Union of Concerned Scientists Stands in Solidarity with Historically Black Colleges Against Threats of Violence

Statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Feb 7, 2022

Last week, at least 17 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) received bomb threats that caused schools to cancel in-person classes and lock down buildings. The threats pointedly coincided with the start of Black History Month.

Below is a statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“As we mark the start of Black History Month this week, we are once again confronted with continued anti-Black racism as Historically Black Colleges and Universities were targeted with bomb threats. These violent, racist threats disrupted students’ education and violated their right to safety on campus.

“The history of HBCUs in this country is one of determination and resilience in the face of systemic exclusion. Many HBCUs started as land-grant agricultural universities that exist specifically because federally funded agricultural colleges refused to accept Black students in the aftermath of the Civil War. They are living legacies of our nation’s history of racism in education and agriculture. In spite of this, HBCUs are engines of Black leadership that promote a sense of cultural pride and affirm Blackness, while offering expertise in scientific research and discovery across a diversity of disciplines and fields of study.

“In the face of current threats, it is essential that the scientific community inside and outside academia stand in solidarity with faculty, researchers, students and staff at HBCUs who have a right to pursue their academic ambitions without harassment or the threat of violence.

“Today, HBCUs remain underfunded. Compared to predominately white land-grant schools, Black land-grant universities have been underfunded by state governments to the tune of $12.8 billion over the last three decades. The current threats of violence targeting these institutions add to this systemic injustice and discrimination. It all sums to limit possibilities for Black Americans in their own nation.

“As we celebrate Black History Month and the fortitude of Black Americans throughout our history, we must underscore the expertise and leadership of HBCU’s and stand against the discrimination, belittlement, underfunding and terrorism plaguing our nation."