There are 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States. At least 14 of them received bomb threats on Jan. 31. According to NPR, 20 received bomb threats the following day, many of these receiving threats the day prior.
These bomb threats are still happening, and they are a continuation of systemic violence against Black people that has been happening for hundreds of years.
Folded into this centuries long history of violence against Black people — and Blackness — is also the history of journalism and media as being historically dominated by white people and power. Even today, Black stories are forced to exist in the margins.
We as a publication cannot unpack or define the atrocities committed against communities of color over time, and we don’t intend to. But, we can advocate to bring these voices to the forefront of national attention.
The New York Times published a piece on the mass bomb threats on Feb. 1. It didn’t reach the front page until the next day.
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the only HBCU in California, received a bomb threat that same day. It wasn’t included in the lists of affected schools in the articles by the New York Times or the Washington Post.
One of the most well-rounded voices speaking on this issue comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), whose CEO Margaret Huang recently spoke to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security regarding the threats waged against HBCUs.
The SPLC regards the bomb threats as an attack on HBCUs nationwide, and condemned the actions of responsible parties by stating, “the Southern Poverty Law Center stands in full support of the HBCU community and condemns this abhorrent act of hate that sought to impede the learning and physical well-being of students,” via a statement released by Huang on Feb. 4.
But in today’s content-driven society, media outlets risk sensationalizing Black trauma and providing unintended encouragement to people thinking of committing similar acts.
However, that doesn’t mean these events should go unreported. It’s important to amplify the voices these threats affect.
Center voices from the Black community. Spotlight ways to support HBCUs and the greater Black community. Don’t keep these stories in the margins.
Colleges that faced bomb threats between January 31st and February 1st:
University of the District of Columbia
Morgan State University
Coppin State University
Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley
Kentucky State University
Xavier University of Louisiana
Edward Waters University
Alcorn State University
Mississippi Valley State University
Jackson State University
Southern University and A&M College
Albany State University, Georgia
Bowie State University, Maryland
Delaware State University, Dover
Amplifying the affected voices, reporting on them, and prioritizing them as headline news all reflect the significance and reality of what’s happening. Black students, faculty, staff, and community members at these universities have not had a moment of peace from the possibility of bomb threats since the beginning of 2022. Black students across the nation have never had a moment of rest, as anti-Blackness and racism have created a culture of fear that exists across societal landscapes.
Students are sitting in lecture halls, gathering with friends, and eating in dining halls wondering when their school will receive another bomb threat — just because they are Black students attending a historically Black university.
This is not second-page news.
These bomb threats are acts of terrorism, and an affront to Blackness and the Black community. At the close of her hearing with the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, Huang said, “We cannot allow white supremacy, racism and bigotry to prevent our treasured HBCUs from being safe spaces where students can learn and grow.” This essence must be extrapolated into all universities, and into all newsrooms.
As allies, as a media organization, and as people, we at City on a Hill Press strive to amplify voices that are being silenced and use our platform to inform, and also serve as a safe space for underrepresented communities to voice their thoughts and feelings.
Do not allow white supremacy, racism, and bigotry to keep these issues from the top headlines.