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January 19, 2010 7:20 PM Students Protest Closing Black Colleges

By Daniel Luzer

Barbour.jpg

To celebrate Martin Luther King Day yesterday people affiliated with Mississippi’s three public historically black universities, Alcorn State University, Jackson State University, and Mississippi Valley State University, marched to observe their schools. Or, rather, they marched to protest the governor’s plan to combine Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State in order to save money. According to Jackson, Mississippi’s WJTV:

“We don’t need closure. We don’t need merger. We don’t need a cut in our funding,“ said William Martin, who attended Mississippi Valley State. “We need to continue what we’re doing now in order to make education accessible.“
Hundreds of people representing JSU, Alcorn, and Mississippi Valley State turned out for Monday’s march through downtown Jackson. It began at the state fairgrounds and ended at the capitol. The group is opposed to Governor Barbour’s budget recommendation to merge some state universities including theirs to save money.

In November Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour proposed merging Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State into Jackson State University. He also plans to merge Mississippi University for Women into Mississippi State University. Barbour says his consolidation strategy would save the state $35 million. Many criticize the plan for unfairly targeting black schools.

Barbour also proposed saving money by eliminating 52 of Mississippi’s 152 public school districts. His strategy would merge low-performing school districts into more thriving ones.

Martin Luther King, Jr., incidentally, earned his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, a private, historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer