The president’s upcoming meeting with HBCU leaders is on. But will anyone come?
That remains to be seen.
The meeting is set to take place September 17-19; administration officials are expected to elaborate on commitments made to HBCUs earlier this year when President Trump signed an executive order meant to strengthen the institutions.
Omarosa Manigault-Newman said that the identity of Trump’s HBCU Initiative executive director will be revealed at the meeting, according to McClatchy.
Supreme Court justice-style revelations aren’t enough to tempt some HBCU leaders, however, Inside Higher Education reports. This week, many of those invited have called to say that they will no longer be attending.
But wait. Fake news, Omarosa says. “Registration is currently at capacity and we are looking forward to welcoming HBCU presidents, students and guests.”
Although Omarosa is excited for the event, the Congressional Black Caucus isn’t so sure it is a good idea. Nor is the HBCU Caucus. Or the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
All 49 members of the CBC requested that the White House cancel the event early this week. The caucus’ chairperson, Cedric Richmond (D-LA), said that Trump’s response to Charlottesville and the protectionist stance he has taken on CSA monuments shows that he cares nothing about black Americans.
Representative Alma Adams (D-NC), a member of the CBC and head of the HBCU Caucus, went a step further.
“It would be more productive to hear from the president directly or from his education secretary about what progress they are making on the HBCUs’ request before asking presidents to come back to Washington for another photo op.”
Omarosa, for her part, said that this will be a productive meeting, and that the president is definitely not just using it as an opportunity to take a few pictures with black people that aren’t her, Ben Carson or Michael the Black Man.
“President Trump’s commitment to the HBCU community remains strong and unwavering,” Omarosa said.
Representative Adams wants to know why the president won’t answer any of her letters to him about HBCUs if his support is so resolute.
“Earlier this month, my colleagues and I asked the administration for an update on their progress regarding HBCUs.” Adams and her colleagues never heard back.
It isn’t the first time the CBC’s letters have gone unanswered by the White House.
The head of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund , Johnny C. Taylor, also wrote the administration a letter asking it to postpone the meeting, according to the Miami Herald.
Speaking on behalf of several HBCUs, Taylor wrote, “There’s a pretty strong consensus that the White House should consider postponing” the event, and added that any talk about education would be “overshadowed” by “concerns related to recent national events, ultimately making the conference counterproductive.”
Inside Higher Education asked Taylor if he was referring to Charlottesville with the letter. Taylor said that the letter speaks for itself.
Richmond, on the other hand, wasn’t in the mood to be diplomatic about Charlottesville, directly attacking Omarosa, who is coordinating the event.
“Omarosa is still pretending to have influence with this president,” Richmond said, “I’m just surprised that she’s still there as an African American woman after his latest comments.”
As the war of words continues between the CBC and the Trump administration, it remains to be seen whether the conference will be well attended or inauguration well attended.
One thing, however, is clear: six months after Trump signed his HBCU executive order, very little of it has been executed.
It was meant to bring HBCU matters under White House control; but the DOE remains in charge of HBCUs for now. And, the promised HBCU executive director, meant to be not only an, but the advocate for the schools, is nowhere to be found.