Quick Search

Active Bloggers

Central State University class of 1995
Sofía Montiel Sofía Montiel
Other College... class of 2017
Reginald Culpepper Reginald Culpepper
Clark Atlanta University class of 1998
Bethsave Lozano Bethsave Lozano
- College Not Listed - class of 2020
Anica Oaks Anica Oaks
class of 2012
Elynor Moss Elynor Moss
North Carolina Central University class of 2003
Brooke Chaplan Brooke Chaplan
class of 2015
Min Sammy Jackson Min Sammy Jackson
class of

Birmingham-Southern president reaches out to HBCU peers while pursuing $37.5 million to save school

Birmingham-Southern president reaches out to HBCU peers while pursuing $37.5 million to save school
Posted By: Sofía Montiel on January 25, 2023

Topple the wall. Figuratively. Literally, too.

As they did in Berlin just over 33 years ago. The Peaceful Revolution is what they called it when the Berlin wall (literally) separating East Berlin/East Germany from West Berlin/West Germany and the Iron Curtain (figuratively) toppled into ignominious history.

The wrought iron wall surrounding the artfully manicured 192-acre campus of Birmingham-Southern College on Arkadelphia Road in west Birmingham has stood since the summer of 1977. Stood for more than four-and-a-half decades on a hilltop “reared against the sky” — as its alma mater hails. Stood separating the respected 164-year-old private liberal arts college from its Bush Hills neighbors. From the city where it’s resided since 1918.

From the historic predominantly Black Bush Hills neighborhood surrounding the campus. From the Black city whose name it bears.

The wall was built—as long-time Birmingham residents know painfully well — in the wake of tragedy. After the **** abduction, ****, and **** of Quenette Shehane in 1976. She was a 21-year-old graduate of BSC and was set to return to her family’s home in Clio after a few weeks in Birmingham with her boyfriend. On the night of December 20th, the couple cooked steaks at a fraternity house on campus when Shehane left to get salad dressing at a nearby convenience store.

She never returned.

The next day, her frozen body was found in her car; she had been abducted at the convenience store by three men, it was later revealed in court, **** in her car as they drove around and shot while trying to escape.

The salad dressing was found in Shehane’s car, as were two cupcakes she bought for dessert.

Three men — Wallace Norrell Thomas, Eddie Bernard Neal, and Jerry Lee Jones — were convicted for this horror. Thomas was executed by electric chair in 1990; Neal and Jones remain incarcerated, having been denied parole multiple times.

It likely goes without saying, but for clarity: Shehane was white; the three men Black.

The wrought-iron wall was an overreach, an action borne of grief, anger and fear that unfairly tainted, unfairly convicted an entire community for the heinous actions of three men.

Now, it must come down. Literally. Figuratively, too.

Now, as BSC President Daniel Coleman seeks $37.5 million from taxpayers to save it. As he pleads for public money to save the private institution from its woeful decisions and an unforgiving economy. Save it from gutting its endowment to build, build, build while being ghosted by donors. Save it from slicing tuition and fees in half in 2018, from $35,791 to $17,650, more likely benefitting the spawn of alums and friends than anyone outside the figurative BSC wall. Save it from a recession that knocked the wind out of its already wheezing financials.

Save it from declining enrollment, a troubling trend impacting higher education nationwide. And one not likely to change in the near future due to demographic realities that cannot be ignored.

In the fall of 2019, BSC had a total enrollment of 1,209 students, according to the university. Last fall, just 975 students enrolled.

In 2019, 167 enrolled students were African American or 13.8% of the student body. Last fall, 147 Black students were enrolled, 15.1% of BSC’s dwindling population.

According to the latest census, 69% of the population in the city where BSC resides is Black; 43% of the county where it resides; 26% of the state.

Topple the wall.

To its credit, by what Bush Hills residents say, BSC has been a decent neighbor. Its students ignoring the wall to support their surrounding community.

“Any time we had something to do in the neighborhood, we could always go to Birmingham-Southern, and their kids would help us,” Bush Hills neighborhood President Waladine Streeter told my colleague, Rebecca Griesbach. “They’ve just been a solid partner for us. I could go on and on as I think back through the years, but it’s just been solid and anything we ask them to do … they go back and work it out for us.”

“We’ve enjoyed a good relationship with BSC over the years,” adds resident Anthony Hood. “They’ve been a good neighborhood and partner.”

Yet to many beyond those borders, including graduates from Birmingham City Schools, BSC might as well be Saturn. BSC should be a magnet for those kids, not a mirage.

It should be — if BSC is as prodigious a liberal arts educator as it professes to be — a beacon for Black thought leaders nationwide, in featured events that attract thoughtful residents from throughout the region.

Coleman, too, must be more mindful of the hues among BSC’s administration — Controller Donald Hollings is the highest-ranking Black official, according to the school (although he is not listed among the school’s “senior team on the BSC website). And that an institution of higher learning nestled in Birmingham, in Jefferson County, in a state with more historically Black colleges than any state in the nation, does not have a robust African-American studies program ( a “distinction” program requiring just 4 1/2 units from 14 courses scattered among nine different departments is not a major) haughtily blind.

“He’s got to diversify that campus,” says State Rep. Juandalynn Givan, a prominent voice in the debate over whether the legislature will heed Coleman’s plea. “It’s a ghost town.”

Coleman also seems to be aware of the look of his request in a state with a twisted history of responding to funding requests from HBCU presidents. In recent weeks, he reached out to Alabama A&M President Daniel Wims and Alabama State President Quinton Ross for their support. Wims and Associate Vice President Shannon Reeves met with Coleman, Reeves confirmed but would not elaborate on the content of the talks.

“Dr. Coleman reached out, but I have not spoken with him,” Ross shared in a text.

Bobbie Knight, president of Miles College, just 12 miles from BSC, said Coleman has not reached out to her, though the two chatted briefly at a recent event.

“The deal won’t happen without [support from HBCU presidents],” Givan says, “There’s going to be pushback from them, and rightfully so. Several members of their boards of trustees reached out to me. They’re upset about even the prospect of us giving them money and rightfully so. Those years when they just wanted an extra $1 million or $2 million, it was denied, denied, denied. So now how can we even fathom the thought of giving Birmingham-Southern additional money? That’s their issue.”

Topple the wall. Even as the legislature wrangles over this spending conundrum — one that is blending political fault lines.

“You’ve got Democrats who feel the same way Republicans feel about it,” Givan says. “It’s rare, it’s hard.”

While awaiting a response — direct deposit or funds not available — topple the wrought iron wall that has stood now for far too long.

Literally. Figuratively, too.

SOURCE Roy S. Johnson For AL.COM
If you enjoyed this article, Join HBCU CONNECT today for similar content and opportunities via email!
Please Login To Post Comments...

More From This Author
PetSmart is Offering Awesome Opportunities for YOU to Join their Team! APPLY NOW!
Florida A&M hires robust academics and compliance staff
HBCU All-Stars National Spotlight Player of the Week: Tennessee State's Jr. Clay leads weekly honorees
Historically Black TSU Hopes for Grammy with Gospel Album
Tennessee State’s Jashun Bryant selected to HBCU Legacy Bowl
Home Depot Quadruples Annual HBCU Investments
Latest Blogs
All power to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

All power to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

Can’t speak for all alumni of HBCUs, but from where I sit after a loooonnnggggg while, it looks like we made significant headway in terms of notoriety and respectability. We got the eyes now. Not ...more
Sofía Montiel • 77 Views • January 27th, 2023
Creating Bowl\Post-Season opportunities for HBCUs and why we should do it

Creating Bowl\Post-Season opportunities for HBCUs and why we should do it

College football season is over as conference championships and post-season opportunities have all been decided. When you look over the season, HBCU football teams were in the news and a part of every ...more
Sofía Montiel • 106 Views • January 27th, 2023
Norfolk State Spartan Legion Marching Band voted HBCU Sports Band of the Year

Norfolk State Spartan Legion Marching Band voted HBCU Sports Band of the Year

NORFOLK, Va. — The Norfolk State University Spartan Legion Marching Band has been voted the 2022 HBCU Sports Band of the Year. In a week long poll, the Spartan Legion gained over 44 percent of the ...more
Sofía Montiel • 284 Views • January 25th, 2023
Talladega College's History

Talladega College's History

The history of Talladega College began on November 20, 1865, when two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, both of Talladega, met at the convention with a group of freedmen in Mobile. Fro ...more
Sofía Montiel • 72 Views • January 24th, 2023
Taoism: Philosophy Explained -at the Chinese American Museum DC

Taoism: Philosophy Explained -at the Chinese American Museum DC

Recorded on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 6pm-7pm ET (3pm-4pm PT) - Our first program of the year features a conversational explanation of this influential dogma that is neither religion or creed, rat ...more
Elynor Moss • 208 Views • January 24th, 2023
Popular Blogs
Divorce in America in 2009 – What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

Divorce in America in 2009 – What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

Join Brother Marcus and the cast and the crew of the Brother Marcus Show live this Sunday evening on February 1, 2009 @ 8:00 p.m. for another hot topic in our community! “Divorce in America in 2009 ...more
Brother Marcus! • 70,557,885 Views • January 27th, 2009


Seemingly innocent medication such as Visine eyedrops are used by people to concoct a mixture with similar effects as a date-rape drug. When mixed with alcohol and taken orally, the eyedrops can l ...more
Siebra Muhammad • 92,701 Views • May 23rd, 2009


IT'S PRETTY OBVIOUS FOLKS: Some of our Republican senators and congressman..are Swearing & Wearing White Sheets Also ..NASCAR was given 70million dollars in tax breaks ..in the New Fiscal Cliff Deal ...more
David Right • 46,947 Views • December 28th, 2012

"Chain Hang Low" check out the real meaning of the Lyrics!

Recently there is a new artist out of Saint Louis that goes by the name JIBBS. Jibbs debut single "Chain hang low" has a history that most people are not aware of. The particular nursery rhyme that th ...more
Tyhesha Judge-Fogle • 36,015 Views • November 9th, 2006
Disney Princess Movie a

Disney Princess Movie a "Slap in the face" to African American Men...

Ok... So I guess this is what we get when Disney finally makes a movie with a black princess. A young black girl who falls in love with a prince that is is apparently from India (not African American ...more
Will Moss • 31,284 Views • January 2nd, 2010
Please Give Us a Like on Facebook!