After more than 15 years of litigation, Maryland’s four Historically Black Colleges will receive a $577 million settlement as the result of a lawsuit over underfunding.
The deal approved last week will provide $10 million in additional funding toward Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, starting in 2023, according to the Associated Press. The settlement will be used for scholarships and financial aid support, faculty recruitment and more.
The lawsuit had accused Maryland of underfunding the HBCUs while developing programs at predominantly white institutions that competed with them, the AP reported. In 2013, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled that Maryland upheld “a dual and segregated education system” that violated the Constitution. On May 12, Blake issued an order stating the settlement should rectify the situation.
In March, the Maryland State Senate approved a bill 47-0 that would finalize the settlement, despite Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoing a similar bill last year, saying that he would approve no more than $200 million, The Baltimore Sun reports.
When the State Senate approved the measure in March, Michael Jones, the lead counsel for The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, who worked on the measure for a dozen years applauded the move.
"It's one of the largest pro bono civil rights settlements in history, and it is the only case of its kind that had a settlement that went around the governor and directly to the legislators,” Jones told the AP.