More than a dozen historically Black colleges and universities have faced bomb threats this week as Black History Month begins.
“Our history has been one where we have endured all kinds of challenges and disruptions, but we have always emerged stronger,” said David Wilson, president of Morgan State University in Baltimore, according to USA Today.
The FBI is investigating the situation and identified six people, all of whom are juveniles, as persons of interest, according to NBC Washington.
Schools that received bomb threats as of Wednesday include: Coppin State University, Alcorn State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Morgan State University, Jackson State University, Tougaloo College, Kentucky State University, Fort Valley State University, Howard University, Spelman College, Xavier University, University of the District of Columbia, Edward Waters University, Rust College.
There are 107 HBCUs across the country.
“The threats are despicable,” Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College in Atlanta, said in an email to students and staff on Tuesday. “They are designed to make us feel fearful and vulnerable.”
All the threats began this week, including against Howard University on Monday, before the official start of Black History Month. It was the third bomb threat Howard has received so far this year.
The campuses across the county went on lockdown status or canceled classes in response to the threats, and many of the schools issued “all clear” messages to their communities by Tuesday afternoon.
“The FBI is aware of the series of bomb threats around the country and we are working with our law enforcement partners to address any potential threats,” the FBI said in a statement Tuesday. “As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately.”
The onslaught of threats have left students and parents worried about their well-being, saying they are “feeling targeted.”
“It doesn’t seem like a prank, and myself along with other peers are feeling targeted,” Anieya Green, a 19-year-old student at Xavier University, told the New York Times.
“It feels like an assault. It feels like someone has come in and trespassed against a very sacred space,” HBCU parent Dana Perry told Fox 13.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the threats on Tuesday, calling them “disturbing.”
“It is scary, it is horrifying, it is terrible that these students, these faculty, these institutions are feeling under threat,” she said.
Psaki added that the administration wants students and leaders of the colleges to know “that we are standing with them as they face these threats.”