Tuskegee’s Woes On Display At Football Game
ATLANTA, GEORGIA, Cascade Press,Tuskegee’s administrative woes were on display at a Saturday night football game against Clark-Atlanta University. A Tuskegee graduate, Carl Trimble, clad in psychedelic pants and a white polo shirt hoisted a banner outside the main gate of Panther Stadium on the historic CAU campus, as fans of both schools streamed by on their way to witness Tuskegee defeat Clark-Atlanta University 36-13.
Tuskegee’s football program has won more collegiate football games than any other Historical Black College or University.
Trimble’s sign read “Tuskegee on Academic Warning…. “Probation?”
Trimble, an Atlanta architect, said he wanted to raise awareness that Tuskegee’s accreditation could be in jeopardy because of a warning notice issued to the university by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Last year the university was placed on warning status by SACS. When SACS reviewed Tuskegee’s status this year, Tuskegee failed to satisfy SACS requirements for removal from this status. The university was continued on warning notice for an additional year.
“Are you aware of this?” Trimble, pointing to the lettering on the sign, asked a group of young women wearing Tuskegee paraphernalia. The group paused long enough to shake their heads, “no,” in puzzled bewilderment.
“Do you know what it means, Trimble inquired?”
“No,” the group mumbled, hurrying past Trimble holding his sign.
Undaunted, Trimble yelled to a man with salt and pepper hair wearing the legendary insignia of Tuskegee University, “Do you know about this?”
“Yes,” he said,continuing his saunter toward the entrance gate of the stadium.
“Do you even care, Trimble asked?”
“Yes, I care,” the man said, not breaking his stride.
“You don’t care,” Trimble said.
The man stopped to challenge Trimble’s assertion. By that time, Trimble had focused on other Tuskegee alumni; so the man said to a reporter, “Tell him, I do care, but I don’t like what he is doing.”
“Why,” the reporter asked?
“It’s my choice,” the man said, rushing inside to cheer the Golden Tigers.
Inside the stadium, a Baby Boomer wearing a hat with Tuskegee University embroidered on it, sat down next to classmates and showed them a flyer he had received at the entrance gate.
“Man, they’re out there with a big stack of these flyers, passing them out,” he said to his classmates.
The flyer had a picture of the university’s first principle, Booker T. Washington. The headline asked: “Tuskegee Alumni Did you know? Tuskegee University Needs Us! …Now!”
A discussion ensued. His friends conceded they were aware that the university was under a SACS Warning Notice.
“I don’t think they should be out there passing these things out,” the man said to his friends.
“But something has to be done about this,” one of his classmates replied.
The group seemed to agree that something should be done to redirect the “trajectory” of Tuskegee University. They mentioned firing President Brian Johnson, getting rid of the Board of Trustees and they discussed the fact that all HBCUs need money and are under the gun to prove that they are still relevant.
Their last point was poignantly on display during the halftime show. CAU has temporarily disbanded its marching band due to a financial pinch. The Stockbridge High School Marching Band performed in their stead.
Tuskegee’s administrative problems have crept into the pre-game discussions held by alumni at its football games.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.