COVID-19, Systemic Racism, and the Responses of HBCUs

COVID-19, Systemic Racism, and the Responses of HBCUsHistorically 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 US 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—Makola M. Abdullah of Virginia State University, Mary Schmidt Campbell of Spelman College, C. Reynold Verret of Xavier University of Louisiana, and moderator Gilda Barabino of Olin College of Engineering—as they discuss COVID-19 and issues of racial injustice.

Register here to join the town hall discussion. 


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 US Department of Defense HBCU/MI Program. Please contact John Veras ([email protected]) for questions.