Photo courtesy of TSU Twitter account
Morehouse College handed down 13 layoffs, 54 two-month furloughs and 194 pay cuts on June 1, according to The Undefeated. The school had little choice, with an estimated 25% decline in enrollment estimated for the fall. COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on Black people and certainly, Black institutions of higher learning. Harvard has an endowment of $41 billion, chances are they’ll be fine. Black colleges, however, are walking a much tighter rope and they were doing so well before COVID.
Homecomings and classics mean that much more to HBCUs, than PWIs. Not only do they have tremendous value culturally but economically, as well. Indeed, many alums who don’t cut checks throughout the year buy game tickets and leave a “love offering,” during a big weekend on campus. North Carolina A&T State, Winston-Salem State and North Carolina Central have already canceled homecoming events. Classics in Baton Rouge and Memphis have been canceled, also. As these announcements pour in, the revenue shortfalls continue to add up.
Even with a new, permanent funding source from the President and Congress, HBCUs have been historically underfunded. Surviving, doing more with less and walking a tightrope are very much the norm, for Black colleges. Still, COVID-19 represents a massive straw that could break some schools, institutions already burdened by a straw house. As always, Black people cannot look to others to save their institutions: Black institutions are the responsibility of Black people, ultimately. It’s time to step up and rally around the colleges and universities that have contributed so much to us. No more talk, it’s time for action.
Find the HBCU located closest to you geographically and give a small amount, each month: $5, $10, it doesn’t matter, just do it.
It’s time to stop buying gear from Ohio State, Florida State and Notre Dame. If you must rock a sweatshirt or hat this year, get it from Bowie State, Hampton or Miles College’s official bookstore or athletic site.
If you have the opportunity, visit these schools. See them, touch them and find your place in them. If you can, take others with you. Whether it’s a tour organized for high school students or just a random solo excursion, go.
Black colleges are a treasure and in this time, especially, Black people must do all they can to sustain them.