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HBCUs to receive federal funding in wake of bomb threats

The Department of Education is helping these institutions beef up their security and improve mental health services.


The Biden administration is moving to protect historically Black colleges and universities from the onslaught of violent threats they’ve faced since the start of the year. 

On Wednesday, the administration announced it will make grant funds available for HBCUs that have been targeted with bomb threats over the last three months. 

Vice President Kamala Harris, an HBCU graduate, said the initiative will make the funds available through a Department of Education program known as Project School Emergency Response to Violence, or Project SERV. The funds will allow schools to enhance campus security and improve mental health services for students affected by the threats, she said during a news conference Wednesday.

In a statement Wednesday, the White House acknowledged the United States’ history of racist bombings and bomb threats designed to scare Black people. 

“Threats to the education and well-being of Black Americans and HBCUs are an unfortunate part of American history,” the White House said. “The bomb threats that we witnessed in January, each week in February — Black History Month, and this month are reminiscent of the attempts during the Civil Rights Era to intimidate and provoke fear in Black Americans.”

Vice President Kamala Harris during a press conference in Warsaw, Poland on March 10.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a press conference in Warsaw, Poland on March 10.Saul Loeb / Pool, AFP via Getty Images

More than a dozen HBCUs reported bomb threats on the first day of February alone, coinciding with the start of Black History Month. The FBI has opened a hate crime investigation into the threats and identified six “tech-savvy” juveniles as persons of interest in the case. The threats appear to be racially motivated, according to the agency. (That much seems exceedingly clear.)

The terrorist threats against Black educational institutions have come at a time when Black educators — and lesson plans about racial inequality more broadly — are facing vitriolic protests from white conservatives and their allies, who have falsely claimed these teachings profess a hatred of America. 

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump helped fan these flames of racist, white anger when he repeatedly targeted critical race theory and the "The 1619 Project," a series of essays on America’s history of anti-Black exploitation.

Trump’s attacks on race-conscious education have unleashed a deluge of conservative anger over lesson plans they don’t like, undeniably putting a target on people — and places — that might share them. 

The Biden administration’s announcement on Wednesday is just the latest sign that it views the bomb threats against HBCUs not as isolated incidents, but as part of trend of racist anger over nonwhite narratives about our nation’s history.