Nearly 20 years ago, I submitted an article (and it was published) titled “Why Isn’t State Putting It Right?” The subject matter was the neglected treatment of Southern University here in our state. I wanted to name my article “SU: Struggle University.” The editor adamantly told me NO … it was up to him to put a title on editorials!

Well, the title he gave was appropriate, but the question put forth remains unanswered. Southern University’s budget has been severely reduced; not just currently, but over a period of years. True, there have been some renovations and improvements, but nothing on a scale befitting the largest HBCU in the nation! Southern University, which is really a national treasure, and the historical significance of this great institution should be nurtured, beloved, upheld as an example of the growth, the acceptance of diversity and overall maturation of the residents in our state, whose track record shows that it was not supportive of advancements of “persons of color”; quite the contrary.

Does anyone remember that the state of Louisiana was found guilty of not properly funding SU (and Grambling State University in north Louisiana)? There was a federally mandated consent decree whose aim was to promote (racial) integration in higher education. It expired about 20 years ago with the conclusion that it did not achieve its goal. The fact that proper funding was not provided apparently was not of importance. (As I stated in my 1989 article, please reread the previous sentence with sarcasm!)

Instead, as alluded to earlier when citing drastic budget cuts, SU continues to struggle! Despite much publicized reports of any internal strife of the administration, crime and violence (anywhere near the campus), or any other negative aspect (for which the university is put under a microscope), SU is continuing to educate and produce great contributors to this country. Louisiana should be proud of the fact that so many SU graduates have excelled in the professions of law, education, military science, sports, etc. (and it’s true these SU graduates went elsewhere in the nation where they could become more successful … and accepted).

Louisiana should want to preserve and at the same time improve upon the university’s physical setting, its existing programs and its future. The fact that it DOES NOT reminds me of the concept of “gentrification” whereby a property is allowed to become unproductive or “rundown” and then “developers” swoop in and completely make it over! That shouldn’t happen with Southern University.

Therefore, we should all (legislators, politicians, philanthropists and alumni [translation: taxpayers]), effectuate a change in how our state takes care of its treasures. Let’s put it right.

Carla Lewis

retired state employee

Baton Rouge