After withholding funding for decades, the state of Tennessee owes Tennessee State University (TSU) a public HBCU (Historically Black College and University) well over $500 million.
A bipartisan legislative committee determined the state has failed to fund TSU in matched land grants since the 1950’s.
According to NPR, the committee also believes the state has withheld anywhere from $154 million to $544 million from the HBCU. And they also believe that number is much closer to exceeds the $500 million plateau.
Tennessee Owes Its State HBCU More Than Half A Billion Dollars https://t.co/KKZgZsiS4M
— Black Enterprise (@blackenterprise) May 17, 2021
When TSU was founded in 1912, it was designated land-grant university, meaning the state is required to match federal funds sent to the university every year. However, the university has been underfunded for decades as the state of Tennessee has starved the university of vital funds.
“We are pleased with the findings of the land-grant study committee and excited about the possibilities of what this means for the University, “TSU President Glenda Glover said.
“TSU will be made stronger and more vibrant, which will benefit all of Tennessee.”
For HBCUs around the country to be severely underfunded is nothing new.
HBCUs are vital to the education of Black Americans and compared to other public or private universities they’re always getting the short end of the stick as it pertains to financial support.
Another part in the systemic racism that has plagued this country for centuries. These universities account for 3% of four-year nonprofit colleges, however, 80 percent of Black judges, 50 percent of lawyers and doctors, 25 percent of Black undergraduates who earn degrees in STEM from HBCUs.
This also isn’t the first time a state has starved an HBCU. The state of Maryland will pay $577 million over 10 years to settle a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination and underfunding of the state’s four HBCUs (Morgan State, Bowie State, Coppin State and University of the Maryland Eastern Shore).
Mackenzie Scott the former wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, gave more than $1 billion to HBCUs amid the Black Lives Matter protest and a commitment to racial equality. Scott gave more than $380 million to 17 HBCUs. Oprah Winfrey also donated $2 million to TSU last summer.
State Rep. Harold Love Jr., a TSU alum himself and chairman of the bipartisan committee, said he hopes TSU has a plan in place to address the funding shortfall they’ve been experiencing until they begin receiving these payments.”