Bomb threats reported at five Miss. HBCUs as Black History Month begins

Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 9:51 AM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Before students and staff arrived at campuses this morning, five HBCUs in Mississippi received a code black — a bomb threat.

Many schools began reporting the threats Tuesday morning on their social media channels.

Dr. Thomas Calhoun with Mississippi Valley State University says his campus got the notice at 4 a.m.

“And so as soon as we got the call, it went to our chief of police who then notified the president and me and another vice president, and subsequently, the emergency management team, all of whom responded very quickly.”

Dr. Calhoun says students living on campus were immediately evacuated to safe areas, and staff was informed not to come to campus until it was deemed secure.

Police and K-9 units completed careful searches and did not find any bombs or potential threats at MVSU or any of the other campuses.

“We have every expectation to be back to business as usual tomorrow.”

These threats come on the first day of Black History Month — something Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, believes is no coincidence.

“The spate of bomb threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in recent days is incredibly disturbing and disheartening. It is not lost on me that these threats are targeting African American educational institutions at a time when we are observing Black History Month. Moreover, this rash of threats against HBCUs put further strain on campuses and communities that were already under great stress, as they try to operate safely during the pandemic,” he said.

Thompson said the threats deserve a full investigation.

”I have engaged with the FBI and DHS about these threats to HBCUs and am committed to working with HBCU leaders to get them the answers they deserve,” he added.

However, these educational institutions aren’t letting the threats stop their goals. Tougaloo College President Dr. Carmen Walters says these “acts of terrorism” will “not deterred our commitment to educating today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders.”

Mississippi Valley State University had a similar response.

“But we have no intention whatsoever, to cower, and to yield and to somehow become devalued as if the fact that somebody is disturbed enough to try to put a threat on HBCUs that we would think somehow that devalues our importance.”

Governor Tate Reeves responded to the bomb threats in a tweet saying that the state will do everything it can to investigate these threats and keep Mississippians safe.

The news comes as more than a dozen historically Black universities in other states and the District of Columbia responded to bomb threats recently, many of them locking down their campuses for a time.

Officials reported threats Monday at Albany State University in Georgia; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Bowie State University in Maryland; Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana; Bethune-Cookman University in Florida; and Delaware State University. All are historically Black institutions.

The following Mississippi schools have issued alerts about the threats:

  • Jackson State University
  • Alcorn State University
  • Tougaloo College

Tougaloo Communications Director, Ashley McLaughlin says Tougaloo College received a bomb threat Tuesday morning, but nothing was found by police during a campus search. As a result, students will attend classes virtually.

  • Mississippi Valley State University
  • Rust College

“All faculty and staff within the Division of Academic Affairs are asked to shelter in place at home out of an abundance of caution,” Rolundus R. Rice, Vice President of Academic Affairs said in a letter to faculty and staff. “Please transition from face-to-face instruction to remote learning until we recruit additional information.”

Out of an abundance of caution, Hinds Community College also decided to close four campuses. They issued a statement about their decision.

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