Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that 97 historically Black colleges will receive $227.9 million in federal funds as part of its annual Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities grants. Of the 97 colleges receiving funds under the program, 15 are in Alabama. Alabama State University gets about $3.9 million, Alabama A&M University gets about $3.2 million, Lawson State Community College gets about $2.9 million, and Tuskegee University gets about $2.2 million. Other schools on the list receive anywhere from $250,000 for Gadsden State Community College to $1.7 million for Stillman College based on the number of students qualifying for Pell Grants.
The Oakland Unified School District and the U.S. Department of Education reached an agreement last week that would allow federal officials to monitor the district's efforts to curb the number of out-of-school suspensions of its African American students. The resolution closes an investigation by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights into whether African American students were disciplined more frequently and harshly than their White classmates. Last school year, African American students made up about 39 percent of the district's total enrollment but accounted for 63 percent of students with at least one suspension and 61 percent of those who were expelled, said Russlynn Ali, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights.
Students and workers recently stood together to fight for fair and dignified working conditions for campus workers and to defend universal access to public education for students. This demonstration focused on the recent decision by UC management to issue layoffs to five custodial workers (called the Eshleman 5) at UC Berkeley’s Lower Sproul Plaza. Ruben Reyes, one of the five laid off workers, explains: “I have been loyal to this university for six years as a senior custodian and I take pride in serving the students at UC Berkeley. My co-workers and I have recently been notified by the university that we are being laid off. These layoffs threaten the job security of all workers at UC and come at a time when the university is understaffing all our departments and hiring private subcontractors.” Despite several open custodial positions in other departments, the Eshleman 5 have been denied the opportunity to transfer and are being required to reapply with no guarantee of rehire.