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Overcoming segregation in Alabama becomes responsibility of HBCUs – historically Black colleges and universities

Jamie Fleming
is like other non-traditional college students in
several ways. He has a strife and a
nineteen-month-old son. He has a full-time
job and he commutes more than 240 miles a
week to attend classes. But until Fleming,
who graduated from an all-white high school
on rural Sand Mountain, Alabama, enrolled at
Northeast Alabama State Community College
on a scholarship, he had never sat in a
classroom with an African American.

Now Fleming, a twenty-three-year-old
junior majoring in secondary education, is
attending historically, Black Alabama A&M
University in Huntsville, Alabama, as part of
a court-ordered program designed to attract
white students. The scholarship he receives is
one of the desegregation remedies that grew
from a case the U.S. Justice Department
brought against Alabama in 1981 in an effort
to eliminate vestiges of segregation in its
colleges and universities.

Three trials and fifteen years later, U.S.
District Judge Harold Murphy told the state
its responsibility includes giving Alabama
A&M and Alabama State University in
Montgomery up to $1 million a year each for
ten years for scholarships to recruit white

Murphy did not ask the mostly white
schools that shared the focus of the 1995 trial
to take further steps to increase minority
enrollment or faculty. As a result, some
officials–like James Cox, a member of
Alabama State’s board of trustees–found
Murphy’s 1,000-page decree a paradox
because little of the burden for integration
has fallen on Alabama’s white

“None of us are completely satisfied
with the court order,” said Cox, “but we will
adhere to it.”
Scholarships and Enrollment
Alabama State, which offers scholarships to graduate
students as well as
undergraduate, has
increased its white
enrollment to 600 this
past fall–up from 397
in the fall of 1995,
when its enrollment
was more than 7.5
percent white.

In Alabama A&M’s bachelor’s degree
programs, white enrollment has hovered
between 5 and 6 percent in recent years,
officials said. This past fall, approximately
225 of Alabama A&M’s 4,200 undergraduates
were white, according to James Heyward,
director of admissions.

scholarships are not
available to white
graduate students at
Alabama A&M
because for years it has
attracted large numbers
of white students,
many in education, to
study for master’s
degrees and advanced
teaching certificates.
Alabama A&M reports that about half of the
1,500 students in its graduate school classes
are white.
“A scholarship is just a thing to be used
as a catalyst to try to get the university to
resemble the population of society at large in
this section of the state,”
Heyward said.

In the 1995 trial, the two institutions
argued that they should get more resources
for more courses to help make up for what
they did not get during segregation. The
additional resources would be used to better
serve Black students as well as to attract
more white students. Alabama State now has
several doctoral and master’s degree programs.
Alabama A&M also has new engineering

Heyward sees a benefit to the court
order. By bringing in more whites, he believes
that those students shill see–and tell
others–that many of the misconceptions
about African Americans and the education
available at HBCUs are just that

“Often times people say things and they
don’t know always [whether] what they are
saying is true,” said Heyward. “These
students like Jamie, for instance, will be able
to counteract that. They will be able to say
that, `Hey, wait a minute. That’s not true. I
was there. I went to
school at A&M. Don’t tell me that.”‘

In addition to the money for the
scholarship programs, each school will receive
$1 million a year for fifteen years for
endowment funds. The state will also match
contributions the institutions raise for those
endowments–up to $1 million a year for
fifteen years. That means that each school’s
endowment fund has the potential to
accumulate $45 million over fifteen years.
Each campus will be required to put 25
percent of the endowment proceeds back into
its fund.

Also caught up in the court order is John
C. Calhoun State Community College’s
Huntsville campus, with a quarterly enrollment
that fluctuates between 1,900 and 2,000
At the behest of both Alabama A&M and
the predominantly white University
of Alabama at Huntsville, the judge
presiding over the desegregation case has
imposed limits on Calhoun’s growth by
restricting enrollment gains and the college’s
hours of operation.

“They have contended that at times, our
presence has kept them from being
able to desegregate their campuses,” says Dr.
Gary Green, the college’s vice president, who
disagrees with that argument. “We believe we
serve an entirely different segment of the
Huntsville community.”
Calhoun’s Huntsville campus offers
mainly night classes. About 16 percent of the
college’s students are Black, 3 percent are
other minorities and about 81 percent are

College officials have insisted the school
does not pose a barrier to desegregation at both
the four-year universities in Huntsville. Rather,
they have argued it: could help.
“If you look around the country at
thriving metro areas, such as Denver and
Phoenix, you will find community colleges
and universities working hand-in-hand,” Green
says. “When that happens, you can actually
increase minority enrollment.”

The judge, who didn’t agree with the
community college’s argument, limited
enrollment growth to about 5 percent a year
and prohibited the college from expanding
from its current evening hours.

Student Acceptance

Students at A&M seem to have accepted
the “diversity” scholarships, but not without
“Just as long as they have the same
qualifications for other scholarships,” said
Corey Askew, Alabama A&M’s student
government president. “As long as Alabama
A&M gets something positive, I have no
problem with it as long as everything is

George McKinney, an A&M senior in ;
sociology and criminal justice from Troy,
Alabama, said some people might be upset
from “just not knowing the situation.”
“This is not taking [scholarships] away
from Blacks. That’s why I’m not upset,” said
McKinney. “But if it did, then I would be

Ephraim Befecadu, a freshman in computer
science, shrugs. “It works the other way
around at white colleges,” he said, using as an
example the story of a Black friend from
Huntsville High School who is getting more
scholarship money at Vanderbilt University
than a white friend,
the class valedictorian, who also attends

“Nobody has a problem because there are
not many here yet,” he said.
“If Black students lose
scholarships because of it, it will be
a problem. ”
Alabama A&M offers full
scholarships to white students with
high school or junior college grades
averaging B+. But at Alabama
State, some students have
complained that the school is
offering scholarships for tuition,
fees, course materials and books
to white students entering with
overall grade point averages as low
as 2.0, which is a C.

“Ours are academic
scholarships,” said Polly Blalock,
an Alabama A&M recruiter who is
white and a University of
Alabama graduate. “All
of ours are
very much at a comparable level to what
we call our regular
academic scholarships.”

Since last fall,
Blalock has visited
college fairs and college
nights at high schools
and community
colleges from
Montgomery to
communities in
southern Tennessee.
She expects to see students
she met on those trips to begin signing up in
the next several weeks as a June 1 deadline
nears. Since starting the program, Alabama
A&M has signed up seventy-six students.
About 25 percent of Alabama’s 4.2
million residents are Black.

At the University of Alabama in
Huntsville, 770 Blacks account for
approximately 11.5 percent of its total
enrollment of slightly more than 6,700
students, said officials. This is up from about
5 percent in 1990.

Blacks accounted for 31 percent of the
enrollment at Troy State University in
Montgomery, which had a total of more than
3,100 students in 1995, according to the
Alabama Commission on Higher Education
(ACHE). At Auburn University in
Montgomery, Black enrollment exceeded 27
percent of nearly 5,650 students, said the

Faculty Hiring

But Joe Whatley, Alabama A&M’s
attorney in the desegregation case, said
minority faculty hiring at some of the state’s
larger, mostly white, schools remains an issue
in the case.
UAH’s minority faculty included eight
African Americans, which was fewer than
3 percent of its 269 full-time faculty in 1995,
according to ACHE. Blacks accounted for
approximately 3 to 3.5 percent of the
full-time faculty at major state
universities like Alabama at Tuscaloosa
and Auburn University. By comparison,
whites make up 23 percent of the Alabama
A&M faculty, and nearly 31 percent
at Alabama State,
according to ACHE.

As he nears the end of
his first year at Alabama
A&M, Fleming said he has had good
and bad experiences. His community
college instructors had told him that he
couldn’t expect any help from
professors at large schools, but
Fleming said that hasn’t been the case
at Alabama A&M, where he expects to
complete his degree.

“It would be hard to pay for school
with the situation I’m in,” says Fleming.
Alabama’s governor, Fob James Jr., has
proposed a $3.7 billion education budget, an increase
of 3.7 percent over the current year’s funding with all
the increase going to primary and secondary
education. Higher education funding would decrease
almost 1 percent to $958.8 million under his proposal.
The budget for the University of Alabama system
would remain nearly the same at $322.1 million, while
funding for two-year colleges would decrease 1.4
percent to $184.1 million, according to an analysis by
the Southern Regional Education Board.

The higher education commission and the
statewide programs it administers would receive
$13.3 million, down 10.6 percent, primarily due to the
recommendation to cut the Teacher Education
Scholarship program from $2.1 million to $500,000.
The governor has suggested new governance
options, including one which would fold all four-year
colleges into two systems, each organized by its own
board rather than the current structure of separate
institutional boards. The governor would leave the
two-year colleges under the direction of the State
Board of Education.

Statistics on the Six Schools Involved in the Alabama

Desegragation Case

Faculty by Race/Ethnicity and Gender, Fall 1995


Nonresident Indian/

Institution Allen Black Alaskan

Men Women Men Women Men Women

Alabama A&M University 13 3 106 82 -- --

Alabama State University 10 -- 91 124 1 --

Auburn Univ. at

Montgomery 3 1 9 10 2 1

Troy State Univ. of

Montgomery -- -- 9 7 -- --

University of

Alabama-Huntsville 4 -- 3 5 -- 1

Calhoun State Comm.

College -- -- 35 36 -- 2

Institution Asian Hispanic

Men Women Men Women Men Women

Alabama A&M University 40 4 3 -- 56 39

Alabama State University 14 4 -- -- 55 36

Auburn Univ. at

Montgomery 6 2 1 1 174 146

Troy State Univ. of

Montgomery 3 -- 1 -- 102 69

University of

Alabama-Huntsville 27 3 1 1 164 71

Calhoun State Comm.

College 1 1 1 1 210 179

Institution Unknown Total

Men Women Men Women

Alabama A&M University 15 5 233 33

Alabama State University -- -- 171 84

Auburn Univ. at

Montgomery -- -- 185 181

Troy State Univ. of

Montgomery -- -- 115 76

University of

Alabama-Huntsville 1 1 180 82

Calhoun State Comm.

College 13 23 260 242

Students by Race/Ethnicity and Gender Fall 1996


Institution Alien Black

Men Women Men Women

Alabama A&M University 183 125 1,873 2,264

Alabama State University 24 7 2,038 2,914

Auburn Univ. at

Montgomery 4 3 462 1,106

Troy State Univ. of

Montgomery 3 -- 284 690

University of

Alabama-Huntsville 218 79 277 493

Calhoun State Comm.

College 13 6 487 664



Institution Alaskan Asian Hispanic

Men Women Men Women Men Women

Alabama A&M University 6 8 11 15 3 9

Alabama State University 1 -- 2 6 7 6

Auburn Univ. at

Montgomery 7 8 65 68 22 33

Troy State Univ. of

Montgomery 9 6 20 15 27 13

University of

Alabama-Huntsville 53 35 121 131 59 59

Calhoun State Comm.

College 92 133 41 62 39 38

Institution White Unknown

Men Women Men Women

Alabama A&M University 238 317 3 --

Alabama State University 196 347 2 2

Auburn Univ. at

Montgomery 1,614 2,244 9 10

Troy State Univ. of

Montgomery 933 1,120 4 10

University of

Alabama-Huntsville 2,660 2,528 -- --

Calhoun State Comm.

College 2,235 2,819 139 168

Institution Total

Men Women

Alabama A&M University 2,327 2,936

Alabama State University 2,270 3,262

Auburn Univ. at

Montgomery 2,183 3,462

Troy State Univ. of

Montgomery 1,280 1,856

University of

Alabama-Huntsville 3,388 3,325

Calhoun State Comm.

College 3,046 3,890

COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates

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