For immediate release: September 8, 2008
Media Contact: Christopher Falkenhagen
Communications: (410) 260-4511
Higher Education Secretary to honor HBCU week at national
(Annapolis, MD) September 8, 2008 – Higher Education
Secretary James E. Lyons, Sr., is celebrating Historically
Black Colleges and Universities Week by attending the 2008
National HBCU Week Conference in Washington, D.C., Monday
and Tuesday. He will present a proclamation commemorating
the event from Governor Martin O’Malley.
Maryland’s four outstanding HBCUs include Bowie State
University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University
and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
Secretary Lyons was President of Bowie State from 1983-1992
as well as another HBCU -- Jackson State University in
Mississippi – from 1992-1999.
“Having been a president at both Bowie and Jackson State
University, I realize the unique opportunities Historically
Black Colleges and Universities have provided millions of
underserved students,” Secretary Lyons said. “There is great
pride among the students who attend and flourish at these
institutions. Many of America’s greatest citizens are
products of HBCUs.”
Secretary Lyons stressed that while African-American
enrollment is the largest at HBCUs, they are open to
students of all races, nationalities and gender.
He praised the early work of notable civil rights and higher
education advocates such as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B.
DuBois saying they paved the way for the success of HBCUs.
Later, Thurgood Marshall fought successfully in front of the
Supreme Court to overturn the separate but equal policy in
education at all levels in the landmark Brown vs. Board of
Education case. Chief Justice Earl Warren worked behind the
scenes to rally his fellow jurists to issue a unanimous
decision in that case.
“The road to survival and success of HBCUs was never easy
and the fight continues today,” Secretary Lyons said. “But
blacks and whites alike who advocated and still do for these
colleges and universities are a great inspiration and should
be commended for their efforts to ensure that the HBCUs
celebrated this week continue to flourish and produce
The Maryland Higher Education Commission is a 12-member
coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide
policies for Maryland public and independent colleges and
universities and private career schools. It serves as an
advocate for more than 326,000 college students in Maryland,
for the State and its needs, and for business and industry