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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Pure Cowardice Keeps Alabama A&M and 15 Other Land-Grant HBCUs from Collecting $12.8 Billion Owed to Them by Their Respective States

By: Donald V. Watkins

May 13, 2024

IMAGE: The campus of Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama.

An Editorial Opinion

On September 18, 2023, the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture declared that Alabama A&M University and 15 other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are owed $12.8 billion.  The money owed to each HBCU is set out in a letter to the governor of the state where the land-grant HBCU is located. The money represents the aggregate amount due to all 16 HBCHs that were underfunded over the last 30 years.


According the the Departments of Education and Agriculture , the list of HBCUs entitled to this money and the amount owed to each one are as follows:

Alabama - Alabama A&M University - $527.3 million

Arkansas - University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff - $330.9 million

Florida - Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University - $1.97 billion

Georgia - Fort Valley State University - $603 million

Kentucky - Kentucky State University - $172 million

Louisiana - Southern University and A & M College - $1.1 billion each

Maryland - University of Maryland Eastern Shore - $321 million

Mississippi - Alcorn State University - $257 million

Missouri - Lincoln University - $361 million

North Carolina - North Carolina A&T State University - $2 billion

Oklahoma - Langston University - $418.9 million

South Carolina - South Carolina State University - $470 million

Tennessee - Tennessee State University - $2.1 billion

Texas - Prairie View A & M University - $1.1 billion

Virginia - Virginia State University - $277.5 million

West Virginia - West Virginia State University - $852.6 million

Adjusted for updated financial data, the total amount owed exceeds $13.7 billion.

No HBCU on the list has initiated litigation to collect the money it is owed. 

Instead, the presidents and trustees of these 16 HBCUs have engaged in a display of cowardice, malfeasance, dereliction of duty, and sellout that would cause them to be criminally prosecuted if this unparalleled breach of their fiduciary obligations had occurred at historically white colleges and universities (HWCUs).  

Instead of collecting the money, these HBCUs are engaging in subterfuge and backflips to distract their institutional stakeholders from discovering the sad fact that they have sold them out to the MAGA power-players in their respective states -- to the tune of $12.8 billion.

For example, at its commencement services two weekends ago, Florida A&M University publicly announced its participation in what turned out to be a $237 million flimflam scheme that quickly fell apart. The university is owed $1.9 billion, but will not go to Tallahassee to collect this legitimate debt.

On the same day the $12.8 billion indebtedness was announced in Washington, D.C., Alabama A&M University's president reportedly informed Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey's offices that A&M would not pursue the collection of its $527 million debt.

Last week, Alabama A&M announced a highly-suspect $52 million plan to acquire a 192-acre defunct HWCU college campus in Birmingham, knowing full well that A&M does not have the financial wherewithal to acquire, own, operate, and maintain the targeted campus. The bogus press announcement was intended to divert public attention away from the fact that Alabama A&M has not collected one dime of its $527 million debt.


Alabama A&M, Florida A&M, and the other 14 HBCUs on the list of institutional creditors have voluntarily forfeited their right to collect the $12.8 billion debt owed to them, and they did so without a legal fight.  They all engaged in this suicidal forfeiture exercise to appease the MAGA power-players who control the governorships and/or state legislatures in their respective states.


None of these 16 HBCUs on this list is financially secure enough to forfeit its portion of this $12.8 billion.


Finally, no group of blacks in the history of America has ever forfeited $12.8 billion of money that was legitimately owed to them without one hell of a fight.

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