Third Wave of Bomb Threats Hit HBCUs As Black History Month Begins

Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) speaks during a House committee in 2019. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By Emiene Wright

February 1, 2022

Rep. Alma Adams of Charlotte demanded federal law enforcement make it a ‘top priority’ to find perpetrators behind a spate of bomb threats at historically Black colleges, including NC Central.

Historically Black colleges and universities across the country are on heightened alert after at least 19 institutions received bomb threats today and Monday. 

Today, the first day of Black History Month, over a dozen HBCUs from Kentucky to Mississippi sounded the alarm. Targets have included top-ranked schools such as Spelman University in Georgia and Howard University in Washington D.C., which was threatened yesterday as well, to smaller, lesser-known institutions such as Edward Waters University in Jacksonville, Fla. 

Monday, five others in addition to Howard saw campus lockdowns and investigations. 

Police investigations are underway.

This is the third time in 5 weeks that HBCUs have gotten these threats. On Jan. 4, North Carolina Central University received a bomb threat, alerting students and staff to return home. 

The Durham HBCU provided an off-campus safe site for students without transportation. 

Within the same week, Howard University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Texas Southern University, Norfolk State University and Prairie View A&M University all had similar threats. 

Most HBCUs were established shortly after Emancipation because white universities refused to admit Black students. While they make up only 3% of the nation’s colleges and universities, they enroll 10% of all African-American students and produce almost 20% of all African-American graduates. One in four African-American graduates with STEM degrees earned them at HBCUs. This success comes despite decades of underfunding, to the tune of billions of dollars.

US Rep. Alma Adams, who co-chairs the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, demanded swift action on the bomb threats. The congresswoman, who represents North Carolina’s 12th District, has been a steadfast champion of HBCUs, introducing the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act last May to modernize the institutions’ facilities. 

Adams and her caucus co-chair, Rep. French Hill, issued a statement Monday afternoon exhorting federal law enforcement to solve the crimes quickly.

“Schools are sacred places that should always be free from terror,” the statement read. “Solving these crimes and bringing those responsible to justice should be a top priority for federal law enforcement.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed during a news conference Monday that President Biden had been briefed. “The White House is in touch with the interagency partners including federal law enforcement leadership on this,” she said.


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