- More than a dozen historically Black colleges and universities were forced to clear campuses and cancel in-person classes amid a round of bomb threats Tuesday — the first day of Black History Month.
- One of the institutions, Howard University in Washington, D.C., was also among at least six HBCUs that received bomb threats Monday. An earlier round of at least eight bomb threats targeting HBCUs occurred in early January.
- Prominent lawmakers denounced the bomb threats Monday. "Threats, like those made today, rob students and the HBCU community of their sense of safety and security," Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia, said in a statement.
The bomb threats Tuesday triggered a wave of campus lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders at HBCUs across the country. Some of the same campuses were subject to similar incidents only a day or month before.
Colleges that received bomb threats Tuesday include:
- Edward Waters University, in Florida.
- Fort Valley State University and Spelman College, in Georgia.
- Kentucky State University.
- Xavier University, in Louisiana.
- Coppin State University and Morgan State University, in Maryland.
- Alcorn State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University and Tougaloo College, in Mississippi.
- Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia, in Washington, D.C.
Several of the institutions issued all-clear notices by early afternoon.
For Howard University, the bomb threat Tuesday morning was the third in less than a month. The Metropolitan Police Department issued an all-clear notification a few hours later, lifting the university's shelter-in-place order, according to the university's Twitter account.
Lay Jones, a senior supply chain management student at Howard, said the third bomb threat has made her extremely fearful.
"If these are constant ongoing threats, what happens to the time it's not a threat?" Jones said.
Howard University informed students after the all-clear that all academic, research, auxiliary and community service functions would be open and operating during regular business hours. But Jones said Howard should have moved classes online Tuesday, arguing that the university's approach to dealing with the threat doesn't make her feel secure.
"Having an email saying that this is happening and then saying that it's cleared within three hours of each other does not confirm to us that this was actually cleared in the right way — especially if this is a second threat two days in a row," Jones said.
Frank Tramble, a Howard spokesperson, said in an email that the university received notification of the bomb threat at 2:55 a.m., giving it time to clear campus when no one was there.
"While we find ourselves faced with the ongoing challenge of being targeted by threats to our community, we will not let it deter us from fulfilling our mission of providing superior educational experiences to our students," Tramble said.
Howard also informed students that heightened police presence would be on campus — a move Jones found alarming.
"It was even more unsettling than a bomb threat because I'm fearful of a bomb and now I'm seeing police on every single corner as a Black person that's going to school," Jones said.
Coppin State President Anthony Jenkins notified the campus Tuesday about a bomb threat there. A university spokesperson said the caller phoned Coppin's public safety communications center at 4:45 a.m. to make the threat but did not specify a motive.
Jenkins said the campus and local police, along with federal authorities, are investigating the threat. The university issued a shelter-in-place order and moved all classes online until receiving an all-clear notice.
"As you may be aware, in recent weeks, several historically Black colleges and universities, nationwide, have been subjected to anonymous bomb threats," Jenkins said in his message. "Thankfully, such threats have not yielded any credible danger, but they have been an unfortunate disruption to our community and others."
Jackson State said it received a bomb threat at 4:15 a.m. Tuesday. Although the campus was open after police issued an all-clear notice, the university said it would heightened law enforcement presence as a precautionary measure.
Morgan State issued a notification early Tuesday that its campus was closed due to a bomb threat and emergency personnel were assessing the situation. In a statement, Morgan State President David Wilson described the university as one of the most consequential institutions in the nation.
"Our history has been one where we have endured all kinds of challenges and disruptions, but we have always emerged stronger," Wilson wrote. "I'm hopeful that these bombs threats to our National Treasure, and to many of our other sister HBCU institutions, will be aggressively investigated by the FBI."
Spelman received a similar bomb threat just two weeks ago.
"These threats are despicable," Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said in a statement. "They are designed to make us feel fearful and vulnerable."