HBCUs Discuss Expansion to California

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Of the 31 states currently lacking a historically Black college or university (HBCU), California may see a change as San Francisco civil rights advocates and educators aim to establish a satellite campus through collaboration with an existing HBCU.

The city’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) organized a summit in February that included both HBCU and local university administrators and was attended by Mayor London Breed, who expressed support, and HRC executive director Sheryl Davis, who is spearheading the effort. The event highlighted past discussions about bringing an HBCU to the area, which never materialized.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 requires an HBCU to predate 1964 for formal qualification, making the concept of a new HBCU impractical. However, plans for a satellite campus are being actively pursued by two universities’ administrators, pending approval from their respective boards.

The HRC anticipates financial support from the Dream Keeper Initiative, a San Francisco based fund aiming to reinvest $60 million annually in the city’s Black communities. Despite the absence of a finalized budget, a meeting with the city budget office is scheduled for further financial discussions. A meeting with HBCU administrators is slated for March in Washington, D.C., with a subsequent gathering in Atlanta at the African American Mayors Association conference in April. If planning maintains its current momentum, the satellite campus could launch as early as spring 2025.

Discussions about the idea originated from a reparations committee established in response to the 2020 murder of George Floyd, which was convened to focus on addressing housing discrimination, education inequities, and public transit access. But San Francisco residents had expressed interest in a Black-centered college or university long before the committee’s formation. Unrelated to the current discussion, considerations for a West Coast campus in Oakland have been explored by leaders of Paul Quinn College in Dallas.