TRNN Executive Producer Eddie Conway reports on the closing of Sojourner-Douglass College amid allegations of financial mismanagement


Story Transcript

EDDIE CONWAY, PRODUCER, TRNN: I’m Eddie Conway from the Real News Network in Baltimore. It would be the last time students at Sojourner-Douglass would gather to say goodbye. A bittersweet moment for the final graduating class from this historic institute that has provided a place for low-income city residents to receive higher education. That’s because amidst allegations of financial mismanagement and the recent loss of its accreditation, Sojourner-Douglass College in Baltimore, a higher education institute founded in 1972, is shutting down. Former Black Panther and journalist Paul Coates who served as the graduation’s commencement speaker received the institution’s last honorary Ph.D. SPEAKER: Mr. President, the Board of Directors of Sojourner-Douglass college authorizes you to confer the Doctor of Humane Letters upon Mr. Paul Coates. CONWAY: Since its founding Sojourner-Douglass was the site of community organizing, community activism, with a curriculum focused around Afrocentric studies. SPEAKER: We came out of a brave effort of Antioch College to initiate community control of institutions of higher learning across this country. And that desire and a desire of local community activists here in Baltimore came together and gave birth to this school. CONWAY: Plans to reorganize the college into Stratford University and transfer programs between Sojourner-Douglass and two other institutions, including Morgan State University, fell through. Recently Sojourner-Douglass College filed a lawsuit against the Middle State Commission of Higher Education alleging discrimination from the organization in withdrawing its accreditation. Sojourner is a predominantly black college. Why did the college lose their accreditation in the first place. Persistent financial problems. The school’s finances are somewhat opaque. They don’t cover [supported] finance reports. Last year the IRS filed a more than $5 million tax lien against the institution. Closing the college is a blow for the predominantly black community it serves, as educational institutions like it continue to close around the country. For the Real News Network, I’m Eddie Conway. SPEAKER: Thank you. Gracias. Merci. Shukran.

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Eddie Conway

Executive Producer

Eddie Conway is an Executive Producer of The Real News Network. He is the host of the TRNN show Rattling the Bars. He is Chairman of the Board of Ida B's Restaurant, and the author of two books: Marshall Law: The Life & Times of a Baltimore Black Panther and The Greatest Threat: The Black Panther Party and COINTELPRO. A former member of the Black Panther Party, Eddie Conway is an internationally known political prisoner for over 43 years, a long time prisoners' rights organizer in Maryland, the co-founder of the Friend of a Friend mentoring program, and the President of Tubman House Inc. of Baltimore. He is a national and international speaker and has several degrees.