After meeting with the Trump administration for two days and reviewing Cheddar Bob’s executive order on HBCUs, Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. issued a statement Thursday admitting that over 100 HBCU presidents went to the White House, and all they left with an Instagram photo.
“I spent the last two days in meetings at the White House and on Capitol Hill. As some of you may know, all HBCU presidents were invited to a dialogue with President Trump and his new administration about support for HBCUs. Most of the 104 HBCU presidents attended, including all presidents from the Georgia-based HBCUs.
Many had high hopes about this meeting. There was much advance chatter about it being “historic,” and there were many signals from key Trump administration officials that they would surprise HBCUs with favorable treatment. Given my experience in the Obama administration, I knew this would require an extraordinary announcement. Why? Because I knew that President Obama had invested $3 billion more in HBCUs in his first six years than President Bush invested in his final six years. Therefore, since President Trump pledged to “do more for HBCUs than any other president has done before,” we could have reasonably expected him to get started by announcing at least an additional $500 million to HBCUs…this year! And beside the expectation of new funding, there was advance talk of changes like an aspirational goal of 5 to 10 percent for federal agency funding to HBCUs, a special HBCU innovation fund, large boosts in Pell Grant and Title III funding, and extra tax breaks for those in the private sector who contribute to HBCUs. But, instead of the long-awaited executive order containing or signaling any of those outcomes, the key change is a symbolic shift of the White House HBCU Initiative from the Department of Education to the White House. It is not possible to measure the impact of this gesture anytime soon, if ever.
It should also be noted that, in her luncheon speech to HBCU presidents yesterday, Education Secretary DeVos struck a discordant note when she said of HBCUs, “They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution. HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice.”
But HBCUs were not created because the 4 million newly freed blacks were unhappy with the choices they had. They were created because they had no choices at all. That is not just a very important distinction, it is profoundly important. Why? Because, if one does not understand the crippling and extended horrors of slavery, then how can one really understand the subsequent history and struggle of African Americans, or the current necessities and imperatives that grow out of that history and struggle?”
What are your thoughts on Donald Trump’s photo opp deception tactics? You can read the rest of Wilson’s statement here.