Under the Dome

U.S. Reps. Alma Adams and Bradley Byrne start a congressional caucus to help historically black colleges

U.S. Reps. Alma Adams, a North Carolina Democrat, and Bradley Byrne, an Alabama Republican, are starting the first bipartisan Congressional Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus.

“As a former 40-year professor and administrator at an HBCU and as an alumnus of an HBCU, I know the impact that these schools have on students, particularly students from the most under-served communities,” Adams said in a press release on Tuesday as she announced the new caucus.

“This bipartisan HBCU Caucus is bringing together champions for HBCUs, so that we can make an even bigger impact – to ensure their needs are heard in every aspect of policy making and across party lines. I will continue to learn from our HBCUs and our students and keep those discussions with me as we work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act and fight for much needed Pell grant funding,” she said.

Adams earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees at North Carolina A&T State University, an HBCU. She has a Ph.D. in art education and multicultural education from Ohio State University and taught at Bennett College in Greensboro, where she lives.

Byrne is a former chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. Both he and Adams are members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and its Subcommittee on Higher Education.

Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, the minority education organization, said in a statement that the new caucus was needed. UNCF directly supports 37 private HBCUs.

“Confronted with declining levels of federal support and regulatory threats, we welcome these congressional champions who will help us fight for needed federal investments in HBCUs and in the thousands of first-generation, low-income, students of color that we serve," Lomax said.

The caucus has 37 members, including North Carolina’s Republican Reps. Mark Walker of Greensboro, Richard Hudson of Concord and Walter Jones of Farmville, and Democratic Reps. G.K. Butterfield of Wilson and David Price of Chapel Hill, in addition to Adams.