Higher Education Desegregation Case Goes to Trial in Maryland

After the parties failed to come to a settlement after five years of negotiations, a lawsuit against the state of Maryland went to trial this week seeking $2 billion for the state’s historically Black universities to compensate for the legacy of racial discrimination in the state’s higher educational system. The suit, filed by a group of alumni and students at the Black colleges, claims that the four historically Black state universities have been underfunded for more than half a century and that the state has failed to establish academic programs at the HBCUs that would attract white enrollments. Instead, the suit argues, duplicate programs exist at predominantly White institutions.

The latest census data shows that African Americans are 29.4 percent of the population in Maryland. Here, according to U.S. Department of Education data, is the Black percentage of the undergraduate student body at state university campuses in Maryland. Historically Black institutions are in bold type:

Bowie State University: 91%

Coppin State University: 88%

Morgan State University: 87%

Salisbury University: 11%

Towson University: 12%

University of Maryland Baltimore: 20%

University of Maryland Baltimore County: 16%

University of Maryland College Park: 12%

University of Maryland Eastern Shore: 77%

The non-jury case is being held in the courtroom of federal district judge Catherine C. Blake. Judge Blake is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School and was appointed to the federal bench in 1995 by President Clinton. She expects the trial will last for six weeks.

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