Okay, everybody can go ahead and check your cellphone or your audio devices, and you wanna go ahead and turn them off. Make sure we don't have any interruptions during this important press conference. We appreciate everyone attending today, and the first thing I wanna do, I'm Democratic leader Larry Hall, Democratic leader in the House of Representatives. I represent District 29 in Durham, where North Carolina Central University is located. As well, I'm a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, and attended North Carolina Central University undergrad, just to lay the groundwork, so you know how important, and how great HBCUs are. But right now I wanna introduce Miss Andrea Harris who will be the moderator, and is the coordinator of the HBCU Project, and she'll be moderating our press conference this afternoon. So, thank you very much. >> Thank you. I wanna thank all of you for coming today cuz I think this is such a critical time and it's such a critical issue. We all know that the key to opportunity in this country is education. And without question, there is no doubt about the impact that the Historically Black Colleges and
Universities have had on this nation and our state. We are fortunate in North Carolina to have ten HBCUs, five public and five private. And those ten institutions have an economic impact of upwards of $2 billion annually on our state's economy. Well sometimes I ask, what will our state investment be, if we it were trying to recruit an industry that would bring that type of impact to us? >> [NOISE] >> Today we have several people who are gonna speak on Senate Bill 873, and so first I'm gonna ask Representative Larry Hall, who is Democratic Leader in the House, to come back up and make some comments on this bill. Followed by Senator Gladys Robinson, and then I wanna ask the person who was most affected, in terms of the HBCUs that's kinda been out front when it comes to conversations about cuts and closings and all of that, to also make some comments, and we have some others that follow that. For the press' purposes, I want you to know that today we have not only members of The Divine Nine and Delta Sigma Theta. We have representatives and leaders of the HBCU National Alumni Associations here, we have students here, we have community people and supporters in this room. So this is a broad base of folks who are concerned about, and committed to the survival of HBCUs in North Carolina. So let me ask if Representative Larry Hall would come back and make some comments, followed by Senator Gladys Robinson. >> And again, as you folks come in, you can come on around. We're gonna take a quick break so anybody who needs to come on around, or shift this way so that we'll have some more folks coming in. First of all the question is, why should folks be heard in this legislation that's being put forward to affect our HBCUs? And Miss Harris stated, we have ten HBCUs in North Carolina. This legislation, although only citing five HBCUs, certainly impacts all of our HBCUs and the educational fabric that runs throughout our community. So, who should be at the table? Who should have been at the table at the start? And what should the solutions be that we're pushing to achieve? Those questions are ones that the experts in running HBCUs should have been able to be involved. Those questions have not been answered, those folks have not been at the table, and so we have a flawed product. We all agree we have to preserve HBCUs, both public and private. Going forward, we need to bring the best minds, and the best experience to ensure we do that. Anything less, casts a shadow and a question on what the legitimate purpose is, and what will be the outcome. How do we sustain whatever plan we have? How do we sacrifice and recognize the benefit of having that plan? If we do not do that, we will not have all the stakeholders at the table. We will not have all the stakeholders faithfully participating, and the plan will not succeed. So we need to change this process. We need to get the stakeholders at the table. We need to have a successful plan that will help maintain, support and promote our HBCUs in North Carolina. Thank you. >> [APPLAUSE] [BLANK_AUDIO] >> Good afternoon. I'm Senator Gladys Robinson, I represent Senate District 28, which is Guilford county. And I am a graduate as well of a public and a private, Bennett College in North Carolina A&T State University, and so it is important to me that we focus in on these issues. And Mickey will know and remember, that even when I was on board of governors for ten years, I was the advocate down here all the time talking about what we needed. The new Gallup Poll done in 2015, says that Black students are more likely to feel supported, if they attended an HBCU. And Black graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities are more likely to have felt supported when they were in college, and to be thriving afterwards than their peers who graduated from predominantly white institutions. The survey, which surveyed 50,000 alumni of HBCUs, attempts to measure what colleges are doing to help students enough, and their well-being. They looked at, in terms of five areas, social, financial, purpose, community and physical elements. And then they asked graduates, did you have a professor who cared about you? >> Yes!
Yes! >> And that is critical! And so when people talk about HBCUs and the value, the value added is that we went to schools where people knew who we were, they cared about us. And regardless of whether we came from a poor place like Columbus, Georgia, where I came from, or came from Raleigh, or Charlotte, or somewhere, or New York. They were insistent that you do your very best, and you are successful. And so, other institutions don't do that. That's why we have to make sure that our institutions not only survive, but they thrive. It is time for us now to talk about what we're gonna do to make sure they thrive. Andrea and I just did a little session at Bennett, where we talked about alumni giving, and we talked to you a lot about alumni giving. We have to give too, but we also have to make sure that our state stays invested in one of its most valuable resources, our students. So I commend you for your efforts. We're here, call us, Andrea calls all the time. >> [LAUGH] >> And make sure we're doing the job you need us to do, but we need you. We need you to make sure that people in your area who represent you, who are not us, understand that we must get funding. I just looked today, and Mickey, the Focus Growth money is not there. They send it. No, we used to have Focus Growth money for our institutions. They gave it to the general administration, and over years of cuts since 2007, it is not there. So our universities do not have money that's focused on student enrolment. So we've gotta do something about this. Thank you for your time, and thank you for coming. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Now I wanna ask the presidents of three of the National Alumni Associations to come forward. And that's Abdul Rasheed, who's President of Elizabeth City State University. Patti Sanders-Smith, who's president of Winston-Salem State, and Raymond Privott, who's president of the Fayetteville State University. All right, if they would come. We also have organized in North Carolina, back in the fall of this year, the North Carolina HBCU National Alumni Leadership Roundtable, and all of our schools are represented there, including the three people who are about to speak. So Abdul, please come forward. >> And while he's coming forward, can you all please make space so we can ensure the media is able to get to the back area there where there's the media space set up, if you don't mind. >> Thank you again Miss Harris, and I thank all of you for being here. As Miss Harris has indicated, my name is Abdul Rasheed, and I stand as the current national, president of the National Alumni Association of Elizabeth City State University. I'd also like to acknowledge the chair of our Board of Trustees, Paul Norman, who is here as well. But as Miss Harris has indicated, we have come together as, would you all make some more space for the press in the back please? As National Alumni Associations, we've come together to both advocate for the stabilization and the growth of our respective institutions. Clearly you know that Elizabeth City is been out front as one of the major targets that's been targeted for whatever has been forecast, as it relate to doing some damage to our schools. Well, let me say to you that Elizabeth City State University is and has been one of the fine institutions in this state that produce graduates that are performing, that are contributing, that are innovating, that are giving back. And the return on investment in Elizabeth City and all of our HBCUs, it far exceeds anything that they put in. >> That's right! >> So we have to stand continuously, >> [APPLAUSE] >> To say that we support dedicated, targeted, strategic investments in our schools. >> That's right! >> And this bill brings question to all of that. And we need to stay the table until we're satisfied that this strategic, targeted investment benefits our schools short and long term. So I'm gonna stop there, and let our other leaders speak. Thank you. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Good afternoon. >> Good afternoon. >> I am Patti Sanders-Smith, and I am President of the Winston-Salem State University National Alumni Association. >> Go Rams!
>> And I'm also a graduate of Fayetteville State University where I received my doctorate degree. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Winston-Salem State University has a long history of educating and encompassing students from all walks of life. On the surface, Senate Bill 873 promises to make a college education more affordable. However, to many, it is seen as yet another tear on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The five state-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities have always been underfunded. The idea of the state is to do more with less. Of the five universities included in Senate Bill 873, four of the five are the least expensive in the University of North Carolina system. If this bill is so great, why not choose the most expensive to attend versus the least expensive? As citizens of this state and alumni, we understand the political games that are being played, and how HBCUs always find themselves in a bullseye when cuts and underfunding is discussed. We understand that our chances are often placed in critical positions, and it was up to us alumni, students, board of trustees and supporters to continue to fight this unjust bill. On behalf of the Winston-Salem State University National Alumni Association, we want to go on record as being in favor of affordable education. However, we just are not in favor of Senate Bill 873. >> [APPLAUSE] >> A special good day to each of you for being here today. This is an unprecedented egregious event in the lives of HBCU universities, institutions. I am Raymond Privott, president of the Fayetteville State University National Alumni Association. I stand to speak on behalf of the 25,000 plus Broncos nationwide. Let me begin by saying that we categorically oppose Senate Bill 873, under all conditions set forth. Fayetteville State didn't just get on the block, we're the second oldest state-supported institution in North Carolina. We've been here 149 years, and during those 149 years, we've educated some of the best minds in education, medicine and all of the other professions known to mankind. We've stood the test of time. We've stood our grounds. We've taken the cuts, and the hits that the legislators have put on us, and we've moved forward. Fayetteville State is probably one of the most diverse institutions in the state of North Carolina. >> That's right! >> We've taken the whip that has been given to us, and we've moved forward. We've increased our retention rate, we've done everything that has been asked of us. On behalf of all of us, we say to those who are going to say that we're worth no more than $500, that money cannot buy, >> No! >> Nor can money speak to, the value of the education that Fayetteville State University has afforded us. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Over this land, over this land and over this nation, I take Cumberland County, one. 98% of the administrators in the school system in Cumberland are graduates, either the Bachelor's, master's or doctoral level of Fayetteville State University. We are there to stay, we're not going anywhere. If you're gonna help us and talk about money, give us if you will, that $70 million that you found, and give it to all of us every year. So that we can educate all of the young men and women who passed through the paths of Broncoland at Fayetteville State University. Bless you, and have a great day. >> [APPLAUSE] >> So now I wanna ask the President of Saint Augustine's University, President Everett Ward. If he would come forward, and make some comments on behalf of his institution, and may be say something about the impact of this bill on private universities. And I also wanna ask following that, Miss Tyler Swanson, who's the field secretary for the state NAACP to make some comment when President Ward completes his comments. >> Good afternoon. >> Good afternoon. >> As the 11th president of Saint Augustine's University, it is indeed an honor to be here. We are here because we cannot be confused at all, that the attack
on public institutions that are historically African-American, certainly will have an impact on private institutions. All HBCus will bill impacted by this bill. So we cannot be fooled for one moment, to believe that we can sit in isolation as private Historically Black Colleges, while the attempt to move Historically Black Colleges on the public level are impacted. As a graduate of Saint Augustine's, which is a private institution, but also having earned a PhD from North Carolina A&T State University, I understand clearly the significance and the contribution of both of these institutions. What I would say in closing, just imagine this nation without the intellectual capital that has come from our institutions. Saint Augustine's next year will celebrate 150 years. I cannot imagine, nor can you, what this nation would be, if not for the sons and daughters of Saint Augustine's, the sons and daughters Barber Scotia, the sons and daughters of Johnson C. Smith, and the other private institutions. But more importantly, without the public institutions. The impact that we have when we have a president in Barack Obama, who's calling for intellectual capital at a record number in 2020, we cannot afford to jeopardize not one of our institutions. Not one. >> That's right! >> But I can say to you as president of this institution, when I see young men come and young women come to our institution every year. With the commitment to learn, and the willingness to contribute to society, we cannot afford to close not one door at a Historically Black College. >> [APPLAUSE] >> What we should be talking about is, how can we increase the number of students who are attending historically black colleges? That's the discussion that needs to be held in the state of North Carolina. And let us remember the words of Angela Davis, if they come for you tonight, >> [NOISE] >> They come for us tomorrow. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Let me ask Irv Joyner, who was a part of the executive committee for the NAACP State Conference to come forward and speak on behalf of the NAACP, and represent Tyler. >> Good afternoon. >> Good afternoon. >> Thank you all for being here at this critical time in our history, but of course, every time the General Assembly meets it's a critical time. >> [LAUGH] >> In all ways. But I think it's worthy of note, well first of all, I'm Irv Joyner, and I'm the chair of the Legal Redress Committee of the North Carolina NAACP, and we are certainly energized to join with you here today. But I think it's important to understand why we all, where we are. As I look out here, most of you know that not too long ago, we had $500 tuition. >> [NOISE] >> And the reason, the reason that the tuitions are what they are, is because this General Assembly over the years has cut back on the money available to institutions of higher education, and more particularly funds available for HBCUs. So it is not our fault that the tuitions are as high as they are, we place that at the feet of the members of the North Carolina General Assembly. And they need to be reminded, that they created this shortfall that they now seek to further exacerbate by doing what it is that they're doing. We are, as you have heard, high class institutions, >> That's right! >> And we have produced gems, diamonds out of the rough. We have made a way out of, >> No way. [LAUGH] >> On behalf of this state. Now, they don't have any problems taking our tax dollars. >> No! >> Now you go to the beautician, you have to pay tax on that now. when you go to Wendy's, you have to pay tax on that now. But they don't want to return an equitable share to our the institutions that prepare our students to do better, and better, and better and we have been successful in doing that. Now one of the things also that you might make note of is the fact that the people who are pushing these proposals are not graduates of HBCUs. >> [APPLAUSE] >> And in addition to that, they have few constituents who are graduates
of HBCUs. So it may be difficult for them to understand the gravity of what it is that they seek to do, and that's why we're here to remind them. That we are here, and we're not planning to go anywhere. We're going to fight for our institutions because our institutions have always fought for us, they've been here for us, and we are where we are because of the contributions that they have made on our behalf. So with that, we will continue to fight with you, in terms of saving the HBCUs because we know that you can't have a quality education on a dollar general budget. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Since this is Delta Days at the Capitol, you can't do this without us asking that a representative of Delta come forward. So I'm gonna ask Valerie Leary, is she in the room? If she would come forward to make comments on behalf of Delta Sigma Theta. >> You all didn't make no noise! >> [APPLAUSE] >> Hello, hello. I'm Valeria Levy. Clearly in red, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, but also a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. >> [APPLAUSE] >> I am proud to stand here and say that this is wrong. Everyone in here can stand as professional people and say, we owe what we have today to our HBCUs. >> [APPLAUSE] >> And tell those people who were elected in these gerrymandering lines, that take away our vote, and don't allow us to put people in place that represent our views, we will not let this stand. And we have been here today as members of Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated, and we've received quite a bit of information that we'll be able to use and we're currently using, to speak to our legislators about what needs to be done going forward. Thank you, and thank you all for being here. >> [APPLAUSE] >> We're gonna end with three final comments, and then I want you all to please join us out on the Halifax Mall for a rally, where we'll have some other people join us and have some comments, and hopefully share some more information on this issue. I wanna ask if Representative Paul Lowe, would come forward and make some comments, two minutes. I'm so sorry, Senator Paul Lowe, would come forward and make some comments. We both said, that's right. >> [LAUGH] >> Followed by Senator Erica Smith-Ingram, and the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, and that is Garland Pierce. >> Thank you. Senator Paul Lowe, District 32, Winston-Salem, Winston-Salem State University. >> [NOISE] >> I am very concerned when I see this bill, when I first heard talk of this bill. I am a graduate of Bishop College, and some of you know the history of Bishop College. It was in Dallas, Texas, and it was one of our historic institutions that did not make it. My foundation crumbled in 1988, and one of the things that I said, is if there's anything that I can do, within my power to see that, that never happens again, I would do just that. When I got ready to go to college, I tease one of my very, very smart colleagues, Senator Smith-Ingram. I said, I didn't graduate summa cum laude or magna cum laude, I just graduated, thank you Lord! >> [LAUGH] >> And when I came to Bishop College, in no way was I prepared to do college work, and I had a whole lot of problems with writing. But there was a Dr. Thelma Payne Thompson Daniels, God bless her soul, who kept me encouraged, kept me coming to her office. Kept me with the discipline, and the fortitude, and the encouragement and a
strong fist to make sure that I got what I needed. And these are the things that have happened at HBCUs all over the south, >> That's right! That's right!>> And will continue to happen. And it's a travesty to think that those that have no understanding of the impact of such institutions, and what they are doing for North Carolina and this country, would want to devastate them. That not only hurts our institutions, but it hurts the North Carolina higher education system at large. So let's keep fighting the fight. Thank you. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Good afternoon, and thank you for being here. I am Senator Erica Smith-Ingram. I represent Bertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, Tyrrell, and Washington counties in northeastern North Carolina. >> [APPLAUSE] >> And I stand here today as a proud graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. My twin sister and I both graduated from there. All of our family members are beneficiaries of the HBCU experience. My mother attended Saint Augustine's University, and I'll also stand with my sorors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. My husband is a proud graduate of Elizabeth City State University. So in all the capacities that I stand before you today, let me first thank you for standing in the gap, and being present to let your voice be heard. That is so important in this process. When we look at this bill and what it's target effect was supposed to be, it was supposed to be to enhance the enrolment growth at these five universities. But of those five universities, wouldn't you guess, Winston-Salem State University is on the record of the HBCUs as having record enrolment in the last five years. >> [APPLAUSE] >> UNC Pembroke has had record enrolment, and even this year projects its highest enrolment ever. When we look at the target, how can you say Elizabeth City has an enrolment problem? I guess the question is, how can you have the audacity to say that Elizabeth City has an enrolment problem when you started putting it on the chopping block in 2013? >> [APPLAUSE] >> It is this General Assembly who said, we wanna close the university. If you're going to continue to announce, and put before the people and before students, who aspire to go to our universities. If you're going to tell them that we're gonna shut the school down, how can you dare stand here and say, we wanna now address the enrolment problem? Let me tell you the truth about our HBCUs. We have a rich history, we put out the best and the brightest. When you look at our intellectual capital, my sisters and my brothers, we find that corporations come from all across the nation to get the best and brightest that we have to offer. And now the question is, you wanna take of our fruit, but you don't wanna feed the roots, >> [APPLAUSE] >> About what we stand for as HBCUs. We must stand together, this is a classic example of divide and concur. And it was Martin Luther King who said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. So our public institutions, our private institutions, our alumni, our current students, our entire communities, we must stand together as we are today, and continue moving forward until we get our rightful share. Don't throw out a $70 million carrot, and think you've solved the historical problem of appropriations of decades, and decades, and decades of underfunding our universities. If you're gonna do it for tomorrow 70 million, let's do it every year. And then let's give it to the universities, and let them do what they do to make sure that the funding goes to the students. Thank you for being here, and thank you for joining us in this fight. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Don't get in the way of a glad Black woman. >> [LAUGH] >> This is not mad, glad. Just excuse me, as I know everything has been really said, everybody just having said it. But I'm state Representative Garland Pierce, representing Scotland, Hoke, Robeson and Richmond, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. A question
has been asked in the airwaves and on radios and TVs, where is the Black Caucus on this issue? We wanna let you know that we're here, we're prepared to fight. We will do all that we can with the negotiations that's going on to make a difference. So do know that your Legislative Black Caucus is here. My good friend Mickey always tells me, when I stand and speak, I speak for every Black in North Carolina. That's an awesome responsibility, one that I don't take lightly, and we're here and we're gonna do all that we can. And I wanna let you know that every knocked down is not a knocked out. And we are here as the Legislative Black Caucus, we're on the battlefield. And if we go down on the battlefield, do know that our gun barrels will still be smoking where we're shooting at this bill. >> [APPLAUSE] >> So I'm gonna ask that the final comments before we take any questions from the press, come from our senior leader. The person who's been here and who's served us, and has been unwavering in his commitment towards HBCUs, to people and to people who have been in difficult situations, or had the least of resources and opportunity, and that's the Honorable HM Mickey Michaux. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Well I'm the one at a disadvantage here because all these folks have basically said where we are. But let me give you a few facts that you ought to be aware of that, so you won't go away from here without a little bit of knowledge as to what is happening. Senate Bill 873 was a standalone bill initially, and they thought they could get it through. This idea had been put forward a couple of years back by Senator Berger, but it never got off the ground. This year it's getting off the ground. So they have received so much of pushback on this bill, and they said, well, we'll teach them a lesson. They took the bill, the Senate took the bill and finally put it in the budget bill. Now, what does that mean? That means you're opposed to Senate Bill 873, but now that it's in the budget bill, you're gonna be put in a position as to where you're gonna have to vote against everything just to get rid of that. Well, let me tell you something. You still need to vote against it, I don't care where it is. I don't care where it is because there are a lot of things gonna happen anyway. But really folks, they talked about $70 million. I have looked at the budget this morning. Now one of the unfortunate things about coming from an HBCU, I come from North Carolina Central University, >> All right! >> [LAUGH] >> Twice. >> That's right! >> But what you have to understand is, I think one of the reasons behind this bill being pushed forward is the fact that the HBCUs are turning out so many folks, that are beginning to understand what they've been doing to us all these years. >> That's right! >> Now, they made the mistake of making me senior chair of budget some few years back, and that, to be very honest, that was a fairly serious mistake. Cuz it doesn't take me long to pick up a budget they put out there and tell you what's in it, and what's not in it. For instance, they tell you that $70 million is gonna be put in there, so that this scoop/g doesn't make up for the lost revenue. There is no $70 million in that bill! The $70 million in there, that says, the State Budget Director may, >> May! >> May put $70 million in the 2018 budget. Not this year's budget, not next year's budget, but the 2018 budget. And you cannot, no legislature can bind any future legislature, so it doesn't have to come up at all. They tell you that, for instance, North Carolina Central and A$T will get merit scholarships. That means these folks who are real smart and everything, they'll get a full ride, but it's to be matched. It's matching money. In other words you all gonna have to go out and raise the money, and then the state will match it. But there's no money in there, even for the match! >> [LAUGH] >> At least if you're serious about a matter, then what you do is set up a reserve that says to future legislatures, this was serious and we meant this. But anyway, the problem is, and I go back to the basic problem, is that we have become too smart and too sophisticated for them. And that we have learned what they have been doing to us all these years, and now they're trying to just really, I don't know. Just saying, you're too smart, you don't need all of this,
so let's go back. This is a bad bill. This is bad legislation. We need to stop it now. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Let me ask if Representative Larry Hall and Mickey, Garland and others can come up here. If the press has any questions, Abdul. Does anyone from the press have any questions? >> I'm not press, my name is Elton Brewington, candidate for the US Congress, Second District. >> Yes. >> Just wanted to see what the plan of action is, if there is one, and what we need to do. >> There are things that can be done. For instance, just as a small example, we've got ideas. You can freeze, you can freeze the tuition as it is right now at all of the institutions, that's number one. Number two is, if you've got money that you gonna put in there, let's put $100 million in, divide it up among those five institutions, $20 million each, and put in at-need scholarships rather than merit scholarships. There are a lot of things that can be done. We've got a lot of plans, if they will listen. >> If they will. >> On the other part of the press, over here. >> Do you know where the House stands on this in general? >> In general? I don't know. I can tell that there is a faction in the House that's dead set against the bill, we are not the majority at this juncture. But hopeful that there are folks on other side, on the majority side, that have expressed some interest in this bill, in the fact that it does hurt a lot of folks. Let me just give you an example. You got three schools in that bill, Fayetteville State, Elizabeth City, and Winston-Salem State. Three Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Pembroke, but you got Western Carolina in that bill also. Now the $70 million they're talking about, who's gonna benefit the most from that money is Western Carolina, not the other four institutions because of their enrolment. That's one thing, and the other thing is that, believe me, if this bill passes, in five years time, those three schools are gonna be gone. >> They're gonna be gone! >> That's right! >> [BLANK_AUDIO] >> I just wanna make one closing comment. I know everybody's headed over to the rally, so we can really hear from some other speakers. We wanna make sure we recognize Dr. Henry Ponder, who is in the audience right here. Dr. Ponder? Would you just raise your hand, Dr. Ponder? >> [APPLAUSE] >> He's been the president of four Historically Black colleges and Universities, a history maker in his own right, and again we thank you. If you have any questions for legislators, we'll be out in the hallway. We wanna let folks clear out to go over to the rally on the Halifax Mall. And if you all could go ahead and proceed that way now, and the legislators will be outside the door here to take any questions further from the press. Thank you. [BLANK_AUDIO]