North Carolina state legislators have announced a bipartisan historically Black colleges and universities caucus, focusing on meeting the needs of historically Black higher education, making it the first state-level caucus of its kind in the country.
In U.S. Congress, U.S. Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC 12th) founded the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus in 2015.
North Carolina's caucus is chaired in the state House by N.C. Rep. Zack Hawkins (D-Durham) and House Majority Whip N.C. Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford). N.C. Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford) will chair the caucus in the state Senate, along with another senator yet to be announced, according to the News & Observer.
Hawkins, a graduate of two different North Carolina HBCUs, said about 30 members of the legislature have already signed on to be a part of the new caucus.
All announced chairs' districts are home to HBCUs, as N.C. Central University is in Durham County and N.C. A&T University is in Guilford County.
However, the caucus leaders have said the caucus is open to all legislators, regardless of whether they have attended an HBCU or represent a community that is home to one.
Allison Goff Clark, the deputy director of North Carolina programs at the Hunt Institute, said the caucus came about as a result of a listening tour of all 10 North Carolina HBCUs by organizations including Center for Racial Equity in Education, the Hunt Institute and more.
These organizations provide resources for the caucus, according to Goff Clark.
Goff Clark said five other states have reached out to the Hunt Institute about creating an HBCU caucus in their own state.