A Tale of Two Schools: BSC Fighting for $30 Million; Alabama A&M is Afraid to Fight for $527 Million
By: Donald V. Watkins
Coryrighted and Published on October 20, 2023
An Editorial Opinion
Birmingham Southern College filed a lawsuit Wednesday against State Treasurer Young Boozer after he rejected the college's application for a $30 million loan under the newly created Alabama Distressed Institutions of Higher Education Revolving Loan Program. The program was created this year in response to requests by officials, alumni, and supporters of Birmingham Southern, a 167-year-old private, historically white college.
Black Birmingham-area legislators led the fight to save Birmingham Southern. The city of Birmingham also kicked in an additional $5 million of taxpayer's money to aid the financially distressed college, which is walled off in a nearly all-black Birmingham neighborhood.
In contrast, not one black legislator has demanded that the state pay the $527 million debt the state of Alabama owes to Alabama A&M University due to 30 years of underfunding this land grant university. This $527 million debt was calculated by the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture. On September 18, 2023, both federal agencies notified Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey of the $527 million debt to Alabama A&M in a formal letter.
Dr. Daniel Wims, Alabama A&M’s president, and Dr. Roderick Watts, the university’s board chairman, have been as quiet as a church mouse about any plans to collect this $527 million. Dr. Wims, a closet MAGA Republican, has privately sent word to his MAGA political friends in Montgomery that he does not plan to initiate a genuine effort to collect this $527 million because Wims does not want to make Gov. Ivey mad at him.
Alabama A&M's trustees are afraid, as well. Most of them will NOT rock the boat because they want to be reappointed to the board by the governor and confirmed by the MAGA-controlled state legislature. The cost of their reappointment and confirmation is a de facto waiver of this $527 million debt.
At some point, the university is expected to announce a series of phony debt collection gestures for the purpose of gaslighting its faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the state’s black community into believing it is seriously seeking its $527 million.
Black state legislators have remained silent about this $527 million because none of them have the courage to fight for Alabama A&M’s money. What is more, these legislators NEVER fight for their black constituents as hard as they fight for white special interest groups that fund their political campaigns.
The real reason the State Treasurer rejected the Birmingham Southern loan request is this: It is difficult to justify the state of Alabama lending a historically white private college $30 million in tax dollars, while refusing to pay a historically black university the $527 million that is legitimately owed to it by the state, without prompting the U.S. Department of Justice to file a racial discrimination lawsuit in this matter.
Considering the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 8, 2023, judicial findings of ongoing and widespread racial discrimination by Alabama state officials against black Alabamians in the Milligan v. Allen redistricting case, Alabama would surely lose in a disparate higher educational funding lawsuit of this nature. The state would then have to pay Alabama A&M all of its $527 million in one payment.
It will not matter to the Department of Justice that black state legislators aided and abetted the state in discriminating in favor of Birmingham Southern. In Alabama, it is a well known fact that black legislators rarely fight to advance and protect the political interests of black constituents.
Absent prompt action by the full Alabama A&M board of trustees to restrain him, President Daniel Wims is poised to implement the most expensive sellout of blacks in higher education in Alabama’s history.