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FAMU Under Attack  For Role Played In Obama Victory
FAMU Under Attack  For Role Played In Obama Victory
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FAMU Under Attack For Role Played In Obama Victory


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  • 1. FROM: accordance with Federal Laws provided For Educational and Information Purposes – i.e. of PUBLIC InterestTuesday, February 16, 2010Rivers: Public HBCUs under attack for role in Obama victory In a recent Orlando Sentinel op-ed, FAMU alumnusLarry O. Rivers weighed in on the HBCU merger debate. He believes the merger proposals are more aboutelection politics than budget constraints:Every major civil-rights victory elicits a backlash; and, few are as overtly discriminatory as reactionary state lawsand practices designed to put black voters "back in their place." The Souths history is full of examples. Poll taxes,literacy tests, grandfather clauses and whites-only primaries followed the 15th Amendment. Gerrymanderingdiluted the influence of heavily black population areas after the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Faulty felon purge listsdisenfranchised thousands of eligible black voters in 2000, obstructing a wave of increased black election turnoutpartially sparked by court rulings that had led to new majority black congressional districts in 1992.And now, following the inauguration of Americas first African-American president, a backlash is brewing againsta critical stronghold of his black Southern support base: historically black colleges and universities.HBCUs occupied a prominent place in President Barack Obamas election strategy.Back when many wealthy political donors considered his candidacy a long shot, he raised sizable contributionsfrom his appearances at HBCUs such as Howard, Florida A&M, Hampton and Xavier.Obama also led rallies at North Carolina Central, South Carolina State and Mississippis Jackson State ahead of hisDemocratic primary wins in those states.In the general election, three Southern states with vigorous HBCU "get-out-the-vote" initiatives — Virginia, NorthCarolina and Florida — went from red to blue.Even in the southern states that Obama lost to GOP nominee John McCain, the rise in black turnout — widelymobilized from HBCU campuses — presented a serious problem for many Republicans locked in tight legislative
  • 2. and congressional elections.Recently, two powerful GOP officeholders in Georgia and Mississippi (states Obama picked up in the primary)introduced proposals to weaken their states public HBCUs. Georgia state Sen. Seth Harp wanted to merge twoHBCUs, Albany State and Savannah State, with nearby predominantly white schools. Mississippi Gov. HaleyBarbour, the politically ambitious chairman of the Republican Governors Association, asked his states lawmakersto strip Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State of their autonomy and make them extension campuses ofJackson State.The timing of these propositions was no coincidence. Another huge black voter turnout for Obama in 2012,coupled with the reapportionment processes driven by the 2010 Census, could trigger shake-ups in numerousSouthern legislatures and congressional districts.