HBCU Leaders Say They are Undeterred by Recent String of Bomb Threats

The presidents of HBCUs say they received bomb threats recently, but remain undeterred and will continue working to educate Black Americans.

“They are disappointed. They are traumatized,” Alcorn State University President Felecia Nave said of the bomb threats, according to NPR. “[But] they’re resilient. And they are resolved to continue to move forward and to make it known that we won’t be threatened, we won’t be scared away.”

Michelle Asha Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary for Higher Education Programs for the U.S. Department of Education, added she believes the threats were made to scare HBCU schools.

Florida Memorial University, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Norfolk State University, North Carolina Central University (NCCU), Prairie View A&M, and Xavier University of Louisiana received bomb threats in early January. In addition, Howard University, Bowie State University, Delaware State University, Bethune-Cookman University, Albany State University, Southern University, and A&M College all received bomb threats on Feb 1., the first day of Black History Month.

No bombs or explosives were found on any HBCU campuses. The FBI identified six juveniles as persons of interest. The Associated Press reported one of the callers who phoned in a threat against Bethune-Cookman University claimed to be with the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division.

“This investigation is of the highest priority for the Bureau and involves more than 20 FBI field offices across the country,” the FBI said last week about its investigation into bomb threats at HBCUs. “These threats are being investigated as racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism and hate crimes.”

HBCU presidents have noted the threats have come at a politically tense time in America. Republican states are trying to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory and outlaw books that teach the history of racism in the U.S. Many of these states are also restricting voting rights.

Walter Kimbrough, the president of Dillard University, compared the current threats of violence to what activists faced during the civil rights movement.

“We try to make civil rights a finite period of time. And now that we have some new challenges, we’re sort of trying to figure out, hey, what do we do with this,” Kimbrough told NPR.