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HBCU Land Grabs: The Fight for Autonomy Continues

HBCU Land Grabs: The Fight for Autonomy Continues


By Hasan Salam


The recent comments from a Raleigh developer, as reported by the HBCU Gameday article, highlight an alarming trend that many HBCUs have faced historically - the threat of having their land and autonomy taken away under the guise of "progress" and "development."


The notion that "Raleigh doesn't need two black universities" and that the city should force a merger between Shaw University and Saint Augustine's University, simply to seize their valuable downtown property, is nothing short of a modern-day land grab. It is a blatant disregard for the rich history and legacy of these institutions, which have served as pillars of the Black community for generations.


HBCUs have long been targets for those seeking to exploit their land and resources. From the forced relocation of schools like Tuskegee University to the constant pressure to merge or shutter campuses, the fight for HBCU autonomy is an ongoing battle. And the developers in Raleigh are just the latest to try and strip away the hard-earned assets of these institutions.


What makes this situation particularly galling is the developers' open admission that they "don't care what you call it" - they simply want the land, regardless of the impact on the schools and the communities they serve. This callous disregard for the cultural and educational significance of HBCUs is a disturbing reflection of the priorities of those in power.


HBCUs have long been underfunded and undervalued, forced to navigate a system that was not designed to support their success. And now, as these institutions begin to thrive and reclaim their rightful place in the higher education landscape, predatory developers seek to swoop in and strip away the very foundations that have allowed them to flourish.


But we cannot let this happen. The fight for HBCU autonomy must continue, with the unwavering support of the Black community and all those who believe in the transformative power of these institutions. We must stand firm against the forces that seek to erase our history and undermine our future.


The land that Shaw University and Saint Augustine's University sit on is not just a plot of real estate – it is a symbol of the resilience, determination, and collective struggle of the Black community. It is a testament to the vision and sacrifice of those who came before us, and it must be protected at all costs.


As we face this latest threat to HBCU autonomy, let us be reminded of the words of the great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." The battle for the land and future of these HBCUs is a battle for the very soul of our community, and we cannot afford to lose.

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