Not too long after HBCU leaders met with the Trump administration for two days to review his HBCU Executive Order, Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. issued a statement admitting that the meeting was
“disappointing” despite having “high hopes.”
“There was much advance chatter about [the executive order] being ‘historic,’and there were many signals from key Trump administration officials that they would surprise HBCUs with favorable treatment,” wrote Wilson.
Prior to the event, Trump promised HBCUs that he was going to do more for them than any other president, including former President Obama who invested $3 billion into these schools. However HBCU leaders’ excitement died pretty quick after the sit-down started:
“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.”
Wilson also expressed his disdain for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who on the same day that they met with Trump, said that HBCUs were “pioneers” of 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?”
He concluded that despite the rocky start, HBCUs will continue the conversation.
“In general, the meetings were a troubling beginning to what must be a productive relationship. Trust that the HBCU community will continue to press for the kind of funding that educational excellence and national competitiveness require!” he wrote.