Psychologist Wants to Purchase Closed HBCU

Dorothy Rowley | 6/17/2014, 8:44 p.m.
Umar Johnson wants to convert Saint Paul's College in Virginia to a boarding school for black boys. (Courtesy photo)

Umar Johnson, long considered an expert on the educational needs of young black males, has expressed intent to purchase Saint Paul's College, a 126-year-old historically black institution in Lawrenceville, Virginia, that closed last June and has been eyed as a possible federal haven for immigrant children.

Johnson has to raise $5 million by Aug. 21 to obtain the school. If successful, he intends to transform the defunct college into a boarding school named the Frederick Douglass and Marcus Garvey International Leadership Academy for Black Boys. The school's curriculum would include training to enable students to pursue careers as entrepreneurs.

"The FDMG Academy will teach our children to be masters of agricultural/agronomical science, economic/financial science, political/military science, nutritional/dietary science, family/community science and African centered spiritual/cosmological science," he said.

Johnson, the Philadelphia-based author of "Psycho-Academic Holocaust: The Special Education & ADHD War against Black Boys," is a nationally-certified school psychologist. Much of his work has focused on how the educational system uses learning disabilities to unfairly label black boys.

Saint Paul's, located about four hours south of D.C., was shuttered due to crushing financial difficulties. The college normally enrolled roughly 600 students, but at the time of its closing, only about 35 students were attending classes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also mulled using the 35-building campus to house about 500 undocumented and unaccompanied immigrant children who have been flocking to the country in states such as Texas and Arizona.

However, residents near the school have railed against the federal government's plan, citing safety concerns for their communities.