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Jackson State University campus

Source: Facebook.com/JacksonStateU

Alumni association leaders from three historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Mississippi named in a new bill that would shut down multiple public colleges in the state are appealing to lawmakers to reconsider the proposed legislation.

In a letter to state legislators obtained by NewsOne, alumni from Alcorn State University, Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University emphasized the importance of HBCUs not just for Black people but also for Mississippi’s livelihood, noting that the three schools have “have produced countless leaders, innovators, and changemakers whose contributions have enriched our state on every level for over 373 years, collectively.”

More from the letter written by Densel Fleming of Alcorn State, Patrease Edwards of Jackson State and Jerry Redmond of Mississippi Valley State:

These institutions are economic engines, generating jobs and stimulating local economies. They are centers of research and innovation, tackling some of society’s most pressing challenges. Most importantly, they are beacons of hope and possibility, transforming lives and empowering generations of Mississippians to achieve their full potential. In fact, many graduates of these universities have chosen to diversity their educational experience by attending post baccalaureate programs (Graduate School or Doctoral) at other state institutions to include the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State, and the University of Southern Mississippi. This significantly increases the need for all the current public institutions of higher learning in the state of Mississippi, to include these HBCUs.

The letter concluded by urging Mississippi lawmakers to oppose Senate Bill 2726 by “working together to shift the focus from closure to investing to further strengthen these vital institutions.”

Read the full letter below:

Letter from Mississippi HBCU alumni association leaders

Senate Bill 2726

Senate Bill 2726 was put forth by state Senator John Polk, a Republican.

If passed, it would require the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (BTSIHL) to select three schools for closure by June 2025. Before announcing their decision, the BTSIHL is expected to carefully assess factors such as enrollment data, economic impact and the types of degrees offered at each institution to see if they have positively impacted residents of the state. There will be a mandatory listening session held on the campus of each institution to address concerns about the pending bill. If the act is approved, it is expected to go into effect on July 1.

Mississippi Valley State University

Fort Valley State University. | Source: Facebook.com/valley.state

During an interview with HBCU Buzz, Jennifer Riley Collins, a HUD Regional Administrator and alumni of Alcorn State University, said there could be grave consequences if Senate Bill 2726 passes.

“The criteria stated within the bill places Alcorn and other HBCUs at high risk if the bill becomes law. This bill does not need to make it out of the current house,” Collins penned to the outlet. The HBCU advocate called for alumni and students of the affected schools to stand up and fight back against the proposed legislation.

“It is our First Amendment right to use our collective and individual voices to speak up for the continued viability of the school we love. Please contact legislators and call for the bill to die,” she added.

Author, motivational speaker, community activist and CEO of a global consulting firm, Duvalier Malone, who is also a Jackson State alum, further expressed the urgency of the moment in an op-ed for the Mississippi Free Press.

“Senate Bill 2726 isn’t just a bill; it’s a seed planted that has the potential to threaten our heritage, rights and dreams,” Malone wrote. “It goes against everything we’ve fought to achieve in education and equality. We can’t let it pass.”

Alcorn State University

Source: Facebook.com/AlcornStateU

The consequences of closing Mississippi’s public HBCUs

The potential closure of these Mississippi HBCUs raises crucial questions about the future of minority education access, cultural heritage, economic impact and the pursuit of knowledge and innovation. Historically, HBCUs have been beacons of hope for African American and minority students, offering opportunities for higher education when other avenues were often closed. The closure of these institutions could severely limit educational access for minority students, particularly those from marginalized backgrounds.

HBCUs also play a vital role in preserving and promoting African American culture, heritage and identity. They provide supportive environments where students can celebrate their heritage and feel a sense of belonging. The closure of HBCUs would not only disrupt these communities but also erase a significant part of African American history and culture.

This is America.

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The post Mississippi HBCU Alumni Appeal To Lawmakers Over New Bill To Shut Down State’s Public Colleges appeared first on NewsOne.

Mississippi HBCU Alumni Appeal To Lawmakers Over New Bill To Shut Down State’s Public Colleges  was originally published on newsone.com