HBCUs across the country receive bomb threats, prompting evacuations

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Bomb threats were reported at seven historically Black colleges and universities on Tuesday, prompting widespread evacuations of students and campus employees. 

According to The Washington Post, The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Florida Memorial University, Howard University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina Central University, Prairie View A&M University in Texas and Xavier University of Louisiana all received bomb threats.

There have been no explosions reported. 

A last October view of the Howard University campus in Washington, D.C., which was among the HBCUs that received bomb threats Tuesday, officials said. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Most of the schools shared on their respective social media accounts that after investigations from their local law enforcement, clearances were issued for people’s return. 

“NSU Police Dept. completed investigation of a bomb threat received Tuesday evening and issued an ‘All Clear,’” Norfolk State University wrote on Twitter. “Students have been secured in a hotel and dorms remain closed until 8 AM Wednesday. NSU Police and authorities secured campus.” 

“All clear. Howard’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) and MPD responded to a potential bomb threat on campus this afternoon,” Howard University shared. “The perimeter was secured and searched. No active devices were found and the area has been cleared.” 

Spelman College, the top-ranked HBCU in the nation, reported that its campus also received a bomb threat.

“On Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, the Department of Public Safety at Spelman College and the Atlanta Police Department (APD) responded to a potential bomb threat in the Manley College Center that was reported to APD,” the college said in a statement posted on Instagram. “After a thorough search by both APD and Spelman Public Safety, no devices were found and the building was secured. The Atlanta Police Department is continuing an active investigation.”

The Black college threats are currently trending on Twitter.

“This is horrible,” one user wrote. “I would be terrified if I was still a student at Howard University and on-campus when we would have to evacuate over a bomb scare. These HBCU bomb threats are all hate crimes.” 

“HBCU’s getting bomb threats and it’s right here at the anniversary for that coup attempt at the capital? Not feeling that at all,” another added

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff reported that it received the threat at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, and NCCU officials say the call to its Durham college came in at 5:30 p.m. Other HBCUs have not disclosed the timing of their calls. 

Award-winning North Carolina journalist Chris Lovingood tweeted: “I should also note, Mt. San Antonio College in California–a non-HBCU–also received a bomb threat today.” 

HBCUs represent 3% of higher education institutions, and 10% of all Black students attending college are enrolled at the historic colleges. 

HBCUs confer 17% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to Black students in the U.S., according to McKinsey & Company. Black colleges notably help accelerate Black economic mobility. 

The Post reports that while bomb threats in the U.S. are down, actual bombings are up. In 2020, 818 bomb threats were documented, which is down 20% from 2018. However, there were 428 bombing incidents in 2020 — a 71% increase from 2019, according to a federal data center managed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 

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