A group of students and alumni of Maryland’s historically Black colleges argue that the state continues to operate an essentially segregated higher education system.

According to an article in Black Voices:

A lawsuit filed more than five years ago seeking… to remedy what it contends are disparities between Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities and its traditionally White institutions is nearing trial in Baltimore.

The lawsuit, filed in October 2006 by a group of students and alumni of historically Black colleges known as the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education Inc., contends that Maryland has operated a higher education system of “de jure segregation” – racial segregation imposed by law – in violation of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and of Title VI of the U. S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The lawsuit contends that the state’s historically black colleges (Bowie State University, the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Coppin State University, and Morgan State University) are in worse condition and have fewer programs than the state’s historically white schools, including the University of Maryland-College Park, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and Towson University.

The lawsuit brought seeks about $2.1 billion to make the state’s black schools “comparable and competitive.”

Maryland, however, says that black students aren’t forced to attend lower quality schools. As recently as 2009 some 59 percent of black students attending public colleges in Maryland went to historically white institutions; students of any race have the option to attend any of the state’s public colleges. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer