Supporters rally to aid Sojourner-Douglass

Ruling may force college to tear down Arundel site

September 16, 2005|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Nearly 300 people turned out at a rally yesterday to support Sojourner-Douglass College, the historically black Baltimore college that may have to tear down a new satellite campus in Edgewater because of a recent appeals court ruling.

"We need the college there," said Sheila M. Finlayson, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and among those who attended the rally.

Protesters gathered at an Annapolis church, then marched to the steps of the Maryland Courts of Appeals building, where the case is pending.

The rally and march followed a ruling by a three-judge panel of the Court of Special Appeals that construction of the classroom building and parking lot was barred by a 1988 covenant that required the 6-acre wooded parcel to remain "undeveloped, except for educational facilities in conjunction with the Anne Arundel County Board of Education."

That ruling - issued days after the opening of the Annapolis-area campus - voided a 2004 ruling by an Anne Arundel County judge who said construction by a private developer could proceed. One option before the court is to require that the building be torn down.

Opposition to the college has mainly come from some white residents in Edgewater, though they've repeatedly said race is not a factor.

College representatives have said they complied with the law; they are making the building available during the day to a new charter school that is targeting traditionally low-performing students in the Annapolis area.

The Anne Arundel County branch of the NAACP; RESPECT, a coalition of African-American organizations; and alumni and students of Sojourner-Douglass organized the march and rally.

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