Never in his wildest dreams would Jake Ayers had believed, in 1975, what has become of the Mississippi college desegregation lawsuit, known simply as “Ayers.”
When all was said and done in 2004, Mississippi education officials said they could get to work enforcing the $503 million settlement designed to correct racist neglect of Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State and Alcorn State universities.
Instead, it is, Mississippi Valley State, Alcorn State and Jackson State that have been neglectful in recent years, failing to spend the funds awarded to them. By failing to be good stewards, MVSU, JSU and ASU have spat in the faces of all the trailblazers coming before them, who — for 29 years — fought all the way to the Supreme Court over state support of three historically Black universities.
In 2010 and 2011, Mississippi Valley State could not find a way to spend more than $1 million in Ayers funding (23 percent) allotted to them.
Jackson State ($202,000) and Alcorn State ($186,000) have also found ways not to spend money directed specifically for them.
Officials at Mississippi Valley State, in particular, should be admonished, if not fired, for the disrespect shown of the civil rights leaders who made it their mission for historically black colleges and universities to never suffer the indignity of being underfunded again, based on the color of the vast majority of those attending classes on campus.
And it’s nearly too late to turn back. As per the settlement agreement, Ayers funds are set to be reduced in fiscal year 2013, which begins in July 2012. As a result, funding for some university programs may require restructuring. Ayers funds will taper again in fiscal year 2019, and end in 2022.
Mr. and Mrs. Ayers worked too hard for too long to see their vision flushed down the toilet of indifference at a time when education funding is at a crossroads.
Shame on you all.
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