HBCU community awaits equity suit ruling
By Alexis Taylor
Both the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) and the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education are waiting for U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake’s ruling, expected in the coming weeks, in the Maryland HBCU equity trial.
The opinion will bring an end—and long-anticipated solution—to a case that some legal observers say will have a deep impact on how the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are funded.
“The issues that are being tried in Maryland right now are a continuation of the very same issues that resulted in Brown v. the Board of Education and its subsequent cases in higher education,” said Pace J. McConkie, a long-time civil rights lawyer and director of Robert M. Bell Center for Civil Rights in Education.
“This is very much the prominent civil rights issue and an equal education opportunity case that will affect African American students in Maryland and throughout the country.”
In 2006, the coalition, a group of current HBCU students, faculty, staff, and alumni, filed the lawsuit seeking $2.1 billion from the state of Maryland, claiming that the MHEC has continuously failed to equally fund the state’s four historically Black colleges—the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Morgan State, Bowie State and Coppin State universities—compared to their white counterparts such as Towson University, the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.