need more money
    because they are charged with providing access and opportunities for
    low-income families.

    So, the “historically black universities” want to be more equal than the other universities. Interesting.

  • B

    What do they mean they can never gain equal footing if their programs are replicated elsewhere? To me, this is nothing but an admission of their inferiority.

  • I think this means all “Black Studies” programs at all not HBCUs in Maryland need to go.  I am sure that will be fine with almost all the students at the not HBCUs in Maryland.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau says that Maryland is 29 percent Black. Blacks in Maryland who want Black colleges should receive no funding and instead should fund their own Black colleges as private institutions. Something tells me though that investing in private colleges isn’t a Top 100 way for a Bantu to use his or her money.