Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is preparing to enter next year’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, quietly received his diploma from Alabama A&M University in May 2020, 12 years after he attended classes there.
Barnes came under criticism two years ago for saying that he had a degree even though he had not yet fulfilled all the requirements to receive one.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday that the Barnes campaign provided a copy of his year-old diploma.
Barnes received his bachelor’s degree in communications media specializing in performance. The diploma was dated May 1, 2020, and included signatures from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama A&M President Andrew Hugine Jr.
Barnes attended Alabama A&M from the fall of 2003 to the spring of 2008.
In a statement, Barnes told the Journal Sentinel: “In 2008, I completed all my courses at Alabama A&M and walked in graduation ceremonies. However, due to a minor technical issue with my transcript, the diploma was never sent. Last year, I worked with the appropriate Alabama A&M officials to resolve the internal error and was awarded the diploma I earned back in 2008.”
Barnes faced questions about his degree after telling Madison’s Isthmus newspaper in August 2019 that he left college before completing his degree. In response to a Wisconsin State Journal candidate questionnaire in 2018 when he was running in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, his campaign stated he had a “BA in Broadcast Journalism-Alabama A&M University.” A B.A. is a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Barnes, a former Milwaukee legislator, won the primary with 68% of the vote against Sheboygan businessman Kurt Kober. A Barnes spokesperson said the questionnaire response was an error made by a former campaign staffer.
“I had a class. I got an incomplete. I completed the coursework to get that incomplete resolved. It never got turned in,” Barnes told the Isthmus. “It’s a small technical thing.”
Barnes is expected to soon join a large field of Democrats running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. The election is in 2022.
Barnes faced questions about his degree after telling Madison's Isthmus newspaper in August 2019 that he left college before completing his degree.