Earlier this week, dozens of HBCU heads joined President Donald Trump at the White House for what was pegged to be a conversation promising to “do more for HBCUs than any other president had done before.”
Sadly…and pretty predictably, many of the institutions’ leaders were let down.
On Thursday, Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. expressed disappointment in the meeting. In a statement posted to the college’s website, Wilson Jr. said that “many had high hopes about this meeting” and “there was much advance chatter about it being ‘historic.'”
“In general, the meetings were a troubling beginning to what must be a productive relationship,” Wilson Jr. wrote.
In his statement, the president of one of the oldest and most prestigious historically Black collegiate institutions said Trump did not live up to his boastful rhetoric. He also noted some very concerning language in Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ luncheon speech regarding HBCUs.
“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,” Wilson Jr. continued. “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?”
When Obama was president, he set aside $3 billion for African-American colleges and made them a priority within the Department of Education. But like many of us predicted, Trump used these Black leaders for nothing more than a photo op.