HBCU leaders discuss bomb threats; Sen. Cassidy meets with Xavier’s president on the threats

The Southern Poverty Law Center hosted a virtual panel discussion
Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 7:23 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As threats to historically black colleges and universities continue leaders at two local HBCUs discussed the threats during a Southern Poverty Law Center virtual event.

And they say the school will not let those making the threats win.

Xavier University in New Orleans and Southern University Baton Rouge received bomb threats and on the same day, the SPLC event was happening Spelman College in Atlanta reported receiving another bomb threat.

Lecia Brooks is SPLC’s Chief of Staff.

“We know that you’re rooted in strength and resilience,” she told the HBCU leaders.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate crimes.

Xavier Provost Dr. Anne McCall was one of the panelists as was Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough, Ph.D.

“These are acts of terrorism. The fact that they haven’t yet led to an explosion thank God does not change the fact that these are acts of terrorism,” said McCall.

Kimbrough said, “I think that this has been a wake-up call for us.”

Dr. A. Zachary Faison is President of Edward Waters University in Florida. He said students have resolved not to cower in fear.

“On our campus, our students now are emboldened believe it or not,” he said.

While Dillard University has not received any bomb threats this year there have been racist threats in the past and Kimbrough believes the current threats other universities are getting are designed to cause disruption, but he says HBCUs cannot allow that to happen.

“We have to make a sacrifice sometimes and we have to show that we are not afraid,” said Kimbrough.

U.S. Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary Asha Cooper, Ph.D., was also part of the discussion. She blasted the threats.

“These threats acts of intimidation and threats of violence will not be tolerated,” said Cooper.

She said the Biden administration is taking the threats very seriously.

“The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces are leading the investigation into these nationwide bomb threats and these investigations are being given the highest of priority,” said Cooper.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, meets with Xavier University President Reynold Verret about...
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, meets with Xavier University President Reynold Verret about bomb threats Xavier received as well as some other HBCUs.(Sen. Bill Cassidy's Office)

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana met with Xavier University’s President Dr. Reynold Verret a few hours after the SPLC event.

After the meeting, Cassidy released the following statement:

“Good meeting with President Verret. We spoke about many things including his vision for the future of Xavier, like how do we have more Xavier students involved in health sciences. We also discussed the recent bomb threats which his school and other HBCUs received. He assured me that the FBI is perusing this and he assured me that all faculty, staff and students at Xavier are safe.”

FOX 8 asked Dillard and Xavier representatives on the SPLC panel if they were concerned the bomb threats could hurt recruiting.

“I wouldn’t expect that it would,” said Kimbrough. “If people say, well, I’m not going to these schools because they’re having bomb threats then they win.”

McCall said, “I believe that we will do fine in our recruitment.”

Kimbrough thinks authorities making arrests for the threats will have an impact.

“I think some of this will subside after a while once there are some arrests and people see that they’re going to be held accountable,” he said.

McCall said those making the threats have a goal.

“To attack HBCUs, to claim to want to bomb HBCUs says very much, very strongly, you’re not safe anywhere. We don’t you to be able to learn anywhere,” she said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the nation’s Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris had to be rushed out of a Washington D.C. high school because of a bomb threat. He was there for a Black History event.

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