‘Are They Trying to Get All HBCUs?’: Students, Families React to Bomb Threats at NC’s HBCUs

Numerous historically Black colleges across the nation, including Winston-Salem State University, have been the targets of the unverified bomb threats in recent weeks. (Image via WSSU)

By Billy Ball

February 17, 2022

The FBI is investigating more than 20 bomb threats against HBCUs as racially-motivated hate crimes. Fayetteville State and Winston Salem State in NC were among the latest to receive threats.

Another day. Another round of bomb threats against a number of the nation’s historically Black colleges, including two schools in North Carolina.

North Carolina, which has the largest HBCU undergraduate population and the second-most HBCUs in the nation, reported threats at Fayetteville State University and Winston Salem State University. Clafin University in South Carolina was also threatened Wednesday. More than 20 such bomb threats have been reported across the nation this year. 


No arrests have been made in the recent spate of arrests, though the FBI are pursuing the cases as hate crime investigations. 

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As C&P Associate Editor Emiene Wright wrote this month, it is no coincidence these threats are intensifying during Black History Month. These schools, bastions of Black excellence for generations, were founded in many states as a refuge for Black students, and they’ve been targeted by white supremacists for decades. 

No bombs have been found on campuses following the threats, but “people of color don’t have that privilege to think it’s not real,” Lance Wheeler, director of exhibitions at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, told NPR in this Feb. 7 report.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate in the US, wrote Thursday morning that the bomb threats have been “deeply impactful” on campuses, rattling students’ sense of safety and well-being. 

“HBCUs have been and continue to be central to Black scholarship and the inclusion of Black voices in the American dialogue,” the SPLC wrote Thursday. “We condemn the targeted violence and threats aimed at these storied institutions and will do everything we can to support the HBCU community.”

Law enforcement said the FBI is investigating the bomb threats, which disrupted the campuses for hours on Wednesday. As of Feb. 7, the FBI had reported at least 17 bomb threats at the nation’s HBCUs, including a threat in January at NC Central University in Durham.

Below we have collected the response from North Carolina and national figures on the bomb threats. We send all of our support and respect to these venerated schools. 


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.

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