Settlement Dollars From Mississippi’s Higher Education Desegregation Case Are Flowing Slowly to the State’s Three Black Universities

In 2002 the state of Mississippi agreed to settle a lawsuit, first filed in 1975, which called for greater efforts to desegregate the state’s system of higher education. Under the agreement, the state agreed to allocate $503 million to upgrade faculties, academic programs, and the endowments of the state’s three historically black universities.

The state’s governing board reports that, to date, $145 million of the settlement money has been spent. Of the $75 million allocated for capital improvements at Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University, and Alcorn State University, $27.3 million has been spent. Additional monies have been used to enhance academic programs, including the establishment of an engineering curriculum at Jackson State University.

Money earmarked for two of the three universities' endowments remains in limbo. In order to access the endowment funds, the universities must achieve enrollments that are at least 10 percent nonblack for three years. By allocating scholarships to whites from Europe and elsewhere, Alcorn State has achieved this goal. But blacks continue to be more than 90 percent of all students at both Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State universities.