Honoring our Historical African American Colleges & Universities, part 4

This brings us to the end of this article series with the latest next step with Trump’s executive order on behalf of HBCUs. On February 28, 2017, Trump signed an HBCU Executive Order. According to J.L. Carter, Sr., Trump Administration Applauds HBCUs, Will Sign Executive Order Tomorrow (HBCU Digest, September 27, 2017), “The executive order, the development of which many advocates say has been among the most progressive partnerships between the White House and HBCUs in decades, could reveal new standards of funding and federal support for black colleges, including moving the White House Initiative on HBCUs under the purview of White House administration and mandatory funding benchmarks from federal agencies for grants and contracts.”

This order established a White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities to be housed in the Executive Office of the President and led by an Executive Director designated by the President. The mission and function of this Initiative includes working “. . . with agencies, private-sector employers, educational associations, philanthropic organizations, and other partners to increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education to an increasing number of students.”

Reported by Jacqueline Alemany, Trump issues executive orders on HBCUs, environmental regulations (CBS News, February 28, 2017), it is hoped the Initiative being under the White House “will encourage strategic partnerships with other agencies and outside groups by giving it greater visibility. The United Negro College Fund had requested President Trump to move the Initiative to the White House and be led by a person “. . . who reports to a senior advisor to the President, . . .”

Some may be touting that Trump is trying to outdo Obama on this HBCU effort. According to Anita Kumar and William Douglas, Trump seeks to outdo Obama in backing black colleges (McClatchy Washington Bureau, February 27, 2017). With the many federal agencies supporting colleges, “The potential is huge. Federal agencies have thousands of contracts with colleges, universities and think tanks worth billions of dollars, primarily for research that includes studying everything from cancer to poverty . . . It would be truly, truly historic,” said Leonard Haynes, a longtime educator who ran the office and helped write the executive order. “It’s part of a long time dream…none of (the other presidents) had the courage to do it.”

With more than 100 HBCUs that serve about 300,000 students, “. . . Black colleges represent 3 percent of the country’s two-year and four-year institutions but account for about 20 percent of degrees awarded to African-Americans and generate 25 percent of all the bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields earned by African-Americans annually, according to U.S. Department of Education and Thurgood Marshall College Fund statistics.”

Let us also keep in mind, according to Monica Anderson, A look at historically black colleges and universities as Howard turns 150 (Pew Research, February 28, 2017), “Although these schools were established to serve black students, HBCUs have long enrolled students of all races and ethnicities – a trend that has become more prevalent over the years. The percentage of HBCU students who were either white, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, or Native American was 17% in 2015, up from 13% in 1980. Hispanic students, in particular, have seen their overall shares grow on HBCU campuses, increasing from 1.6% in 1980 to 4.6% in 2015.”

The question remains. Are these just photo-ops for President Trump and do nothing, or as someone was quoted above, are we seeing something else here? Is it possible that Trump and those along side are surprising us? Maybe Trump is not really “outdoing Obama,” but actually building on what so many of our Presidents have done over those many years and generations to right the wrongs.
Yes, Trump definitely behaves differently than former Presidents according to so-called “White House” protocols and practices. His blend of business and bureaucracy is definitely interesting to watch. One thing for sure, he is getting all our attentions on what is next with his what, why, when, where, with whom, and how. See you next go around!