In a controversial move, the North Carolina State Senate introduced a bill last week that could eventually bankrupt five of the state’s universities.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Western Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University, Winston-Salem State University, and Fayetteville State University will all be adversely impacted by Senate Bill 873. Out of these five institutions of higher learning, the last three mentioned are HBCUs.

The “Access to Affordable College Education Act” proposes to change the names of those schools and drastically slash tuition down to $500 per semester.

If the bill is passed, the controversial legislation will cause the state to lose millions in revenue and will result in massive program cuts at those universities.

On Tuesday, Roland Martin spoke with Rev. William BarberEdith Bartley, VP of Government Affairs for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Rep. G.K. Butterfield, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, about North Carolina Senate Bill 873 and their plan to keep the bill from gutting HBCUs.

Rep. Butterfield told Martin, “When you think Republicans in North Carolina have reached their limit, they find a higher place to go.”

The head of the CBC called SB 873 “despicable” and a “thinly veiled attempt to target HBCUs in our state. We have five HBCUs in North Carolina that are state supported and this bill is now targeting three of those five.”

“It is a shame that they are using the cost of education as an excuse to try to eliminate these HBCUs,” he added.

Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and leader of the Moral Monday movement in the state, said those individuals who are proposing Senate Bill 873 are “extremists.”

“They cut a billion dollars from public education,” Barber said. “This is the same group that passed the so-called voter integrity law, which is actually the worst voter suppression law in the country — this is the group that said in order to help people get health care, they denied Medicaid expansion to 500,000 people.”

Barber called the proponents of SB 873 masters of deception and said the controversial bill is “classic underdevelopment.” 

Later during their conversation, Rev. Barber exposed what he believes is the Republican playbook on pushing their discriminatory practices across the country when he said ALEC and the Tea Party “try things in North Carolina to see if they can do it here and if they could win here without a fight — they will push it around the rest of the country.”

Watch Roland Martin, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, Rev. William Barber, Edith Bartley, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the battle against SB 873 in the video clip above.

TV One’s NewsOne Now has moved to 7 A.M. ET, be sure to watch “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.

Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.

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North Carolina Bill Could Force Several HBCUs To Close

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