Fort Valley State, Spelman among HBCUs receiving bomb threats

Spelman College, near downtown Atlanta, received a threat before dawn Tuesday. No device was found, a spokeswoman said. (John Spink / AJC)

Credit: John Spink

Credit: John Spink

Spelman College, near downtown Atlanta, received a threat before dawn Tuesday. No device was found, a spokeswoman said. (John Spink / AJC)

Two historically Black colleges in Georgia received bomb threats Tuesday morning, a disturbing trend that many HBCUs across the country have been threatened with in recent weeks.

Fort Valley State University and Spelman College were among several HBCUs nationwide that received threats, according to published reports.

The FBI said in a statement that it’s working with other law enforcement agencies to address any potential threats.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that Homeland Security officials are providing updates to President Biden and senior staff.

“It is scary. It is terrifying. It is terrible that these students, these faculty, these institutions are feeling under threat,” she said, stressing there’s been no assessment about the threats.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Morehouse College graduate, has reached out to federal law enforcement agencies, his office said, “to prioritize the investigation and gain more information on potential dangers facing HBCUs in Georgia and across the country.”

Fort Valley State University was on lockdown for several hours. The university said in a message posted on its social media sites early Tuesday that residential students should remain in their dorms and non-residential students and staff should not report to campus. Campus police, local and state law enforcement agencies searched all campus facilities and issued an all-clear around 1:30 p.m.

Fort Valley State University, located about 30 miles south of Macon, is one of three public HBCUs in Georgia. The university, which has about 2,800 students.

Spelman College, near downtown Atlanta, received a telephoned threat at 3 a.m. Tuesday that a device would explode shortly after noon, officials said. No device was found, a spokeswoman said. Spelman was among several HBCUs to receive a bomb threat several weeks ago. Spelman has more than 2,200 students.

“Reports of nationwide bomb threats against several HBCU campuses this week are appalling and raise serious concerns about racially targeted hate-based violence in our communities,” said Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell. “We have contacted local and federal officials to request reinforcements of campus security and request that a federal investigation of these threats be undertaken immediately.”

The Atlanta University Center Consortium, a partnership of the city’s HBCUs, said it is working with public safety teams on each campus to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.

At least six HBCUs, including Albany State University, also received bomb threats Monday. Albany State closed its campuses for several hours as police investigated the threat before reopening.

The congressional HBCU caucus released a statement Monday saying it’s disturbed by the threats.

“We are deeply disturbed by a second round of bomb threats at HBCU campuses within a month,” the statement said. “Learning is one of the most noble and most human pursuits, and schools are sacred places that should always be free from terror. Solving these crimes and bringing those responsible to justice should be a top priority for federal law enforcement.”

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, a Morehouse College graduate whose district includes Albany, said in a statement Monday “Teachers and students should never have to live under such a threat and those who would engage in these terrorist tactics should face the full force of the law and justice.”