(TRENTON) – In 1862, the United States passed a law to give states public lands to be sold or used for profit, and the proceeds would be used to establish higher education institutions that would come to be known as “land-grant colleges.” These institutions expanded higher education in areas like agriculture and mechanical arts, but this opportunity was not extended to African-Americans, who were not permitted to attend.
When land-grant colleges later began receiving federal funding in 1890, racial discrimination was prohibited in the admissions process. However, if a state established separate colleges, it could divide federal funding unequally amongst its institutions under the law. This led to the creation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which have been underfunded for over a century.
Seeking to end the inequities and racial discrimination that persist today in higher education, a measure (AR-125) sponsored by Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) to urge the President and United States Congress to create legislation to eliminate funding inequities between HBCUs and land-grant colleges was approved Thursday by the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
Assemblyman Wimberly released the following statement:
“Students at historically black institutions of higher education are still feeling the impacts of racism that began generations before them. Despite obstacles of unequal funding and inherent discrimination, historically black colleges for decades have provided opportunities for African-Americans to achieve their goals.
“Reform is long overdue. It’s time we begin investing in colleges equally so that historically black institutions finally receive the funding they deserve. For that to happen, we need the federal government to take action.”