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Thu, 01.15.1981

Knight v. Alabama is Filed

Court hearing

*On this date in 1981, Knight v. Alabama was filed in federal court.  The suit, brought by John F. Knight and others associated with two Historically Black Colleges in Alabama (HBCU), held that Alabama's higher education system utilized racially discriminatory practices in allocating funding and admissions.

The State of Alabama's practices were determined to be in violation of the constitution as a result of trials in 1991 and 1995. As a result, the state was subject to monitoring by the district court.  Litigation continued in the wake of the initial cases and extended into Alabama's property tax system.  The district court found that Alabama's property tax system fails to collect enough tax to adequately fund education for all of its students, which disproportionately hurts minority students.

Citing the property tax system and its practices of limiting taxation of land zoned for agriculture to an average of less than $1 per acre, the district court called it "a vestige of discrimination" that has "successfully used the argument that it is unfair for white property owners to pay for the education of blacks".  

Though the district court offered findings, no action was taken against the state due to its original scope focusing on higher education. A new lawsuit, called Lynch v. Alabama, has been taken up to focus on K-12 funding.  

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