ALBANY — There are some who say Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard and others are needlessly keeping the conversation going about state Sen. Lester Jackson’s plan to push legislation (Senate Bill 278) that would separate Georgia’s three public historically black colleges and universities from the University System of Georgia.

That hasn’t stopped Howard.

“We have to remain steadfast,” Howard said as he and Albany State University adjunct professor H. Tia Juana Malone announced the third of a series of “We Love Our HBCU” meetings Tuesday at the Albany Law Enforcement Center at 201 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. “We have to keep our eyes focused; we can’t afford to sit back and say, ‘It probably won’t happen.’

“It’s imperative that we keep the students at these three institutions (Albany State, Fort Valley State and Savannah State universities) involved. They are our future leaders, and it is up to them to make sure that we preserve the tradition of our HBCUs.”

Howard said he had a face-to-face conversation with Jackson, and despite the outcry over the plan that would place the state’s three public HBCUs under the guidance of a board primarily appointed by the state’s governor, the Savannah senator indicated he planned to bring his proposed bill up in an Urban Affairs Subcommittee in the 2020 Legislative Session.

“I’ll be honest with you; that scares me,” Howard said.

Malone said that Jackson is not the author of the proposed legislation, pointing instead to a “deliberate effort to cordon off power and access” of African Americans.

“There is a national agenda to tamp down the pride of any accomplishment claimed by African Americans,” she said. “Lester Jackson did not write this legislation. It came from a template that’s been introduced in Mississippi, Ohio, Alabama and Maryland.

“That’s one of the things that happens when black people start garnering pride; there is an effort to see that it gets tiered as second-class. If the HBCUs come out from under the Board of Regents — are separated — there’s that old Jim Crow ‘separate but equal’ fallacy to deal with.”

Asked who or what group might be behind such a national movement, Malone did not say.

“It’s not black folk,” she said. “I can’t say who it is, but it is not black people.”

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m.

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