The Maryland Senate voted unanimously to approve $580 million to settle a 14-year-old lawsuit brought against the state by its four HBCUs.
The lawsuit was filed in 2006 according to The Washington Post after the schools accused Maryland’s government of allowing academic programs at state-supported white universities to undermine similar programs at historically Black colleges and universities. Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University, The University of Maryland and Eastern Shore were the schools impacted.
The lawsuit will be paid out over 10 years. It states that Maryland’s action negatively impacted the viability of these programs at HBCUs, according to The Baltimore Sun.
In 2013, a court sided with the HBCUs, ruling that Maryland’s actions perpetuated segregation. But ever since the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Maryland “can and should” settle its case, the two sides have gone back and forth in various attempts to strike a monetary amount that both sides could agree on. Up until the Senate’s vote, both sides were at a standstill, with court-ordered mediation ending last July without a remedy.
Sen. Obie Patterson, (D-Prince George’s County), called Sunday’s unanimous vote “a great, great compromise bill.”
“Certainly, there will be some who say we didn’t go far enough or we didn’t get as much as we could,” Patterson told The Baltimore Sun, but added that school leaders are satisfied with the measure. “They assured me they were pleased with the progress we made.”
Patterson added that it is particularly noteworthy that every Republican senator in the state-backed the bill, along with Democrats.
“I have never been so pleased in all my life to see all green lights on the board,” Patterson told The Sun. “We all can come together for a common cause and do what’s right.”
Now the bill goes to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for consideration.