Black Colleges Beef Up Security After Recieving Hate Mail
By Scott Dyer
BATON ROUGE, La. — Southern University was one of several historically Black colleges and universities that kicked off the year 2000 by tightening security after receiving a threatening racist hate letter.
“I’ve been in this business for 30-something years, and this is the first time that I’ve ever seen anything like this, even in the ’60s,” says Dr. Edward Jackson, chancellor of Southern University’s Baton Rouge campus.
The unsigned one-page letter, embellished with a confederate flag and filled with grammatical errors, began with the words: “We hope you’re getting all of the education you can in your so called historic n——r colleges. And universities. You’re just waisting (sic) precious time.”
Harrison Baptiste, a member of the Southern University Board of Supervisors who previously served as police chief of the Baton Rouge campus, says he had never seen anything resembling the hate letter.
The letter also attacks civil rights leader Jesse Jackson for his protest of the expulsion of six Decatur, Ill., high school students allegedly involved in a fight at a football game last fall.
Like identical letters received by other predominantly Black institutions, the missive was postmarked in Fayetteville, N.C. Southern’s Jackson says he is taking the letter very seriously, especially after the racially motivated bombings that occurred last fall at Florida A&M University.
No one was injured in either of the small explosions at FAMU, but racist calls accompanied both incidents, fanning the flames of fear on the 12,000-student campus.
And even though authorities arrested a 41-year-old unemployed White man who allegedly acted alone in the FAMU bombings, Jackson says he has no choice but to take steps to protect his Southern University campus from possible racist terrorism.
Jackson says he’s ordered Southern University campus police to tighten security, and has alerted both Louisiana State Police and the FBI.
“We’re asking our (police) officers to be much more observant of strangers on campus, particularly at odd hours,” Chancellor Jackson says.
Also tightening security were Fisk University and Meharry Medical College, two predominantly Black schools located in Nashville, Tenn., which also received the same letter. Police patrols at Fisk and Meharry were reported stepped up over the New Year’s weekend because of the threats, spokesmen for the two schools say.
According to The Associated Press, Metro Nashville Police tested the letters for fingerprints and found it had been handled by a large number of people.
“With all the yo-yos we have out there, I think we need to take this seriously until it’s investigated,” says Capt. Richard Briggance of the Metro Nashville Police Intelligence Division.
Other schools reportedly receiving the same letter included Oakwood College and Alabama A&M University, both in Huntsville, Alabama State University in Montgomery and Stillman College in Tuscaloosa.
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