An international NGO in consultative status with the United Nations

International Law and Empowerment of HBCUs
addressed at Side-Session Event at the UN in

On May 7th, just prior to the May 11th UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of the United
, an African American delegation held a side-session at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, titled Empowering
Black Colleges:  International Law, African American Development and Self-determination
.  The session  
elaborated the impact on Black Education in the United States, and in particular the case for the empowerment of
Historically Black Colleges and Universities as a historic legacy, domestic entitlement and the international minority right
of the African American people in the face of US Department of Education policies, cutbacks, rollbacks and state
discrimination against HBCUs.

The side-session was held in Room XXIII of the Palais des Nations, between 1:00-3:00, on May 7, 2015. Speakers were

Dr. Farid I. Muhammad
, Professor Emeritus, East-West University, Prof. Vernellia Randall, Professor of Law,
Dayton University,
Mehmut Sukru Guzel,  2014 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr. Edwina Harris Hamby, Vice
President Fisk University, and
Dr. Alfred de Zayas, UN Independent Expert.  The paper of Attorney Standish Willis
was presented in his absence.
Barrister Majid Tramboo moderated the session.

Dr. Muhammad addressed how HBCUs are the instruments of African Americans' self-determination, and provided
empirical information derived from his series of surveys of African American support for self-determination.
discussed how the school-to-prison pipeline is the result of laws, policies and practices that push students
from school and into the prison system.
  Mehmut Sukru Guzel addressed the self-determination rights of African
Dr. Hamby outlined the historical legacy of HBCUs and their contribution to the civil rights movement and to
local communities.  
Atty. Willis' paper pointed out how African American communities were denied their human right to
education with the imposition of school closures and privatization, in violation of instruments of international law which
he extensively detailed.  
UN Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas spoke at length on self-determination rights from
the perspective of international law.

Strong international interest in the event was demonstrated by the attendance by officials from 12 States,
as well as UN and NGO representatives.
Subsequent to the event and in the days that followed, IHRAAM Delegates
met with numerous state officials to further pursue the issues raised.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are officially defined as "any historically black college or
university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans..."
and with the exception of four publicly funded HBCUs, all were founded after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued
and the Civil War ended. They have traditionally been economic drivers of African American communities, addressing
not only the educational needs of students, but creating and sustaining a professional and business elite with strong
community ties and commitment to community development and the unique African American cultural heritage.  They
currently represent about 3% of colleges in the U.S. but enroll 12% of all students who identify as black or African
Americans.  They produce 23% of all Black college graduates, and confer a striking 40% of African American STEM
(Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine) degrees, and a full 60% of engineering degrees.  They also educate
half of the country’s African American teachers and 40% of all African American health professionals.

It is estimated that, due to various US policies which have disproportionately impacted
HBCUs, their numbers will
drastically decline
from the 107 institutions presently existing to only a few elite institutions.  Already the colleges
have been severely impacted, losing some $160 million as the regulations governing federal student loans to parents
hit African American families hard.

Significantly, the
US Department of Education has just acknowledged that its 2011 changes to the Parent Plus
Program did indeed damage HBCUs
. See “ED Data Verify Damage Done to HBCUs”.  The Report found that “PLUS
loan amounts declined substantially at HBCUs … and they were not fully replaced by other federal aid,” as department
officials previously claimed. The report’s authors found that “At HBCUs the share of families with PLUS loans declined
46 percent, and the dollar amount of PLUS loans fell 36 percent.” This was more than the decline experienced by other

The US Universal Periodic Review comes not just at a time of crisis for HBCUs, but also at a time of public outrage at
the serial killings of innocent Black men by police habituated to impunity, and not least, of African American realization
that the
expected benefits of having a Black President in office have not been forthcoming.

It also comes at a time of startling new strides forward in the struggle to empower HBCUs:  
the creation of an HBCU
Congressional Caucus,  This new HBCU Congressional Caucus has brought together Black Democrats and Black
Republicans.  There are 40 Black Members of Congress who have signed up for it. The
Bipartisan Congressional
HBCU Caucus
mission is "to highlight and address unique challenges that HBCUs face; and to make sure their needs
are heard and recognized on Capitol Hill. The Bipartisan Congressional HBCU Caucus is an official caucus approved
by the Committee on House Administration in the 114th Congress. It is co-chaired by Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-
NC-12) and Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1)."

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM), an international NGO in
consultative status with the United Nations since 1993, is sponsor of the side-session, and lead sponsor among 7 other
cosponsors, of an
Alternative Report on the issue to the UN HRC submitted in September 2014.  The disastrous
Parents Plus loan program and other deleterious DoE policies, cutbacks, rollbacks and state institutional favoring of
predominantly white instittuions over HBCUs were factors addressed in the IHRAAM Alternative Report.   

For more information, contact
DOWNLOAD Word version

IHRAAM Alternative Report to the United Nations Human
Rights Council prepared for its Universal Periodic
Review of the United States
ABOVE: Room XXIII Palais des Nations:
Prior to side-session May 7th, 2015
SPEAKERS, LEFT TO RIGHT:  Prof. Vernellia Randall, Professor of Law, Dayton
University; Dr. Farid I. Muhammad, Professor Emeritus, East-West University;
Barrister Majid Tramboo (Moderator); Mehmet Sukru Guzel, 2014 Nobel Peace
Prize Nominee; Dr. Edwina Harris Hamby, Vice President Fisk University; Dr.
Alfred de Zayas, UN Independent Expert; Attorney Stan Willis [insert] Chicago.
LH: Ronald Barnes, Chair, IPNC, representing Native Alaskans
RH: Leon Siu, The Koani Foundation, representing Native Hawaiians
Center-left:  Deborah Muhammad


•        Restore the Parents PLUS program
lending criteria

•        Legally entrench federal support to
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
(HBCUs) and index to cost of living

•        Create a new fund which will at least
match the dollars raised by minorities
specifically giving to HBCUs

•        Apply the current IRS tax structure
that is applied to other nonprofit groups to

•        Restore/expand federal funding for No
Child Left Behind, Pell Grants, Head Start,
TRIO, Title III and cognate programs

Institutional change:

•        Create a new accreditation
organization approved by the DOE,
empowered to review accreditation denials
of HBCUs and defer them pending further
investigation into possible resolution.

•        Re-establish the White House
Initiative for HBCUs requiring African  
American selection of Chair and Members,
and accord this body the right to advance
policy consultation and approval as it
concerns policies impacting HBCUs.

•        Establish by democratic process a
White House Initiative for African American
Public Education

Judicial review

•        Enforce existing state-based legal
requirements for parity support to  
Atty Standish Willis,
whose paper was
presented in his
regrettable absence
due to travel