Trial Begins In Federal Lawsuit Alleging Continued Segregation At Md. Universities

Ann McClure's picture

Alumni and students from Maryland's four historically black universities took their long-held view that the state perpetuates racial segregation to court Tuesday, arguing that their institutions are underfunded.

The federal lawsuit calls on the state to pay for improvements at the four schools — Morgan State, Coppin State, Bowie State and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore — that would make them more competitive with traditionally white peers. It also calls for the dismantling of programs at traditionally white schools that "unnecessarily" duplicate programs at the historically black universities.

The case has drawn national attention from legal scholars and advocates for historically black institutions, who are intrigued by its implications for federal enforcement of laws aimed at ensuring equality in higher education. For Maryland, it revives decades-old questions of whether the state has done enough to support and protect its historically black institutions.

"Maryland has not eradicated the vestiges of segregation," Michael D. Jones, a Washington attorney who represents the plaintiffs, a coalition of students and alumni from the state's historically black universities, said during opening statements Tuesday.

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