Florida A&M, the country’s largest historically black university, has been around for more than a century. For most of that time, it was a legitimate victim of legal segregation. It was a product of rules that were different — and discriminatory. It soldiered on with its charge to provide an opportunity for more blacks to have access to higher education.
However, the time has long since passed that FAMU should be playing by different rules. Any more than it should be playing the race card of past injustices and preying on white institutional guilt.
For too long — notably under the 16-year tenure of former president Frederick Humphries — it has gotten by with phantom oversight of accounting and bookkeeping practices. It has skated on accountability. Education leaders — often cowed by Humphries –routinely excused FAMU its shortcomings: allowing for lower admissions requirements and permitting a long-simmering financial mess.
Lawmakers are now demanding answers and solutions — and rules compliance. “We were not held, in my opinion, to the same kind of rigorous standards as the other (state) universities,” FAMU trustees chairman James Corbin told the Associated Press.
The condescending attitude that less should be expected of FAMU is finally being seen for what it is: a more insidious form of racism. After 117 years, a new era at FAMU now beckons.