A letter from Uvalde, Texas about the school shooting

By: Sarah Hidalgo-Cook

Editors note: I have visited Uvalde, Texas some years ago with the Rural Development Leadership Network (RDLN), a non-traditional leadership education and certification program for rural leaders. One of the leaders sent this statement about the school shooting and gave us permission to print it.

 

 It rained all night in Uvalde (we really needed).  I have decided that Jesus wept with us last night.  He washed away the sadness and ugliness of our day yesterday.  We at my agency, Southwest Area Rural Transit -SWART, are all well and very lucky, as we had one of our staff whose son attended Robb Elementary and was in the 4th grade.  He was safe but I pray that the after effects of this tragedy is something he can overcome in time. 

My husband, Kevin, is very sad this morning as I am.  His grand-great nephew’s daughter Ellie was one that was killed yesterday.  She was in the classroom in which the shooter entered.  It took over 8 hours before he had confirmation of her death as DNA had to be used to determine who she was, as was the same with other victims.  

I was born and raised in Uvalde, Texas. My home growing up, where my father still lives, is three blocks from Robb School. I walked home from Robb every day with my childhood friends. At that time, the 70’s, the school did not have security fencing or even enclosed classrooms. The classrooms were open to outside. If you walked out the door, you were stepping into the elements.

As I sat at my desk that Tuesday dealing with normal SWART issues, I heard the sirens. Our community has daily car chases and bailouts because of the illegal activity stemming from the influx of immigration, since we are thirty miles from the border with Mexico. When the realization of an active shooter at one of the schools became a reality, our minds were reeling.

The chaos continues. We are bombarded by media, state and national politicians, Hollywood, and others who do not really share our heartache. I knew only one victim personally. — Ellie Garcia, our great-grand niece. We would run into her and her family in the grocery store or see her on her parents’ Facebook videos and picture. We are heartbroken and feel so much sadness for her parents Steven & Jen, and her four sisters. I also know an aunt or uncle, grandmother or grandfather, or extended family member of the other beautiful souls who were taken too soon.

As recently as a week ago, we saw many of these young girls playing softball. We love to watch the sport, which reminds me of when our girls played. My heart aches for what they must have endured in those last moments and for what their parents and families must endure from now on. I am also angry!

“Not in my town. Not in my elementary school. Not to my people.” That is what my heart is telling me. I know that we are in for years of anguish. This is a wake-up call for our community and other rural communities everywhere. When the media is gone and we are left alone to face this nightmare, we will need to lean on each other more than ever. We will need to lean on our faith in God. Uvaldeans are my people. This is my home. We have always been resilient, but we will never, ever be the same.

Sarah Hidalgo-Cook MSCD, CCTM
General Manager
Southwest Area Regional Transit District
#uvaldestrong
 

Greene County High School -Hair Show

Are you ready to be WOWED and AMAZED?  Well if so come out and support the cosmetology department as they present Hair Show 2022.  This show will consist of three categories: candyland, the 90’s, and fantasy as well as other entertainment. This event will be held Friday, May 6th at 5p.m, at Greene County High School.  The admission is $10.  There will also be a silent auction for a barbeque grill constructed by the welding department under the instruction of Mr. Zachary Rutledge.
Bidding will start at $100.00 and the grill will be on display in the foyer of Greene County High School from May 4th – 6th for bidding.
The winner will be announced at the end of the hair show.
Thank you for your support.
Ms. Paula Calligan, Cosmetology Instructor
Greene County Career Center
14223 US Hwy 11 South
Eutaw, Al 35462

Superintendent presents spotlight on Career Center programs; highlights positive news in school system

At the Greene County Board of Education’s monthly meeting, held Monday, April 18, 2022, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, as part of his report, called on Ms. Teresa Atkins, Greene County Career Center Director, to present a comprehensive report on the various courses and programs available to students at the Career Center. Ms. Atkins noted that the most effective message of the Career Center is Preparation for the Real World. The overall goal is to prepare well-rounded students for college, careers or the military.
In her presentation, Ms. Atkins spotlighted the following offerings: Health Science, Cosmetology, Industrial Maintenance, Business, Career Preparedness, and JROTC. In addition to these, the Career Center offers Dual Enrollment courses in HVAC and Welding, through an arrangement with Wallace Community College Selma. She explained that the dual enrollment program gives students the opportunity “…to gain a jump start on the college experience.” This affords students the opportunity to receive the Associate Degree as well as High School Graduation certification.
The preparations at the Career Center emphasize real-world skills, mentoring, and internships. This includes a focus on preparing students to earn national credentials in various career areas.
Career Tech Student Organizations include active chapters in HOSA, Skills USA, FBLA and DECA.
Continuing his report, Dr. Jones highlighted more positive news in the school system. These are featured below.
The Technology Department has launched a new Mass Notification system with Blackboard. This system provides a more personalized way of communicating by sending messages to specific audiences. Stakeholders can receive messages simultaneously via phone calls, email, text messages and social media. The system also includes a feature to notify a parent once his/her child receives an unexcused absence in Power School.
The Special Education Department attended and participated in Noah J 2nd Annual Autism Awareness Festival, Saturday, April 16, 2022.
Eutaw Primary School completed ACAP testing on April 14, 2022. AIMSWEB-Scholars will be tested in various domains related to reading and math beginning April 25, 2022. May Day Celebration is tentatively set for the week of May 16, 2022. Scholars will be celebrated for their accomplishments during the 4th Nine Weeks.
Robert Brown Middle School (P.A.W.S.) Parents Always Willing To Support nominees will be highlighted in newspapers and will receive certificates and gifts. On April 18, Greene County High School scholars spoke to RBMS students to stress importance of the ACAP test. Test Taking Pep Rally Scranton Scholars and ACAP All-Stars will be recognized and GCH band will participate. RBMS P.T.A. meeting is scheduled for April 28.
Greene County High School Debate Team completed its final competition in Fairhope, AL. Jaila Brooks finishes her senior year with a total of four awards, three in first place. The GCHS Track Team is back. The boys competed at Central High School and performed well. The next track meet is April21, 2022. The Athletic Banquet was held April 14. Praise report from Program Manager from ACCESS: 30 students from GCH have a score of 70 or higher and is actively working in their ACCESS course. On April 15, Mu Alpha Theta (18 students ) traveled to Georgia to visit Great Wolf Lodge and Dave and Buster. Individual conferences have been scheduled with students to select courses for 2022-2023 school year. Eleventh grade students participated in ACT on March 29-31, 2022, with only two make-ups for 100% completion.
Dr. Jones also announced that the Alabama Legislature has passed a 4% pay raise for all employees, effective October 1, 2022. This is combined with a new salary schedule which will affect most school employees.
Superintendent Jones noted that the school system is coordinating efforts to assist the students whose families were affected by the recent tornado that hit the William M. Branch Heights community. He said buses will be re-routed to accommodate students who have been placed with their families in local hotels and other locations. Uniform dress requirements for those students have been suspended for the remainder of this school year. Other assistance that the school system can provide will be forthcoming.
The board approved the following personnel items recommended by the superintendent.
One-time supplemental payment for Janice Jeames Askew for additional duties Greene County High School.
One-time supplemental payment for Rosalyn Robinson for additional duties at Robert Brown Middle School.
The board approved the following administrative items:
* Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.
* Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms. Marquita Lennon, CSFO.
* Memorandum of Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Community Service Program of West Alabama, Inc. Head Start/Early Head Start.
* Resolution for Conveyance of Birdine Property to Town of Forkland.

The One Book- One Community Reading a Huge Success

The “Read Greene Read” held its first One Book- One Community reading on March 2, 2022. The guest artists were local author Jocelyn Steel and illustrator Mynecia Steele. Jocelyn Steele read and discussed her book “The Square Nose Pig.” The event was held via Zoom. Over 150 individuals registered for the event.

The event was sponsored by The Greene County Children’s Policy Council, The Greene County School System and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Greene County Cultured Pearls Interest Group. According to Judge Lillie Jones-Osborne the next reading will take place in May 2022 and we are inviting all of Greene Countian to join the “Read Greene Read” campaign. Pictured below are students from the Branch Heights After School Program participating in the event.

Newswire: Autherine Lucy Foster, first Black student
to attend the University of Alabama, dies at 92

Autherine Lucy Foster in wheelchair at recent ribbon cutting at naming of building at UA for her and Autherine Lucy in 1952


By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Her desire for a second undergraduate degree was cut short after just three days when a mob of racists assaulted her with food, rocks, and other items when she attempted to enter the University of Alabama.

Autherine Lucy Foster, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English from historically Black Miles College in 1952, and whose legal battle with the University of Alabama concluded two years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, has died at 92.

A critical, but sometimes overlooked figure in the civil rights movement, Foster’s case became the first to challenge the Brown ruling that allowed federal judges to implement the historic decision.

In 1992, Foster recalled her experience in a New York Times interview. “It felt somewhat like you were not really a human being. But had it not been for some at the university, my life might not have been spared at all,” Foster said.

“I did expect to find isolation. I thought I could survive that. But I did not expect it to go as far as it did. There were students behind me saying, ‘Let’s kill her! Let’s kill her!’”

Foster visited Tuscaloosa a week before her death, cutting the ribbon on the newly named College of Education building, where she took refuge from the racist mob.
Previously known as Bibb Graves Hall, the university’s building adopted a new name called Autherine Lucy Hall.

“My staff was proud to celebrate the courage and sacrifice of Dr. Autherine Lucy Foster by presenting her with a Congressional Record,” Alabama Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell stated.
“The naming of the University of Alabama’s Autherine Lucy Hall will stand as a powerful reminder of her sacrifice in the name of justice and equity for all.”

Foster “was the embodiment of courage,” said Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, who chairs the organization. “As the first Black student to attend the University of Alabama, her trailblazing determination paved the way for a more inclusive and equitable higher education system in Alabama. Her life was a testament to the power of compassion and grace in the face of unyielding adversity. We are all made better by her example.”

Many others tweeted and offered statements of condolences. Foster’s family asked for privacy, but they did release a statement about the trailblazer.

“She was known, honored, and respected around the world after she broke the color barrier at the University of Alabama,” her daughter Chrystal Foster said in a statement. “She passed away at home, surrounded by family. We are deeply saddened, yet we realize she left a proud legacy.”

School Superintendent Jones holds community meeting to hear voices of parents; bridging the gap at Robert Brown Middle School

Greene County Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones held a special community meeting, Let’s Talk About It, Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at Robert Brown Middle School in an effort to offer a venue for parents, guardians and other interested residents to voice their concerns, opinions and suggestions relative to the culture of that particular school. Approximately, 60 individuals attended the meeting, along with RBMS staff, central office staff and school board members.
Principal Shawnta Owens opened the meeting with a power point presentation of the various programs offered at Robert Brown to enhance the academic achievement of students. Principal Owens shared her vision of B19—an innovative approach of increasing test scores and achievement for the school.
In his opening remarks, Superintendent Jones welcomed the parents and other attendees and stated that the purpose of this meeting was to listen and hear the concerns, issues and suggestions of those present. Dr. Jones stated that this is important because all the parties, including parents, his office and school administrators have the best interest of the scholars at heart. “ We want what is best for the students and we want to give our students our best,” he said.
To facilitate the questioning by parents, the staff issued cards for the attendees to write their questions and concerns. The superintendent and principal then proceeded to address the issues raised.
A lead question asked was how can we bridge the gap between the school and parents/community. Dr. Jone’s initial comment indicated this was a first step toward that goal and that the administration needed to listen more, be more attentive to the concerns and try in every way allowed to address the concerns, hopefully rendering satisfactory results.
The most prominent issued raised concerned bullying at the school. Many parents voiced concerns that their children were afraid to attend school because they did not feel safe there. They stated that there were frequent fights at the school and they were not satisfied with how these were handled by the school administrators. Some parents indicated that they tried to follow protocol, but did not receive satisfactory results.
Other prominent concerns related to disrespect of some teachers and staff toward students and parents. Incidents of a teacher cursing students or a teacher belittling a student were also raised. One parent noted that the “elephant in the room” related to the RBM office staff. Some parents’ expressions were as follows: “Our phone calls are disregarded, attempts to get appointments with staff or teachers are disregarded, and we are spoken to disrespectfully – talked down to as though we are less than they are.” One parents commented that confidentiality is not observed by staff at RBMS.
Some specific issued from parents related to a child not allowed in the school because he/she was tardy, or did not have a mask on.
At least two parents noted that they had transferred to Greene County schools this year (RBM in particular) only to witness their children’s grades plummeting from the achievement levels they had maintained in previous school systems. They needed an explanation for this.
One parent noted that she could not follow her child’s school assignments on the tablet he brought home, therefore she could not determine if her child was actually doing the required work. The superintendent responded that if the child goes to the after school program he will get assistance in completing his homework assignments and the parent can attend as well to observe this and probably become more acquainted with online process.
All of the concerns were acknowledged and noted. Responses included a commitment by Superintendent Jones that all these concerns would be followed up; some changes were already in process and outcomes would become known soon. “ I cannot discuss or disclose procedures relative to personnel, but you will see those changes, especially regarding giving and receiving respect in the school,” he said.
Jones acknowledged that new approaches were needed to confront bullying in the school. “We may need to explore outside professional assistance to engage students in sessions helping them to conceive of the school as a safe place to share their feelings and fears, and further instruct staff in handling incidents of bullying.
Dr. Charlayne Riley, Federal Programs Coordinator, gave a detailed explanation of the components of the after school program, noting that the service is free and snacks and transportation are provided to students. Local teachers as well as tutors from Stillman College are part of the tutorial staff.
Other general ideas offered to help students feel that they are important in the school could include establishing student organizations that promote their leadership skills; assigning students tasks such as assisting with the morning announcements at the school and student advisory committees to receive and pass along students’ concerns and suggestions for improvement.
Dr. Jones noted he will consider all these ideas and announced that such community meetings will be scheduled on a regular basis as one means of bridging the gap between parents and school.

Greene County Tigers win the 2A Area 6 Championship and Sub-Regional

By: Moses Tyree III


Greene County High Varsity Basketball Team competed in the 2A Area 6 Championship against the Francis Marion Rams on February 10, 2022. The Tigers have been defeated by the Rams twice before inthe Area Championship. The Tigers defeated the Rams with the final score being 61 – 59.
The Tigers’ lead scorer of the game was Allen Pelt with 13 points. The game was close all four quarters, but that didn’t stop the Tigers from giving it their all. In the final moments of the game with only 11.0 seconds remaining in the game, the Tigers very own Akeem Edmonds brings the ball down the court and hands it off to Allen Pelt; Pelt then finds Eddie Robinson in the paint and gives it to him to make the final basket to win the game.
Finally, during the trophy presentation of the night, several players were named Area Basketball All-Tournament. The Tigers, who are led by Coach Rodney Wesley, applauded his team by saying the whole team would receive the MVP award. The Tigers would move on to Host the Sub-Regional Tournament at Home. Greene County Tigers faced Calhoun Tigers on February 15, 2022.
On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, The Tigers played against Calhoun Tigers at The Tigers Den. The Preparation for the game was outstanding; the tigers had a Tiger walk surrounded by cheerleaders, Marching Band, Faculty, Staff, and Student body. Later that evening, It was all action. The Tigers kept the lead all four quarters and finished the game 54-30. The Tigers would now move on to play in the game of the regional semifinal on Friday, February 18, 2022, against Clarke County Tigers at 1:30 pm at the Montgomery Multiplex.

Newswire: Legendary actor, Sidney Poitier, 94, first African-American to win ‘Best Actor Oscar’ has died

Sidney Poitier

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Legendary actor Sidney Poitier, who broke barriers and stood for justice and Black lives during the most tumultuous times of the civil rights movement, has died.
Poitier, whose iconic 71-year career, included starring roles in “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “Uptown Saturday Night,” was 94. His cause of death has yet to be confirmed.
In an exclusive phone call with the Black Press of America, Bill Cosby said he will miss his long-time friend and co-star. “He was honored by AFI. And, along with many stars of the stage, screen, politics and higher education who came out to speak, I brought with me the paperback of his autobiography and I said of all groundbreaking movies that Sidney starred in this book is the real story of this man and his journey,” Cosby remarked. “I am honored to have been close enough to him and work and work on serious matters.
According to PBS, Poitier moved to New York City at age 16 after living in the Bahamas for several years with his family. In the Big Apple, he found work as a janitor at the American Negro Theater in exchange for acting lessons. From there, he took up acting roles in plays for the next several years until his film debut in the racially charged, “No Way Out.”

Race and social justice would become central themes in much of his work throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s.
A Broadway play focused on the life of the Bahamian born star, who earned his first Academy Award nomination in 1959 for his work in “The Defiant Ones,” is in the works.
As noted in the New York Post, the nomination was significant to America as he was the first African American to be nominated for Best Actor. That role also earned him a Golden Globe win and a BAFTA Award.
Poitier broke even more barriers in 1963 with his hit film “Lilies of the Field.” The following year, Poitier became the first African American to ever win the Best Actor at the Academy Awards.
His career continued to climb for several more years. In 1967 he starred in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” an interracial romance comedy that ruffled feathers in America. Then came other memorable films, “They Call Me Mister Tibbs,” the sequel to the controversial blockbuster “In the Heat of the Night,” and “Uptown Saturday Night” opposite Cosby.
He released several more works; “The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (2007)” “Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter (2008).”
“As I entered this world, I would leave behind the nurturing of my family and my home, but in another sense, I would take their protection with me,” he said in “Measure of a Man.” “The lessons I had learned, the feelings of groundedness and belonging that have been woven into my character there, would be my companions on the journey.”

 

Newswire: More than 800 faith leaders demand Biden, Senate pass Voting Rights Bill

Martin Luther King III gives remarks during the NNPA’s Legacy Awards Gala at the National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Md. on June 23, 2017. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

Rev. Martin Luther King III

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent


Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, and more than 800 faith leaders from various religions are demanding that President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats immediately push through voting rights legislation.

“We cannot be clearer: you must act now to protect every American’s freedom to vote without interference and with confidence that their ballot will be counted and honored,” the faith leaders wrote in the letter released on Thursday, December 23, 2021.

“Passing comprehensive voting rights legislation must be the number-one priority of the administration and Congress,” they wrote.

In addition to Sharpton and King, those signing the letter included a mix of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith leaders. Rev. Aaron Frank of Horseheads, New York, Rabbi Abby Cohen of Portland, Oregon, Rabbi Abby Michaleski of the Beth Israel Congregation, Rev. Abhi Janamanchi of Bethesda, Maryland, Rabbi Abram Goodstein of the Congregation Beth Sholom, and Rev. Adam Russell Taylor.

King and his wife, Arndrea Waters King, organized the leaders and wrote the letter. The African American Christian Clergy Coalition joined them, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action and Faith in Public Life, and others joined.

The Congressional Black Caucus has pushed legislation, including two voting rights bills blocked by the GOP.

“This year, American democracy faced extraordinary challenges, from the violent insurrection on the U.S. Capitol to over 30 anti-voting bills pushed through state legislatures, intentionally designed to silence Black, Brown, Indigenous, immigrant, low-income, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and elderly and young voters,” the faith leaders wrote.

“During this season of giving and community, we are painfully aware that the promise of American democracy is thwarted by systemic racism and a system that works for the few at the expense of the public good.”

The letter continued: “It will continue on this path without prompt, substantive federal action. During the Civil Rights era, prominent leaders were driven by their faith to fight for equality. This is why we continue the push for voting rights today – our faith teaches us that each one of us deserves dignity and freedom.

“We cannot be clearer: you must act now to protect every American’s freedom to vote without interference and with confidence that their ballot will be counted and honored. Passing comprehensive voting rights legislation must be the number-one priority of the administration and Congress.

“Nothing – including the filibuster – should stand in the way of passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which have already passed the House and await Senate action and leadership.

“The communities we represent will continue to sound the alarm until these bills are passed. While we come from different faiths, we are united by our commitment to act in solidarity with the most vulnerable among us.

“On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, we will accompany Martin Luther King III, Arndrea King, Yolanda Renee King, and voting rights advocates across the country to honor Dr. King’s legacy by calling for Congress and the President to restore and expand access to the ballot for all voters. It’s time to stop lamenting the state of our democracy and take action to address it.

“As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so valiantly said in his Give Us The Ballot address, “the denial of this sacred right [to vote] is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition.”

“That is why this Martin Luther King Day, we will not accept empty promises. Congress must serve the nation and future generations by immediately passing voting rights legislation.”

Newswire: College loan debt hits a Black students at HBCUs harder 87% favor cancellation; 90% for wealth inequity fix

NC A &T University and students

by Herbert L. White, Charlotte Post


Nearly 9 in 10 Black students attending historically Black colleges and universities favor debt cancellation, according to a study conducted by education and lending advocacy groups. 

Eighty-seven percent of respondents strongly support debt cancellation while more than 90% of Black borrowers support policies that address institutional funding disparities and family wealth gaps that leave Black HBCU graduates with higher student loan debt than their white peers, according to the survey and focus groups conducted by UNCF, the Durham-based Center for Responsible Lending and UNC Center for Community Capital.

A panel of stakeholders that included U.S. Rep. Alma Adams of Charlotte; NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson; federal student aid senior advisor Ashley Harrington and Robert Stephens, policy director at Voices for Progress discussed findings of the study and research on a virtual forum. 

“The history of HBCUs is one of triumph over adversity. Our institutions have had to overcome historic underfunding compared to (predominantly white institutions), and they’ve endured the legacy of Jim Crow,” said Adams, a Democrat who is founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus. “Unfortunately, the student loan debt crisis also plays an outsized role in the lives of HBCU students, many of whom are the first in their family to fill out the FAFSA form. Families of color are more likely to borrow and to borrow more and in higher amounts to finance their education. While the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis impacts 44 million families nationwide, the burden falls heavily on Black students. That is why I support canceling burdensome debt for our students. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also good public policy.” 

The study, which was funded by Lumina Foundation, compared the financial experiences of current and former Black HBCU students with their Black peers at PWIs, as well as with their white peers.

Among the survey’s findings:

• Black colleges extended themselves to supporting their students during COVID-19. Thirty-one percent of Black students at HBCUs received emergency aid from school, compared to about 21% of Black students at PWIs and 18% of white students.

• Black borrowers receive and provide financial assistance from or to their families. Research found that HBCU students typically graduate with substantially higher debt than their peers at non-HBCUs, which suggests they share financial resources with their families during college, by both receiving financial support and by giving it, at times.

• Food insecurity is an issue on college campuses. Student borrowers report skipping meals because there wasn’t enough money for food, including 44% of Black students at HBCUs and 29% at PWIs.

• Black women receive less financial support from family during their college matriculation compared to Black men and tend to struggle more to repay debt.

• Black respondents report overwhelming support for $50,000 across-the-board student loan forgiveness. Eighty-five percent of Black borrowers indicated strong support for student loan cancellation and more than nine out of 10 respondents favor the elimination of interest payments for all student loans. They also back increasing state funding for HBCUs, increasing the amount of Pell Grant, and cancellation of debt for people who were defrauded by their schools.
“There is a large gap between how black students experience student debt vs. how the rest of the world understands student borrowers and their ability to get to repayment status,” said Nadrea Njoku, interim director at UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute. “Black students often need to use borrowed funds to help their families — not to just complete their educations as intended.  “This delays their ability to not only complete their degrees, but it creates a vicious cycle they may not escape from needing to work and help their families while at the same time needing to finish an education that would ultimately benefit them and their families.”

Joint policy recommendations by UNCF and CRL include wiping out student debt across the board; increasing federal funding for HBCUs; increasing the amount of the Pell Grant; improving income-driven repayment programs; reduce interest, eliminate interest capitalization and cancel origination fees on federal student loans.

“The recommendations made by the students included in this study help move the focus of college financing from getting a college education with an unwarranted lifetime financial burden that cripples students and their families to a place where students receive the freedoms and social mobility they were seeking from the start,” Njoku said. “These students come from underserved backgrounds and need to be at the forefront of the line to cancel the burdensome debt.”