Tamela Mann - Overcomer

Six FAMU Students Sue State of Florida for Unequal Funding, Alleging Racial Discrimination Against HBCUs

Lee Hall, the administration building at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. (FAMU Office of Communications) (FAMU Office of Communications)

A group of six students at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee filed a class-action lawsuit against the state Thursday alleging decades of discriminatory underfunding of the public historically Black university.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, has many of the hallmarks of past fights in Maryland, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina for equitable treatment of public HBCUs. It alleges that the state pours more money into traditionally White institutions such as Florida State University, also in Tallahassee, and allows schools to duplicate FAMU’s academic programs.

“There is a vast difference between the two universities in the city of Tallahassee,” said Britney Denton, a doctoral student at FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a plaintiff in the case. “If you go to the north side, you’ll see the magnificent sports facilities and amazing housing. But when you get to the south side where the HBCU is, it’s a different world because we aren’t given the same resources.”

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Denton said it was clear to her and her classmates that FAMU wasn’t to blame for the stark differences in infrastructure and institutional wealth, but rather the university was a victim of state-sponsored discrimination.

“We could see the bigger picture,” she said. “The university needs resources from the state and local government, which haven’t provided enough support.”

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

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