History

Message from the NAACP: Selma is now

 
NAACP
 
  Fifty years ago this week, hundreds of courageous men and women were bludgeoned and bloodied by Alabama state troopers as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They were marching from Selma to Montgomery to secure the basic, constitutional right to vote. Their actions catalyzed a national movement that ultimately led to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.

Commemorate the lives and sacrifices of these brave marchers by sharing this image on Facebook.

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It's 2015, but voting rights continue to be in peril for rural, older, college-enrolled, disabled, and black and brown voters. Those who live in states with a documented history of voter suppression now face new laws aimed at keeping our most vulnerable populations away from the polls.

Today, thousands of civil rights leaders and activists like you are gathering in Selma to kick off a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery March. 

And while we commemorate the anniversary of this great march, we must also remember that our rights are still not secured—Selma is now.

Let's show the nation we will not stand by as our rights are threatened. Share this message on Facebook today.

On Saturday, exactly 50 years after "Bloody Sunday," President Barack Obama will make a special address to honor the lives lost, the courage displayed, and the revolutionary results of this day in our history.

His speech and our advocacy work will send a message to lawmakers who are looking to keep us away from the polls, away from our most fundamental right: that we are watching, we are fighting, and we aren't backing down. Not in 1965, not in 2015. 

Thank you for standing strong,

Cornell William Brooks
President and CEO
NAACP
 
 

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Pioneering Miami Art Space Yeelen Gallery To Feature “BlackFreedom” Paintings


Gallery Director Karla Ferguson Announces Provocative Exhibit Confronting America’s Racial Crisis By White French-American Artist Jerome Soimaud


Karla Ferguson, the Jamaican-born owner of Miami’s Yeelen Gallery, launched painter Jerome Soimaud’s "BlackFreedom" exhibit with an invite-only party at the gallery on February 14. The exhibit will be open for general viewing starting Wednesday, February 18 and will close May 2.

"I’m proud to commemorate Black History Month with this exhibit," says the thirty-five year-old Ferguson, who worked as a law intern with the Innocence Project New Orleans before opening her celebrated gallery in Miami’s "Little Haiti".

BlackFreedom documents the Civil Rights Movement in Miami and prominently features a tribute to the last hours of Jumbo’s Restaurant, an indelible symbol of the end of Jim Crow in America.

Highlighting the urgent contemporary relevance of the exhibit, Ferguson continues: "Tragedies like the killing of Michael Brown and its aftermath indicate that the nation is facing a crisis of racial and socioeconomic disorder. And it’s not just a ‘black problem’, it’s everyone’s problem. Jerome’s searing, unforgettable work speaks directly to this mounting division and offers an opportunity for deep, healing, reflection, and a continuation of activism."

Adding to the layers of meaning in the exhibit is the personal connection between the exhibitor and the artist: Ferguson and Soimaud have been married since (2004) and are the parents of four daughters.

"We’re a team," says Ferguson. "Like this exhibit, our family is a beautiful gathering that defies convention and expectations."

Born in Paris in 1964, Soimaud studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, after working under the instruction of architect Alain Farel at The Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He relocated to Miami in 2006 to concentrate his work on subjects related to the African Diaspora.

Soimaud’s art harnesses a distinctive technique of painting on canvas with charcoal and graphite interwoven with light, emphasizing delicate yet exacting attention to detail. His works are in public and private collections internationally.

The Yeelen Gallery opened in 2008 and its name translates to "Brightness" or "Light" in the Bambara language, which is spoken in the African country of Mali.

Under Ferguson’s fearless direction, the gallery has given voice to marginalized people through the power of art and its exhibits have been covered by The Miami Herald and The New York Times.

"Most galleries are ruled by commercial interest, so they don’t see the potential in controversial exhibits like BlackFreedom," says Ferguson. "I don’t give a damn about commercial interest."

 

Yeelen Gallery
294 NW 54th Street
Miami, Fl 33127
Tel: (954) 235-4758

 

 



Mobile Theater and Rare P-51C Mustang Honoring Tuskegee Airmen To Visit Wings Over Miami Air Museum


Minneapolis, Minn. – February 16, 2015 – The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron, America’s tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, is bringing its RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit mobile theater and WWII P-51C Mustang aircraft to the Wings Over Miami Air Museum March 5 through 8. This is a unique opportunity for all ages to learn about the Tuskegee Airmen – America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel – in a unique and interactive way. The event is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs.

The museum is partnering with local schools to inspire children with the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit, dedicating two days of the event exclusively to school and community groups. Students will learn about the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s guiding Six Principles – Aim High, Believe In Yourself, Use Your Brain, Be Ready To Go, Never Quit, Expect to Win – and how they can be applied to their own lives. School administrators, youth group leaders, homeschool cooperatives, veterans organizations and all other community groups of any size are invited to contact the museum at (305) 233-5197 to schedule a special showing. Call today to reserve a spot for your group!

The Wings Over Miami Air Museum then invites the community to an open house for all ages Saturday March 7 and Sunday March 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to experience the mobile theater and get an up close look at the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s restored P-51C Mustang on static display. The signature aircaft of the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII, the P-51C Mustang is a rare treat for spectators because it is one of only a few like it still flying today.

The exciting RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit is a fully functional movie theater featuring the original short film "Rise Above," designed to take the audience on a journey through time – and then through the air. Visitors get an intimate look at the struggles and challenges faced by the Tuskegee Airmen, who showed extraordinary courage and strength of character as they fought for their right to serve our country during WWII. The theater’s dynamic 160-degree panoramic screen creates the sensation of being in the cockpit soaring above the clouds in the P-51C Mustang, experiencing the excitement and thrill of flying breath-taking aerobatic maneuvers. It’s much more than a history lesson; the Tuskegee Airmen’s ability to triumph over adversity serves as a means to inspire others to RISE ABOVE obstacles in their own lives and achieve their goals.

"We applaud the Wings Over Miami Air Museum for making this one-of-a-kind adventure possible for their community," said CAF Red Tail Squadron Leader and P-51C Mustang pilot Brad Lang. "Visitors will walk away with a greater understanding of the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, and be inspired to achieve their potential. It’s a message that resonates with all ages and is an experience not to be missed."

The Wings Over Miami Air Museum is located at 14710 SW 128th Street at the Miami Executive Airport. Entrance to the mobile theater is free, however special discounted admission rates to the museum will apply. As always, members of the armed forces receive complementary admission to the museum with a valid military-issued ID. Student and community groups in need of scholarship assitance to offset admission costs are encouraged to contact the museum at (305) 233-5197 for further details.

 

 



A weekend of great times and remembrance

We are in the midst of another busy weekend in Miami. The Boat Show on Miami Beach and Coconut Grove Arts Festival has brought thousands of people and sufficiently clogged I-95 and US-1. Pack your patience.

Florida Memorial University celebrated its Homecoming with a week of exciting activities. The Trayvon Martin Foundation held their Peace Walk yesterday in Miami Gardens and their Remembrance Dinner is being held tonight.

The Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is celebrating their Founders Day and Diamond Jubilee Anniversary via several activities. Yesterday, there were simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies at burial sites throughout Miami-Dade County and various locations throughout the nation for deceased Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter charter members and deceased former chapter presidents. The Chapter also partnered with Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, a former Alpha Kappa Alpha regional director, in a beautification project at the Belafonte TACOLCY Center. There was also community food distribution project through Feeding South Florida and other activities. It was a very busy day. Alpha Kappa Alpha international president, Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, also participated in the activities. The organization’s members in South Florida, are delighted she is celebrating this momentous occasion with them. Wilson is the keynote speaker at an historic luncheon today at the Hotel Intercontinental in downtown Miami. Gamma Zeta Omega is the oldest graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first Greek-letter sorority for college-educated black women.


 


Chief Jimmie Brown Returns to Radio --- Same Time, Different Station

Chief Jimmie Brown

After a brief hiatus, the Rev. Dr. Jimmie Brown returns to radio with the debut of "The Chief Jimmie Brown Show" on the award-winning 1490 WMBM starting Sunday, February 1, 2015, 11:00PM -1:00AM EST. Chief Brown is a multi-talented host, author, pastor, retired law enforcement officer and war veteran.

After hosting "Hot Talk with Chief Jimmie Brown" for more than 25 years and posing a black history question to the listening audience of his weekly talk show, how appropriate that Chief returns on the first day of Black History Month. The Chief Jimmie Brown Show will offer listeners a fresh take on issues affecting the community – from politics, business, education, history, youth and community empowerment issues.

There are several ways to tune in to The Chief Jimmie Brown Show each Sunday night: listen on your radio at 1490 AM; streaming live by computer at www.wmbm.com; or via the WMBM mobile app which can be downloaded from iTunes and Google Play.

Call-in numbers for The Chief Jimmie Brown Show are:

305.953.9626 Dade
954.525.1490 Broward
1.888.599.9626 toll-free

Connect with Chief via his official website: www.chiefjimmiebrown.com and "Like" his Facebook page: Chief Jimmie L. Brown.

Welcome back, Chief Brown. Boom-Shacka-Lacka!

 

- vb

 


ProQuest Boosts Study of American Civil Rights Movement by Digitizing SNCC and CORE Papers

Organizational records and personal papers offer unique and varied perspectives on the 20th century fight for freedom

ANN ARBOR, MI – ProQuest continues to advance the study of the civil rights movement in America. The company has digitized the papers of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), making their organizational records and their leaders’ personal papers accessible to researchers through the renownedHistory Vault collection Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century. The digitization of SNCC and CORE papers enables researchers to access documents from all four leading organizations in the U.S. civil rights movement. ProQuest has also digitized the papers of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Read CORE’s instructions for interstate bus riders on the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation and other SNCC and CORE documents here: http://bit.ly/SNCC-COREPapers.

Founded in 1942 and inspired by Mahatma Gandhi in India, CORE set the tone for non-violent protest in the civil rights movement and placed in motion milestone events that focused the nation on social injustice. Working with the Wisconsin Historical Society, ProQuest has digitized records and papers from three key decades of the group’s history.  “From their emergence from the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Chicago in the early 1940s, through the Freedom Rides and the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project in the 1960s, the CORE records document the important role that committed pacifists played in the greatest social movement of the 20th century,” said Matt Blessing, State Archivist and Administrator for the Library-Archives, Wisconsin Historical Society. “Its records form one of the cornerstone research collections within the Wisconsin Historical Society’s vast Civil Rights archives. For over 40 years nearly every major scholar of the Civil Right movement has utilized the records of CORE and other grassroots collections preserved by the WHS. We are pleased to share this essential collection with an even larger audience.”

Just as influential in the movement was SNCC. It was formed in early 1960, sparked when a group of black college students from North Carolina A&T University staged an impromptu sit-in at a Woolworth's lunch counter where they had been denied service. The group’s original mission was to coordinate the wave of sit-ins that followed in college towns across the South. Over the next 8 years, SNCC sent its leaders to some of the most segregated areas of the South as they sought to cultivate local leaders, most famously during Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964. In the early 1970s, the King Center assembled, preserved and promoted the group’s records, enabling researchers to understand SNCC’s significant role in the successful efforts to challenge the traditions of racism, inequality and the issues of Jim Crow.

“These files have been frequently consulted for over 30 years by researchers seeking a comprehensive look at the broad, ambitious and revolutionary activities of SNCC’s valiant and dedicated members,” said Cynthia Patterson Lewis, Director of Archives, King Library & Archives, The King Center. “The SNCC records provide an important base of information and an essential bridge to the personalities, the relational perspectives and the impressive aspects of its varied activities. It is a ‘must’ reference for civil rights scholarship.

Working in partnership with organizations and museums holding original documents, ProQuest makes their carefully curated collections more accessible to researchers around the world, driving new insights in the historical record. In addition to the SNCC and CORE records, this newest Black Freedom module also contains four collections from the Chicago History Museum: the Africa related papers of Claude Barnett; the papers of Congressman Arthur Mitchell; Heather Booth’s Papers on her participation inMississippi Freedom Summer; and the records of the CORE’s Chicago chapter. “Some of the most highly-requested material in our research collection is now a part of Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century,” said Gary T. Johnson, President, Chicago History Museum.  “ProQuest is a dream come true for a museum whose mission is ‘sharing stories.’ It is humbling to know that when our own building closes for the day, the History Vault is open and researchers have the tools they need to explore our content. ProQuest has become indispensable to the study of history in America.”

The CORE and SNCC archives, and the Chicago History Museum collections, are joined by the papers of the pioneering Black Power thinker, Robert F. Williams, to create the Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Organizational Records and Personal Papers, Part 2, a key element in ProQuest’s large collection of resources designed to improve research outcomes for those studying the American civil rights movement. The company has created digital paths that unlock a variety of unique primary sources including Southern plantation records, key documents from the Black Abolitionist Movement and has developed broad resources such as Black Studies Center and ebook collections centered on Black History.

To learn more visit www.proquest.com.


Overtown Music and Arts Festival-Saturday, July 19, 2014

 
Musical Feasts of Delectable Bites, Artistic Vibes On The Menu for Summer Family Fun Celebrating Overtown
Overtown_Music_Festival
 
Miami, FL __Headliner Market Group (HMG) is putting the finishing touches on their production of this year’s Overtown Music and Arts Festival that will be held on Saturday, July 19, 2014 in the Overtown Business District (NW 3rd Ave between 9th and 11th streets). The event runs from 11am to 7pm and is free. 99 Jamz radio personalities will be on stage from 3pm-6pm. Once known as “Miami’s Little Broadway”, Overtown previously hosted music greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Aretha Franklin. In the past, the “Colored Town” was frequently visited by international guests seeking to enjoy its one of a kind food, music and entertainment. 
 
HMG has carved out a niche within the entertainment landscape of South Florida, with their spot-on reputation of producing renowned signature events at the world renowned  Liv on Sundays, and Story Nightclub to name a few. Some of the music industry’s heavy weights who call on HMG to put on larger than life events include - Diddy, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Drake, Beyonce and Dwyane Wade to name a few.
 
“We are excited to extend the HMG brand by producing the Overtown Music and Arts Festival. Celebrating the rich cultural vibe of Overtown is important to enhancing its sense of community. We intend to provide a fun, festive and family-friendly environment that promises to become a staple event people will look forward to for years to come.” states Michael Gardner, CEO of HMG.
 
The musical feast line-up includes the soulful sounds of Grammy nominated artist Raheem Devaughn, multi-talented musician and TV One’s R&B Divas star Keke Wyatt, 90’s music favorite singer Case, soul vocalist Jaguar Wright, singer/songwriter Teedra Moses, one of South Florida’s favorite local bands, Deep Fried Funk, emerging artist Sebastian Mikael, and South Florida local comedian and singer Larry Dogg.

The SEOPW CRA  seeks to highlight Overtown’s rich culture and  history by supporting initiatives like the Overtown Music and Arts Festival.  The partnership between the CRA and HMG aligns with the agency's goal to enhance Overtown by attracting visitors and helping to support local businesses.

 

 

 


[TIME SENSITIVE] Invitation to special advance screening of the controversial new movie "Belle"

BELLE Regal Sobe Screening

 

Constance
Constance Jones

Local news anchor Constance Jones and Fox Searchlight are hosting a special screening of BELLE this coming Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at Regal South Beach, 7:30pm. 

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral.  Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing.  Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

Because it is private event, a ticketing system is not being used but a special guest list is being created. RSVP by emailing your name to BelleFloridaScreenings@gmail.com. The deadline is Monday May 12, 2014.

 

 

Dido_Elizabeth_Belle
Painting of Dido Belle with her cousin Elizabeth, formerly attributed to Johann Zoffany

Wikipedia:  Dido Elizabeth Belle

 


Op-Ed: Analysis of the Pending Legal Battle over the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Split

 

Atty. Chuck Hobbs
Chuck Hobbs

As a Florida native, I have always considered it odd when people that I have encountered from other regions of the country have insisted that Florida, while geographically southern, is not similar to its “Bible Belt” southern brethren as far as culture and customs are concerned. Such observations stem from the fact that since the early 70’s, Florida has become a tourist attraction due to Disney World and many of its other theme parks and with the upswing in immigration from Latin America and the Caribbean over the past 50 years, the image of Florida as something other than its Confederate and Jim Crow past is a direct result of savvy marketing.

 

But make no mistake, Florida is the “south,” and like the more infamous states of Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, states in which federal troops had to be dispatched to foster integration in the years following the United States Supreme Court’s Brown vs Board of Education decision, Florida, too, was defiant— if not slow as molasses—with respect to complying with the US Supreme Court’s mandate that its schools desegregate “with all deliberate speed.”

In 1885, barely a decade after the Compromise of 1877 led newly minted President Rutherford B. Hayes to pull federal troops from the south after only 11 years of Reconstruction, Florida, like its southern brethren, held a constitutional convention to re-establish control for its former Confederate leaders while also divesting blacks of the political power that they had enjoyed during their first decade of freedom. The new Florida Constitution, by its tenor, served as a legal contradiction when considering its words “We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, in order to secure its blessings and to form a more perfect government, insuring domestic tranquility, maintaining public order, and guaranteeing EQUAL CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS TO ALL, do ordain and establish this Constitution….Article XII—Education: White and colored children shall not be taught in the same school, but impartial provision shall be made for both.”

By inscribing such a constitution, Florida was at the vanguard of what would become known as “separate but equal.” Two years later, in 1887, what would later become known as Florida A&M University was founded in Tallahassee, the state’s capital, to educate black students. By 1896, when the United States Supreme Court held that “separate but equal” was a valid legal concept in its Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, FAMU, for the next seven decades, would be limited to serving black students exclusively and while separate, there clearly was a long and tortured history of disparate funding, sub-standard books and materials and poorly maintained if not cramped facilities.

By the time the US Supreme Court was preparing to decide the Brown case in 1954, Florida had already seen legal challenges to its segregated public college system in the form of Virgil Hawkins’ petition to enter in the law school at the University of Florida (UF), the state’s flagship school that was the incubator of state political and judicial leaders during Jim Crow. Florida’s leaders, like its southern brethren, recognized that while its system was separate, it was far from equal and in a clever attempt to perhaps stave off an outright push for integration, a building flurry ensued across the south, including Florida, and in 1951, the state established a law school at FAMU in hopes of providing an “equal” program to the state’s all-white public law school at UF. Writing a concurring opinion in the Virgil Hawkins case, Florida Supreme Court Justice Glenn Terrell wrote “I might venture to point out …that segregation is not a new philosophy generated by the states that practice it. It is and always has been the unvarying law of the animal kingdom, the dove and the quail, the turkey and the turkey buzzard, it matters not where they are found, are segregated: place the horse, the cow, the sheep, the goat and the pig in the same pasture and they instinctively segregate…and when God created man, he allotted each race to his own continent according to color, Europe to the white man, and Asia to the yellow man, Africa to the black man, and America to the red man, but we are now advised that God’s plan was in error and must be reversed.”

Justice Terrell’s morally vapid words, while not holding greater sway than the Brown mandate, certainly provided insight into how Florida would remain defiant as far as integration through the 1960’s. UF did not graduate its first black student until nearly a decade after the Brown decision; Florida State University (FSU), originally a college for women that became a co-ed school following World War II to accommodate the large numbers of white males returning from war who wished to obtain college degrees per the GI Bill, was similarly racially segregated and graduated its first black students in the late 60’s as well.

Still, once integration became the “law” in America, such did not mandate the closure of any of the state funded Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) including FAMU. By the 1970’s, students of all races were eligible to enroll at FAMU the same as at UF and FSU, but the issue during this period for many of the public HBCU’s, including FAMU, was whether the individual states should eliminate them all together as a purge of the state’s recent segregationist past. In 1968, Florida’s Board of Control, which provided oversight for the state universities, closed the FAMU Law School and opened a new one at FSU. The law school closing was only the beginning, as it was during the 70’s that FAMU faced relentless calls for its complete merging with FSU. It was only through the indefatigable efforts of former FAMU Presidents Benjamin L. Perry and Dr. Walter Smith, Sr. that the same was averted. Still, during the middle of President Smith’s tenure, the disparate funding aspect of FAMU as opposed to FSU was manifest in a major way during the 1979-80 football seasons when FAMU’s Bragg Stadium was in need of repairs. FAMU was allowed to use FSU’s Doak Campbell Stadium—built and maintained at the time in large measure by public funds—but the football team was not allowed to use FSU’s locker room and was forced to get dressed on the bus and conduct halftime on the side of the field. These and other slights only raised the stakes during the early 1980’s when FAMU President Smith sought to obtain a full engineering school, one that would further its mission as a Land-Grant college under the Morill Act, a designation that it only shared in Florida with UF.

According to a blog written by Smith’s son Walter II this past weekend, FAMU had offered engineering programs since 1949 and was best situated for a new stand-alone school but FSU, seeking the same, made a similar petition. The compromise that was struck was that the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering was developed and for the past 30 years, despite years of mistrust and at times frustrations between the two schools, the same has graduated a large number of talented engineers and been a stalwart program for both schools.

Understanding this background, it was only logical, then, that FAMU graduates and supporters were apoplectic last week when the Florida legislature, under the leadership of would be FSU president (and alum), State Sen. John Thrasher, pushed through legislation that would provide funding for a separate FSU College of Engineering. While such only awaits the signature of Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott, which is all but assured, the reality is that as it currently stands, the primary issue going forward is whether the state should compel FSU to build its new school in a city other than Tallahassee where the now FAMU Engineering School sits. This would be consistent with precedent that where feasible, neither school duplicates professional programs in the same city, a precedent that found the FAMU College of Law, when established again in the early 2000’s, to be located in Orlando so as not to compete with FSU Law School despite the fact that during this time, FAMU was in the midst of a marvelous run as far as academics under the leadership of then President Frederick Humphries, which included designation as Time/Princeton Review’s College of the Year—the only Florida school to receive such designation.

A second issue is that the building which currently houses the joint engineering school that will soon be FAMU’s alone is in desperate need of millions of dollars in repairs. Essentially, FAMU taking sole ownership of the building is no favor, rather, it is an albatross that if not effectively and fully handled by the legislature, will open the state to litigation that could ultimately find multiple millions of dollars pouring into FAMU—period. Over the past two decades, in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Maryland, HBCU’s, following protracted litigation, have found federal courts holding in their favor as far as the funding slights and buildings being in disrepair. The US Supreme Court, in its United States vs. Fordice decision, held that Mississippi’s segregated university system, as late as the 80’s, led to disparate funding and duplication of programs that while seemingly “race neutral on their face, they substantially restrict a person’s choice of which school to enter.” Similar litigation from Maryland in 2012 led United States District Court judge Catherine Blake to rule that “Maryland has violated the constitutional rights of students at Maryland’s four Historically Black Institutions by unnecessarily duplicating their programs at nearby white institutions.”

What does this mean for the current FAMU-FSU issue?

Clearly, there is nothing at this time that will prevent the Florida legislature, through its recently passed budget, from going forth with its plans for a new FSU Engineering School. What must be decided going forth, however, is whether FAMU stakeholders will file suit now in hopes, perhaps, of seeking to enjoin the decision based upon the same’s violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as applied to Florida through he 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This route would not likely yield fruit, however, because the most clever aspect of attaching the funding through the state’s budget as opposed to some separate bill to create the same is that Florida, as a sovereign state, has a right to pass its budget free from federal interference. That said, the legal attack will likely center upon what happens next from the legislature on two fronts; first, with the engineering building in need of millions of dollars in repairs, and with Florida having a budget surplus, how much money will be allocated to the modernization and upkeep of said building? Similarly, with FSU receiving 13 million dollars to establish its new school, will similar dollars be allocated for the hiring of new faculty that will replace the FSU Engineering professors who will move to the new school? How much money will be allocated to develop the programs that are specific to the FSU side of the current joint school and how much will be needed to hire professors and obtain the necessary equipment to ensure that the stand alone FAMU Engineering School will have the same program offerings? Any balk by the state on any of these funding issues will subject the state to the same litigation as done in Fordice in Mississippi as well as in Maryland.

Still, with the current tenor from FSU being one that its Engineering school, too, be located in Tallahassee, litigation along the issue of duplication of services would likely result in a favorable ruling for FAMU supporters in Federal Court as the same would hinge upon the very duplication of offerings that is at issue in the Maryland case.

Now, where this issue becomes fraught with concerns for FAMU stakeholders is in understanding that FAMU’s continuing mission, which includes educating many first in family college types and the enrollment of profile admits or students who desire to enroll in school but who have lower grade point averages and/or test scores, whether any future court may conclude that if the two schools are allowed to exist separately in Tallahassee and at the same funding clip, that the FAMU School of Engineering be held to the same admission standards as the FSU and UF Engineering Schools. By writing this I do not mean to suggest that current FAMU Engineering students do not meet such requirements, nor do I suggest that FSU or UF engineering students all meet or exceed high admission standards. Most of the men and women that I have known over the past three decades who graduated from the FAMU side of the joint Engineering School had their picks of prestigious colleges; but still, FAMU stakeholders should be wary going forward that the next step in this seemingly never ending battle of proving the worth if not viability of our public HBCU’s is in combatting the concept, albeit misguided, that they are not prepared to competitively compete with their traditionally white brethren. I submit that in the past, any competitive disadvantages have been a direct result of overt and covert racism within the system and that when said racism is removed, said school, invariably, will flourish as they always have if not greater once the proverbial racist foot is removed from their proverbial necks.

 

About the Author: Chuck Hobbs is a trial lawyer and award winning freelance writer. A native of Tallahassee, FL, he is a graduate of Morehouse College, Florida A&M University and the University of Florida College of Law. Hobbs is also a great man of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.

 


[TODAY!] A Memorial Service & Celebration - Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela - July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013

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TODAY! 4P - 5:30P

Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center
Knight Concert Hall
Parking fee waived at Lot C

RSVP at MandelaMiami@gmail.com or 305-781-0513.

Follow online at #MandelaMiami

Made possible thanks to the Mandela Miami Memorial Host Committee:

Nelson Mandela Memorial Service & Celebration Host Committee (in formation): Dr. Nelson Adams; Georgina A. Angones; J. Ricky Arriola; Tony Argiz; Tere Blanca; Jaret Davis; Felice Gorodo; Wendy Grant; Marlon A. Hill; Marilyn Holifield; Saif Ishoof; John Kozyak; Markenzy Lapointe; Caryn Lavernia; Gepsie Metellus; Caryn Lavernia; Gihan Perera; Valerie Riles; Monica Russo; Roberta Shevin; H.T. Smith; Giancarlo Sopo; Javier Soto; David Wilson