Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Alabama A&M officials would rather "kill the messenger" than show the spine needed to demand payment of $527 million that belongs to their school


A rational observer might expect Alabama A&M University officials to be upset with their school's administration, which has chosen to make no attempt to collect more than $527 million the state owes it due to chronic underfunding over roughly 30 years. But said observer would be wrong, in fact, Alabama A&M officials are angry with the online investigative journalist who broke the story about the cowardly decision of A&M administrators to pass on even trying to collect a huge sum of money to the Huntsville campus, a sum that lawfully belongs to the school.

The journalist in question is Donald Watkins, who has roughly 50 years of experience as an Alabama attorney, knows how the state's dysfunctional Republican-driven government works (or more often, doesn't work), and is intimately familiar with A&M and its sister Historically Black College or University (HBCU), Alabama State in Montgomery. Watkins also knows a screw job when he sees one, and students, faculty, staff, and alumni of A&M are being screwed by their own "leaders." Under the headline "Alabama A&M University Officials are Angered by Articles Exposing Their Decision to Waive a $527 Million Debt Owed to the School by the State," Watkins writes:

In the wake of my December 18, 2023, article titled, “Alabama A&M’s Rod Steakley’s Political Group Seeks Ban on Equitable Funding for HBCUs,” top university officials are angry with me.  This article exposed how, when, and why Alabama A&M President Daniel K. Wims, university trustees (except for Trustee Nichelle Gainey), and the school's outside counsel (Rod Steakley) betrayed Bulldog Nation.

On the advice of Attorney Rod Steakley and President Daniel K. Wims, Alabama A&M University has elected to waive collection of a $527,280,064 debt owed to the university by the state of Alabama. This represents the amount of money the university was underfunded by the state during the past 30 years, as determined by the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture in September.

On September 18, 2023, both federal agencies signed and delivered a letter to Governor Kay Ivey declaring that this $527,280,064 debt is due and owing to Alabama A&M.

Since September 19, 2023, I have published 23 articles about this $527,280,064 debt. I have also been the featured guest on two Alabama-based talk radio shows to discuss this matter of significant interest to Black Alabamians.

Watkins took the lead in reporting the sad truth about A&M's "leadership" because he knew the state's mainstream media outlets, such as Al.com, would mostly ignore the story. It turns out that Alabama A&M would rather be ignored than have accurate, in-depth, hard-hitting reports about news on their campus. Writes Watkins: 

Legacy media organizations in the state, which have never valued the positive contributions made to the state by Alabama A&M and historically black Alabama State University, have published only one or two articles about this debt since September 18, 2023. 

Alabama A&M has paid MAGA Republican-affiliated public relations firms big bucks to suppress stories about this debt in legacy media publications and their smaller, captive, Black-owned media networking partners.

Alabama A&M officials have privately accused me of “setting Negroes wild” over this $527,280,064 debt. 

As long as Alabama A&M officials waive the university’s collection of this debt, they will be liked by the MAGA officials who run Alabama.  Alabama A&M officials would rather betray Bulldog Nation than upset the MAGA power-players in Montgomery.

For the proverbial "thirty pieces of silver," Alabama A&M's governing officials have dutifully assumed the role of Judas Iscariot in this unprecedented act of betraying an HBCU institution in Alabama.

"Setting Negroes Wild"? Every Black person in Alabama -- no, every sentient, caring person of any color, in Alabama and beyond -- should be insulted by the use of such language . . . and they should let A&M officials know of their disgust, given that the language insinuates that higher-ups in Huntsville consider modern-day Black people to be little more than savages swinging from trees. After hearing this, it's hard to imagine that any young Black person would want to spend four years in Huntsville, earning an "A&M education." It's hard to imagine that any would-be donor would send one penny to such an institution. Writes Watkins:

In their private discussions, MAGA officials in Montgomery have accused me of meddling in “white folks' business.” According to my confidential news sources inside state government, they already have the "niggers at A&M" under control.

President Daniel Wims will be allowed to keep his job and certain trustees will be reappointed to another term on the board, if they band together and waive the university's entitlement to this $527,280,064 -- which they have agreed to do.

In "street" language, this is an epic "sellout" of Alabama A&M University. 

Black federal, state, and local elected officials in Alabama have been totally useless in this matter. More often than not, these officials are programmed to “whore” for White special-interest groups, instead of fighting for the constitutional and civil rights of their political constituents.

Unfortunately, Alabama A&M will never see a dime of this $527,280,064Only one trustee (Nichelle Gainey) has shown the backbone needed to fight for this money, and she has no support in this matter from her colleagues on the board.

If you like and admire the Clarence Thomas style "leadership" for Black America, you will be pleased to know that a dozen or so mini versions of Clarence Thomas are running Alabama A&M University today.

Meanwhile, I am “unbossed” and “unbought.”  I will continue to report the cold, hard truth about the cowardice of Alabama A&M University's governing officials, as well as their monumental acts of betrayal.

In my book, any university president or trustee who will not secure and protect the financial assets of his/her school is not fit to serve in a leadership role. If this viewpoint is “setting Negroes wild,” then so be it.

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