3/4/2017, 11:13 a.m.
Don’t let President Trump fool you.
Sure, he met with presidents of historically black colleges and universities earlier this week. But what really is the result of the meeting?
We believe little more than a photo op with “the blacks,” as he insultingly calls us, and an executive order designed to give Omarosa Manigault, his chief of African-American relations, a job by moving the White House Initiative on HBCUs back under the auspices of the White House.
Perhaps a photo with the esteemed HBCU presidents was President Trump’s way of remembering there is a Black History Month, and it is February.
His top staffer, Kellyanne Conway, demonstrated little regard for the illustrious group when she kicked off her shoes and tucked her feet up under her on the sofa in the Oval Office to check her cellphone like she was at home at a coffee klatch with her girlfriends.
President Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, also showed she has no clue when it comes to HBCUs or their needs. Following Monday’s meeting, she issued a statement lauding HBCUs and their history of providing “more options” for African-American students.
Ms. DeVos clearly doesn’t know that HBCUs were the only option for generations of African-Americans who sought further education. Public and private colleges, particularly throughout the South, refused to admit African-Americans. HBCUs like Virginia Union, Virginia State, Norfolk State and Hampton universities sprang up because white people didn’t believe in educating African-Americans. These schools did for our community what white elected and appointed officials and others never wanted — our advancement.
According to the United Negro College Fund, HBCUs produce 70 percent of all black dentists and doctors, 50 percent of black engineers and public schoolteachers and 35 percent of black lawyers. And while HBCUs account for only 3 percent of the nation’s colleges, they account for about 20 percent of the degrees awarded to African-Americans.
So the Secretary of Mis-education needs to learn some lessons of her own, along with her boss.
Support for HBCUs, including money for scholarships, research, faculty salaries and support, is critical as we move into the next decade.
Instead of President Trump using the meeting with college presidents to announce financial support for HBCUs, more money for research and development at institutions across the nation and increased dollars for tech transfer efforts to integrate into U.S. daily life the intellectual discoveries spawned by college campuses, he disappoints with his first budget pronouncements made during Tuesday night’s televised address before Congress.
He said he wants an additional $52 billion for defense spending, a 10 percent increase; money to put more police in cities such as Chicago to combat crime, like an occupying force; and millions of dollars to hire 10,000 new immigration, customs enforcement and border control agents to protect the nation’s borders. In reality, they will be more like the “slave catchers” in days of old, working to round up and deport the very people who work hard on the construction projects and in the farms, fields, hotels and restaurants owned by President Trump and many of the wealthy people who supported him in November.
We call upon the public to resist — to contact the White House, your representatives in Congress and the House and Senate leadership and tell them where you think your tax dollars should go.
We believe public monies would be better spent on funding HBCUs, education at all levels and more forward-looking projects to advance the nation and the good of its people.
Remember resistance is freedom, including the right to free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to practice any religion and to petition the government for a redress of any grievance.
Each of those rights is defined and protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Let President Trump, his cabinet and Congress know what the budget priorities should be. It’s your right.