Expert Comment on Federal Assistance for Black Colleges in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

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Marybeth Gasman

Assistant Professor, Penn Graduate School of Education

"Giving to black colleges now will help repair not only the physical damage done by the hurricane but also the historical damage inflicted over the past century," Dr. Gasman says.

She points out that Congress, through the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, excluded private colleges from FEMA flood-aid program, a decision that has left Xavier and Dillard with little to no support for rebuilding infrastructure after Katrina.

"The simple fact is that the majority of the wealth in the United States is controlled by whites.  If black colleges typically have small endowments, it is because their alumni do not have the same access to wealth as the white middle class," Dr. Gasman says.

"It is time for us to pay back our debt to African-Americans, and we can do so, in part, by supporting black colleges, those ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and those in our own state and local communities."

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