HBCU Law Schools Are Steady Force in Today’s Social Justice Movement

Southern University Law Center students last month held a forum in Baton Rouge about citizen rights and resources in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Among the topics of discussion—the McWaters vs. FEMA case which secured continuing temporary housing for residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and what citizens should expect in job security, housing, financing, and property should they ever encounter another great storm.

“Our motto is that we are legal thought-leaders for the 21st century,” said SULC Chancellor John Pierre. “We use the law as a tool to address issues in our communities, but that we are the advocates and leaders who will change conditions through practice and interpretation of the law.”

By enrollment numbers, Southern boasts the largest historically black law school in the country, enrolling more than 675 full and part-time students. But they are a part of a network of teaching, learning and law preparation made up of more than 3,000 students and hundreds of faculty and staff nationwide at HBCUs; a network that is quietly leaving an indelible mark on the movements to eliminate police violence, predatory economic and political action, and imbalance in the justice system against Black individuals, families and communities.

Students, faculty and staff over decades have provided pro bono counsel and research in civil rights and social justice cases all over the country. But in recent years, these schools have become more visible in protests, petitioning and community education around dire issues of injustice.

For more, visit HBCUdigest.com.

It’s Time to Ask Uncomfortable Questions About HBCU Campus Violence

The tug-of-war between admissions selectivity and financial crisis has been going on for decades. But in 2015, unfairly or otherwise, HBCUs which have walked this razor-thin line between closing their doors and open enrollment have pried open a new conversation for naysayers about the relevance of HBCUs—campus crime.

HBCUs across several states, varying missions and demographic profiles are emerging as symbols of black crime in black spaces of higher education. And there appears to be a startling correlation in the timing of these incidents and these universities efforts to boost enrollment, to counter free-falling revenue from tuition and public funding.

Schools will never reveal the ties between admissions selectivity and campus crime, although student judicial officials will confidentially tell you that conduct violations and campus crime is heaviest among first and second-year students who enter with conditional admission, and who have done little to upgrade their learning profile while enrolled.

Police will tell you, also confidentially, that they aren’t concerned about a swell of students committing crimes, but rather, non-students who are invited onto campus by students who make poor choices in friendships, who are trying to buy drugs, or worse, are involved in gang-related activity.

They will also tell you that, at any given moment, there are not enough police officers to adequately prevent or respond to crime in progress in a small community of thousands of students; the same students who will conversely tell you that police officers rarely get out of their cars on patrol, harass students for meaningless offenses, and typically aren’t visible in campus areas that are known hotspots for illegal activity.

For more, read HBCUDigest.com.