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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Bomb threats at HBCUs are another act of violence against Black students

Howard University is among the most well-known HBCUs. Photo courtesy of Dreamstime/TNS.

You are a Black student seeking an education from one of the illustrious Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation. It’s a normal day of learning and studying, until you suddenly learn that your school has been sent a bomb threat. 

Anxiety and terror have now replaced your excitement to learn.

This has been an unfortunate reality for students at the nearly 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country since this January.

The first bomb threats rolled in on January 5, where eight HBCUs were targeted in this first wave. The second occurred on February 1. This series of threats made the racial motivation a bit more obvious.

HBCUs serve as a sanctuary for Black individuals to build community, network and learn. They were created as a response to the denial of higher education for Black people. 

There are 107 HBCUs in the nation, twelve of those being housed in North Carolina — making it the state with the second highest number of HBCUs.

The FBI has identified these threats as hate crimes, and launched a search to determine the source of the threats.They have identified suspects, but no arrests have been made yet.

What do these threats mean? It’s 2022, why are Black institutions still being targeted?

Peter Hans, the UNC System president, released a delayed, understated response to these threats on Feb. 25. 

“The recent bomb scares are a reminder of that painful past and of the barriers that many of our students still face on the path to higher education," he said in an interview with Patch. “We will not be intimidated by these threats. North Carolina’s HBCUs speak to our highest aspirations as a state, and they continue to do remarkable work.”

For hundreds of years, Black education has been threatened by white violence, from denying enslaved people the right to read and write, greeting young Black students with violence during integration in schools or denying Black scholars the opportunity to receive a higher education in the ivory towers of predominantly white institutions. 

Those are just some of the earlier inceptions of hatred and violence against African Americans seeking education. Still today, there are educational disparities in school systems that limit and affect Black students. These disparities include a lack of resources and opportunities and harsher punishment for Black and brown students.

Now, with the recent trend of bomb threats at these institutions, there is tangible evidence of the disparities and violence that Black people experience.

Racism and hatred toward Black people who are seeking to better themselves intellectually still exists, and isn’t a remnant of the past, but rather a practice of the present. 

Knowledge is power and white supremacy functions best when that power is stripped from the individuals that it hopes to oppress.


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