HBCUs to Receive Grant Money Following Last Year’s Bomb Threats

In the wake of the chilling bomb threats last year, the Biden administration is taking a hopeful stride. HBCUs are to receive grant money, promising a safer future for these endangered institutions. Dr. Dietra Trent, passionately advocating for student safety, opens up to Parents about the absolute necessity for a secure mental and physical environment on campus.

More than a dozen Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Howard University, Spelman College, and Hampton University, received bomb threats at the beginning of 2022. The FBI revealed in November 2022 that they believed one youngster was responsible for the majority of “racially driven” threats. The Department of Justice collaborated with state prosecutors to hold the juvenile accountable for their conduct, but the harm has been and continues to be done, and a sad past is brought to mind

The majority of the targeted colleges are located in the southern United States, including the Xavier University of Louisiana and Edward Waters University of Jacksonville, Florida. Nearly all schools canceled lessons and instructed pupils to shelter in place until receiving the “all clear” from administrators. Understandably, students were shaken.

Although no bombs were discovered, the then-press secretary of the White House, Jen Psaki, stated that the Biden administration took the threats seriously. Now, nearly a year later, the administration is attempting to heal the damage by awarding grants totaling $500,000 to three HBCUs that received threats.

Dr. Dietra Trent was recently appointed executive director of the White House Initiative on Promoting Educational Equality, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a program developed in response to bomb threats and other difficulties. According to Dr. Trent, Project SERV had distributed over $1.4 million to over eight HBCUs in the United States.

Today, she announced that Philander Smith College, North Carolina Central University, and Hampton University would each get $500,000.

As anticipated, the colleges have utilized the funding to improve safety and security. Institutions, such as Southern University Law Center, have utilized the monies to address the mental health consequences of bomb threat situations.

Dr. Trent believes that this decision is “rational.” She adds to Parents, “I met with students from a variety of HBCUs, and they all acknowledged how painful this experience was for them. Hence, investing in mental health makes a great deal of sense.” She then discussed the historical function of bomb threats, which are also psychologically intimidating.

“They were actually made to instill dread. I feel they deliberately interrupted our students’ mission and education. Unfortunately, HBCUs have a history of such behavior. Thus, we must consider what we can do to support our pupils. In terms of giving greater assistance for mental health, increasing security for people, and providing greater support for the training of our safety and security officers, these colleges appear to be on the right track.”

For long-term remedies to safety problems, Dr. Trent referred to the White House’s announcement of more resources on March 16, 2022. President Biden enlisted departments and other government programs to help HBCUs recover not only from the challenges of the previous year but also from a 150-year history of being neglected and disregarded by the White House.

There is a long history of domestic terrorists employing bombs to scare Black communities, with the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, in which four African girls were killed, and 20 were injured, being one of the most devastating events. In response to efforts to integrate schools, the English Avenue Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia, was bombed in 1959.

The president of Howard University, Wayne A. I. Frederick, stated in a statement that Black History is replete with such targeted abuse. “The Black community is not unfamiliar with these types of threats, whether real or imagined,” adds Frederick. “Institutions devoted to educating people of color have long been a cause of terror and a target of violence for those who aim to thwart the quest of justice and entrench inequality in our society.”

Dr. Trent asserts that parents can have confidence in the safety of their college-aged children on HBCU campuses. A year ago, she mirrored the sentiments of HBCU presidents.

“Historically, [HBCUs] have fought injustices while remaining alert. We have been through this before, so we will persevere and be resilient. We will continue doing so. Our mission does not alter. As an administration, we will do all possible to guarantee the safety and security of these schools. This administration will not accept any threats to students, teachers, or staff at historically black colleges and universities.”

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