05-30-2024  2:59 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
Tennessee State University, Nashville, May 24, 2008 (Public domain image)
Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Published: 03 April 2024

Tennessee State University (TSU), the state’s only public historically college and university (HBCU), faces a tumultuous future as Gov. Bill Lee dissolved its board, a move supported by racist conservatives and MAGA Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly, who follow the lead of the twice-impeached, four-times indicted, alleged sexual predator former President Donald Trump. Educators and others have denounced the move as an attack on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and a grave setback for higher education.

Critics argue that TSU’s purported financial mismanagement is a manufactured crisis rooted in decades of underinvestment by the state government. They’ve noted that it continues a trend by conservatives and the racist MAGA movement to eliminate opportunities for Blacks in education, corporate America, and the public sector.

Gevin Reynolds, a former speechwriter for Vice President Kamala Harris, emphasizes in an op-ed that TSU’s financial difficulties are not the result of university leadership because a recent audit found no evidence of fraud or malfeasance.

Reynolds noted that the disbanding of TSU’s board is not an isolated incident but part of a broader assault on DE&I initiatives nationwide. Ten states, including Tennessee, have enacted laws banning DE&I policies on college campuses, while governors appointing MAGA loyalists to university trustee positions further undermines efforts to promote inclusivity and equality.

Moreover, recent legislative actions in Tennessee, such as repealing police reform measures enacted after the killing of Tyre Nichols, underscore a troubling trend of undermining local control and perpetuating racist agendas. The new law preventing local governments from restricting police officers’ authority disregards community efforts to address systemic issues of police violence and racial profiling.

The actions echo historical efforts to suppress Black progress, reminiscent of the violent backlash against gains made during the Reconstruction era. President Joe Biden warned during an appearance in New York last month that Trump desires to bring the nation back to the 18th and 19th centuries – in other words, to see, among other things, African Americans back in the chains of slavery, women subservient to men without any say over their bodies, and all voting rights restricted to white men.

The parallels are stark, with white supremacist ideologies used to justify attacks on Black institutions and disenfranchise marginalized communities, Reynolds argued.

In response to these challenges, advocates stress the urgency of collective action to defend democracy and combat systemic racism. Understanding that attacks on institutions like TSU are symptomatic of broader threats to democratic norms, they call for increased civic engagement and voting at all levels of government.

The actions of people dedicated to upholding the principles of inclusivity, equity, and justice for all will determine the outcome of the ongoing fight for democracy, Reynolds noted. “We are in a war for our democracy, one whose outcome will be determined by every line on every ballot at every precinct,” he stated.

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