Local Reaction To Ayers Agreement


After 26 years of legal action, Mississippi's college desegregation case is almost over.

Today, all sides in the Ayers case signed off on a 500 million dollar deal that's aimed at ending decades of disparity in the state's higher education system.

The deal still needs a federal judge's approval, but here's some of what the settlement includes:

246 million dollars for academic programs at Jackson State, Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State... Misisssippi's three predominately black universities.

The money will be allocated over the next 17 years

Another 75 million dollars will pay for capital improvement projects at the three universities over five years.

The settlement also includes 70 million in public endowments and 35 million in private endowments.

James Stubbs from Alcorn State feels,"It was a long time coming, and that comes back to continue to fight, fight, fight, fight, until you aceive some result. Yes, 26 years is a long time but if we had thrown our hands up a long time ago, Where would we be today."

Now graduates of Mississippi's Historicaly black Universities, say with the millions of dollars maybe 26 years down the road, all universities will be equal.

"The settlement will be utilized to attract additional students, provide better facilites, and to bring the physical plant of the universities back in line with the rest of the University systems.

Former Biloxi City Councilman and Jackson State Graduate doesnt' beleive the improvments will come instantly.

He says, "The terms of the agreement will be implemented over many years, so students enrolled now won't see the payoff. Still they too are happy a settlement has come."

But even with 500 million dollars for black universities, the agreement didn't accomplish everything the plaintiff's wanted.

Issac Byrd who represented the plainiff's  feels that this is a settlement, and in a settlement you don't get everything you want.

He adds, "There are some things we diddn't get and something we aren't happy about, but you can't do anything about it."

Still, Bill Stallworth says Jake Ayers fought when no one else would... and this is his legacy.

Stallworth the best way to truley honor Ayers is by a poem he learned while he was a student at Jackson State,  " It was something that anybody could do, somebody should've done but nobody was doing, Well he did it, I think that made all the difference in the world."