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Trump Vowed to "Absolutely Prioritize" Black Colleges. Then Came His Budget.…

stringer bell
stringer bell Members Posts: 26,212 ✭✭✭✭✭
Is the White House betraying a promise to HBCUs?

On the morning of February 27, more than 70 presidents of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) stood in a West Wing corridor, waiting to enter the Oval Office. The meeting with President Donald Trump would be historic—the first time the head of every HBCU in the country had been invited to meet with the president at the White House. Top aides Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Reince Preibus mixed and mingled with the group. According to Morgan State University President David Wilson, who was among those attending, Bannon voiced a promise: "If you give us a plan, we will execute it." The implication was clear, Wilson says: Tell us what resources HBCUs need and the administration will find a way to pay for them in Trump's budget.

The Oval Office meeting was one of many conversations and phone calls since Election Day between HBCU presidents, leaders of HBCU advocacy groups, and the Trump White House. Earlier that day, the White House had promoted a newspaper story headlined "President Trump Seeks to Outdo Obama in Backing Black Colleges," which alluded to a plan for "historic" support for the schools. The next day, Trump signed an executive order that relocated a federal office devoted to helping fund and support black colleges from the Department of Education into the White House.

"We will make HBCUs a priority in the White House," Trump said at the signing. "An absolute priority."

But for leaders and advocates of these institutions, the release of Trump's budget in late May did nothing of the sort. Trump not only proposed no new funding for HBCUs, but also called for slashing millions of dollars from federal programs that support degree programs at the schools. Trump's plan appeared to boost Pell Grants by extending their use to year-round—but meanwhile called for taking away $5 billion-plus in reserves from the Pell program and cutting at least $1.5 billion from other federal financial aid programs, including work study. Taken together, these cuts would disproportionately affect low-income students at black colleges and cost the schools millions in revenue.

"The perception that many HBCU presidents were operating under was that the administration was making a commitment to follow up with a substantial investment in the institutions," Wilson told me recently. "What we see now certainly does not meet my definition of substantial investment."

"The budget doesn't match" earlier messaging from the White House, said Walter Kimbrough, the president of Dillard University. "I'll be interested to see how members of his team will say this undergirds his recent support for HBCUs. At least for Dillard, I can say it's a loss."

Advocates were further perplexed by Trump and questioned his commitment when he suggested in a statement in early May that special funding for black colleges could be unconstitutional. (After his comments drew a backlash, Trump expressed his "unwavering support" for HBCUs again in another statement.)

According to HBCU advocates, the Trump administration's outreach has been spearheaded by senior communications aide Omarosa Manigault and Ja'Ron Smith, who leads urban renewal efforts on Trump's domestic policy team. Manigualt and Smith, who are Howard University graduates, did not respond to requests for comment.
(Disclosure: I am a Howard graduate.)

Early this year, HBCU advocacy groups jointly proposed a plan for federal funding to the Trump administration. They asked that two key Department of Education programs that support HBCUs be funded at $500 million, the maximum level permitted by Congress, and that the Trump administration commit to increasing for HBCUs the percentage of grants and contracts reserved for institutions of higher education in the federal budget. They argued passionately that HBCUs could play a key role in a Trump plan to create new opportunities for African Americans: The schools have an outsize impact, enrolling 8 percent of all black college students in America and producing approximately 15 percent of those who earn bachelor's degrees. (The nation's approximately 100 HBCUs constitute 3 percent of the nation's colleges and universities.) The schools also graduate large numbers of first-generation college students; roughly 70 percent of the more than 290,000 students enrolled at HBCUs are low-income—more than twice the rate for college students nationally. Howard University is especially known for its many graduates who become lawyers, dentists, doctors, and engineers.

Johnny Taylor, president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, says the news about Trump's budget hasn't been all bad—HBCUs were mostly insulated from a proposed 13 percent across-the-board cut hitting the Department of Education, which supplies the majority of federal funding to HCBUs. Even being able to retain that core funding under Trump "is something that our community should celebrate," Taylor says.

But Kimbrough sees that as "moving the goal posts," especially after a promise was in the air from the White House. He and Wilson told Mother Jones that the other cuts, including those to financial aid programs, could cost their schools six- or possibly even seven-figure sums in revenue and would impact hundreds of their schools' students. "When you take away any money from any of the students that are on Pell Grants or coming from limited-resource families, you are putting them closer and closer to going back home," Wilson said. Even with as little as a few hundred dollars per semester—"those dollars actually mean the world for our students."

For many HBCU families, "it's a sacrifice to get students to go to school," Kimbrough said. So even relatively small cuts in federal aid can be devastating for them. Morgan State already spends around 15 percent of its budget on financial aid—a larger percentage than any other college in Maryland, according to Wilson; the school simply can't afford to subsidize cuts to government aid for more students.

Even after the first Trump budget proposal in March, skepticism was already stirring about the promises from the Trump White House. "This budget proposal is not a new deal for African Americans," Congressional Black Caucus chairman and Morehouse College alumnus Cedric Richmond said, speaking broadly of Trump's first budget proposal, which proposed lesser cuts to HBCU funding than the May version. "It's a raw deal that robs the poor and the middle-class to pay the richest of the rich."

Though the Oval Office meeting in February generated optimism among HBCU presidents, it was controversial among some students and alumni. A picture of the meeting that showed the presidents posing with Trump while Conway sat with her feet on the couch and her head in her phone was criticized as disrespectful. People who attended the meeting told Mother Jones that Conway was perched on the couch because she had been asked to take a picture of the large group and was then trying to get out of the way of the official White House photographer. But making matters worse, hours after that photo went viral, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos described HBCUs in a statement as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice." A torrent of criticism followed from black campuses and their alumni, who wondered whether DeVos understood that most HBCUs were founded because black students were banned from attending whites-only schools in the Jim Crow South. (DeVos later corrected her remarks.)


  • Shuffington
    Shuffington Members Posts: 3,775 ✭✭✭✭✭
    "We all knew what this was,"
  • Valentinez A. Kaiser
    Valentinez A. Kaiser Members Posts: 9,028 ✭✭✭✭✭


    ......................... so I lied
  • Trillfate
    Trillfate "i used to like the Ride more now i like the Race...i used like the Prize more now i like the Chase" Members Posts: 24,008 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Get kanye on the phone
  • playmaker88
    playmaker88 Boy, I tell you that's vision Like Tony Romo when he hitting Witten Members Posts: 67,905 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Wait you mean the same guy who discriminated against black people at his properties..this is preposterous
  • blackrain
    blackrain Members, Moderators Posts: 27,269 Regulator
    Y'all HBCU grads...go ask your school presidents how they fell for this 🤬 ...
  • LcnsdbyROYALTY
    LcnsdbyROYALTY King of Myself Members Posts: 13,763 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2017
    "We will make HBCUs a priority in the White House," Trump said at the signing. "An absolute priority."

    Lol read this and tell me he wasn't saying EXACTLY what he was saying. You're the priority to be cut.
  • Shuffington
    Shuffington Members Posts: 3,775 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Bannon voiced a promise: "If you give us a plan, we will execute it."

    I almost stopped reading at this point just so I could heavy laugh at the iron-ing
    but i powered through it.
  • Sandinista
    Sandinista Members Posts: 466 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Anyone who believes Trump is a chump that needs to be kicked in the 🤬 . 🤬 broke 64 campaign promises in his first month alone. Here they are. Someone actually counted them all:

  • gh0st
    gh0st Members Posts: 1,956 ✭✭✭✭✭
  • gh0st
    gh0st Members Posts: 1,956 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Trillfate wrote: »
    Get kanye on the phone

    Ye gone crazy right now he on family medical leave (while we still got it).

    Did someone call Steve Harvey?
  • marc123
    marc123 Members Posts: 16,999 ✭✭✭✭✭
    gh0st wrote: »

    im still shocked he actually said that to blk ppl. zero 🤬 given.
  • Valentinez A. Kaiser
    Valentinez A. Kaiser Members Posts: 9,028 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Bannon voiced a promise: "If you give us a plan, we will execute it."

    I almost stopped reading at this point just so I could heavy laugh at the iron-ing
    but i powered through it.

    This is how Bannon chose to "execute" it


  • mrtdb
    mrtdb Members Posts: 2,080 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I could have told anyone this would happen months before...

    matter of fact I think I did...repeatedly
  • stringer bell
    stringer bell Members Posts: 26,212 ✭✭✭✭✭
    White House Going Ahead With HBCU Conference After Charlottesville

    The president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund sent a letter to the White House with a simple recommendation for next month’s HBCU conference: Don’t do this — at least, not right now. But the White House is going forward as it continues to deal with fallout after Trump defended a white supremacist rally as including “some very fine people.”

    A White House official said that a Trump administration-backed conference for historically black colleges and universities will go ahead as planned next month.

    In recent days, a Democratic lawmaker and prominent nonprofit donor to the schools recommended to the White House that the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week Conference be postponed because of concerns “related to recent national events.”

    Omarosa Manigault-Newman, assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, said in an email to BuzzFeed News that the conference was still on for its original date, and that the administration remained committed to the mission of HBCUs.

    “President Trump’s commitment to the HBCU community remains strong and unwavering,” Manigault-Newman told BuzzFeed News. “Registration is currently at capacity and we are looking forward to welcoming HBCU presidents, students, and guests.”

    The conference is to be held Sept. 17–19 in Northern Virginia. But after President Trump seemed to defend some white supremacists as “very fine people,” leaders in the HBCU world began to reconsider whether it was still a good idea.

    The White House had already been engaged in conversations about appointing leaders to the board, finding an executive director for its HBCU initiative, and naming a chairman to lead, all before Trump’s troubled week on race, two sources close to the White House said.

    Johnny C. Taylor and Rep. Alma Adams, a North Carolina Democrat, were among the voices who tried to get the White House to halt the planning. Taylor, the outgoing president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, wrote a letter to Manigault-Newman, dated Aug. 18, saying that there was a “pretty strong consensus” in the HBCU leadership community that the White House should hold off until good faith measures — such as appointing an executive director and advisory board — showed that the White House had a “commitment to advancing the HBCU agenda.”

    Additionally, he noted that fears that the event would be counterproductive would cause some who had registered to not attend.

    Adams, making a case for postponement, said in a statement that she had this month asked for an update on the progress of Trump’s executive order. “It has become painstakingly clear that these promises are not being kept,” she said.

    “In this current environment, and with zero progress made on any of their priorities, it would be highly unproductive to ask HBCU presidents to come back to Washington," Adams said.

    Neither Adams nor Taylor spoke in explicit terms about Trump’s handling of matters of race following the death of 31-year-old Heather Heyer, a counterprotester at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Trump’s assertion that there were “very fine people” among the white supremacists, and that there was violence “on both sides,” has sparked a national debate about the president’s moral authority on racial issues.

    Two sources close to national HBCU leaders, and another familiar with the process, said it was unclear if Trump's rhetoric would produce a similar situation to Trump's strategic policy and manufacturing councils, both of which Trump ended with no warning after members quit. Though Manigault-Newman's statement indicated that the White House would roll out announcements on the board and advisory committee during the conference, a source advising the White House on HBCUs said he's talked to "multiple people" in HBCU circles who have privately slammed Trump's comments with disgust.

    HBCUs rely on critical funding from the federal government, and few, if any, presidents would risk angering Trump with a public display. Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of Merck, who is black, recently quit an administration council — and in return was the object of a vindictive tweet from Trump. Sources in the HBCU sphere said they wouldn’t put it past the administration to cut off funding in revenge.

    The HBCU group isn’t a new creation of the Trump White House; Obama's board was chaired by William R. Harvey, the president of Hampton University. Wayne A.I. Frederick, the president of Howard University, and Beverly Wade Hogan, the president of Tougaloo College, were also on the board.

    The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in July that the White House was having problems finding an executive director, adding that it had tapped Jarrett L. Carter Sr., but that he withdrew from the running, citing organizational issues. "I didn’t want to be in that position, because once you say yes, and once they announce you, the White House is hands-off on answering anything," he said. "If you’re not ready with an answer, or at a least a timetable for when you’re going to have an answer, you’re at a disadvantage."

    Paris Dennard, a staunch defender of the president’s positions on race and white supremacists in the wake of Charlottesville, said that rumors swirling that he was being considered for the position were not true.
  •   Colin$mackabi$h
    Colin$mackabi$h Smartass Snatch Money ave.Members Posts: 16,586 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Koltrain wrote: »
    Wow, I'm completely surprised.. I thought he wanted the best for us

    Got daaamn! - noob noob
  • The Lonious Monk
    The Lonious Monk Man with No Fucks Given Members Posts: 26,258 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Ironically, he's also hurting whites. There are a few HBCUs that are now majority white who are depending on the funding too. Also, if I'm not mistaken, whites and other nonblacks get AA treatment at HBCUs.
  • Lab Baby
    Lab Baby Parts Unknown via BrooklynMembers Posts: 8,154 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Hey, you know... bootstraps and all that.
  • themadlionsfan
    themadlionsfan Members Posts: 9,134 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Koltrain wrote: »
    Wow, I'm completely surprised.. I thought he wanted the best for us

    I feel completely blindsided....

    Based on all the talk I just knew he was going to have out best interest in mind...

    I suddenly remember the feeling of pain as tears welled up in my eyes when I was told the brutal truth of the reality of Santa Claus