Vice President Kamala Harris recently met with cast members from the classic sitcom A Different World to highlight the White House’s work toward student debt relief. But while plenty of people have celebrated the collaboration, others have been more critical.

"From Hillman to Howard, it is A Different World"

On Friday, Harris posted a video featuring herself and several members of the cast of A Different World discussing HBCUs and student loan debt. “Whether you went to Hillman, Howard, or somewhere else, nobody should have to bear the burden of unmanageable student debt,” Harris tweeted along with a video highlighting debt relief efforts by the Biden-Harris administration. “I was thrilled to join the cast of A Different World to uplift our Administration’s student debt relief programs.”

Harris posted a follow-up video on Saturday, titled “From Hillman to Howard, it is A Different World.” Set to the show’s theme song, it shows several of the castmates posing outside of the White House before they enter and meet with Harris, who is seen talking with them. Harris’ video has been popular on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, with over 4 million views and 20 thousand likes as of Monday afternoon.

"It’s campaign season alright"

While the collaboration with the celebrities seems to be popular, not everyone is happy about it. A number of social media users took to X to complain that the appearance was pandering to a Black audience in an election year and that it didn’t match the administration’s accomplishments for Black voters. One tweet simply acknowledged the video with “yeah it’s campaign season alright”

“Everyone else gets policy. Black people get hip hop parties and propaganda,” read one tweet.

Repping HBCUs

Despite the backlash to the video, other commenters came to the defense of the vice president and the cast of the show. “Our VP has fought for HBCUs forever and reps us every day,” a social media user wrote alongside a video montage of stories about Harris repping HBCUs and securing increased funding for the schools.

“Not defending anyone but for those calling this “pandering”: this ADW tour started at Kean University in NJ in October 2023, six months ago,” another social media user posted.

As noted, the cast has reunited, nearly 40 years after the show first aired, to embarked on a tour of HBCUs, and they are seeking to raise the profile and enrollment of these schools. The group, which includes Charnele Brown, Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, Dawnn Lewis, Cree Summer and Glynn Turman, kicked off the tour in February with visits to Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College in Atlanta. Additional planned stops include Howard University, Tuskegee University and Alabama State University. The tour has received corporate sponsorship from Cisco and Wells Fargo, as well as backing from nonprofits Minds Matter and the Student Freedom Initiative.

With the presidential campaign in full swing, we can expect Harris and other members of the administration to continue their outreach to Black voters, who may be decisive again in this election. And as the importance of HBCUs and the burden of student debt remain key issues for young Black people, the A Different World cast is expected to continue to shine a spotlight on Black colleges and students around the country.