It’s Black History Month — and once again, historically Black colleges and universities can’t find any peace.
It’s Black History Month — and once again, historically Black colleges and universities can’t find any peace. Over the past two days, more than a dozen HBCUs have received bomb threats. Fortunately, none of the threats have yet to amount to anything more than words. But they’re still a chilling way to ring in what is supposed to be a month to celebrate the achievements of Black people.
There are over 100 historically Black colleges and universities across the United States. So far, the bomb threats are not contained to any particular state. Instead, The Guardian reported that the threats span across six states and Washington, D.C. Institutions that have received bomb threats include Spelman College, Howard University, Carolina Central University, Coppin State University, Mississippi Valley State University, and several others as gathered by CNN.
On Monday, Reps. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) and French Hill (R-Ark.), co-chairs of the Congressional HBCU Caucus, said in a statement, “We are deeply disturbed by a second round of bomb threats at HBCU campuses within a month.”
“Learning is one of the most noble and most human pursuits, and schools are sacred places that should always be free from terror,” the statement continued. “Solving these crimes and bringing those responsible to justice should be a top priority for federal law enforcement.”
The HBCU Caucus’s sentiments were echoed by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. On Twitter, Thompson wrote, “Each institution should be a safe place for students to grow and learn. The bomb threats to the HBCUs deserve a full investigation, particularly given the dynamic terrorism threat.”
In response to the threats, a number of universities went on lockdown, which included cancelling all on-campus activities. At Morgan State University and Bowie State University, both in Maryland, students were directed to shelter in place until told to do otherwise. While The Washington Post reported that it’s unclear if the sudden barrage of bomb threats are coordinated or not, HBCU officials are calling for more than just local law enforcement to step in.
“Our history has been one where we have endured all kinds of challenges and disruptions, but we have always emerged stronger,” David Wilson, president of Morgan State University, wrote in an address to students. “I’m hopeful that these bomb threats to our National Treasure, and to many of our other sister HBCU institutions, will be aggressively investigated by the FBI.”
Most of the bomb threats so far have been deemed unfounded. In a statement, Howard University police chief Marcus Lyles wrote that the threats “have not yielded any credible danger,” but added, “they have become a drain on institutional and municipal resources and an unnecessary mental burden on individuals trying to learn and work on our campus.”
However, local New Orleans outlet WDSU reported that police stated at least one had been “very real.” There, the threat was directed towards Xavier University of Louisiana. Fortunately, there were still no explosions or injuries at the campus.
It’s unclear what the full federal response will be to the collection of bomb threats. In a statement to USA Today, the FBI said it is aware of the situation and “working with our law enforcement partners to address any potential threats.”