U.S. Legislator works to preserve HBCUs

WASHINGTON – If Sen. Zell Miller has his way in Congress, Georgia’s historically black colleges and universities will receive more than $120 million in federal funds for restoring campuses.

Miller, D-Ga., along with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., are pushing for the $755 million bill in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in hopes the nation’s black colleges would be able to renovate buildings that serve a total of 300,000 students a year.

Seven of the 10 black colleges in Georgia would be eligible to receive more than $64 million for restoring 47 buildings, including classrooms, libraries and dormitories. Alabama, the state with the most historically black colleges, would have seven schools out of its 14 institutions eligible for more than $66 million.

The proposed plan would provide schools with two-thirds the amount they request for restoration costs.

Waivers would be issued for institutions that cannot provide the rest of the funding.

Payments would be paid in installments by the federal government.

“Georgia’s historically black colleges and universities need our help to restore and preserve the historic treasures on their campuses,” Miller said. ” I am working hard to see that they get it.”

Miller was also a co-sponsor of the resolution making the week of Sept. 15 “National Historically Black College and Universities Week,” a time when college presidents met with President Bush and Congressional members to discuss the needs of their institutions.

Miller and Lieberman are not working alone in convincing Congress to allocate money to the nation’s 105 historically black schools.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is a co-sponsor of the bill as well as Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., who is leading his own endeavors in improving black colleges.

Cleland has sponsored legislation in the Senate, which would allocate $250 million to historically black colleges closing the “digital divide.”

The bill, which passed on the Senate Commerce Committee and is now pending on the Senate floor, would provide funds for computers, training instructors and updating campus technology.

“Our historically black colleges and universities are important culturally, historically and in the education of generations of young people,” Cleland said.