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COVID-19, Systemic Racism & the Responses of HBCUs: A Virtual Town Hall Discussion

Makola M. Abdullah, President of Virginia State University
Mary Schmidt Campbell, President of Spelman College
C. Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University of Louisiana
Gilda Barabino, President-elect of Olin College of Engineering (Moderator)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are among the nation’s most vital and vibrant institutions, serving the educational needs of hundreds of thousands of students, advancing the full spectrum of human knowledge, and invigorating the cultural, social, and economic horizons of the regions they serve. And today, these universities are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, researching treatments, keeping their states and communities informed, and treating patients at academic medical centers. They are also at the forefront of the nation’s struggles against institutionalized discrimination, systemic inequality, and anti-Black racism that are being brought to bear every day in the forms of demonstrations and advocacy in most U.S. communities.

How have HBCUs responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and to the recent events surrounding the murder of George Floyd? As HBCU presidents look toward resuming in-person classes in the fall, what have they learned from the COVID-19 crisis, how will their institutions evolve as a result, and what might that mean for the future of HBCUs in America? How will HBCUs adapt to the serious financial challenges likely to arise in states and the nation in the months ahead as a consequence of COVID-19? What are HBCU campus leaders doing in preparation for a stronger and higher-profile role in terms of advocacy and leadership in directly addressing anti-Black racism in this country?

Please join the presidents of three of the nation’s premier HBCUs as they discuss COVID-19 and issues of racial injustice. This event is hosted by the National Academies’ Board on Higher Education and Workforce and Issues in Science and Technology and sponsored by the Kresge Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense HBCU/MI Program.

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