Last week’s HBCU Fly-In saw the leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities meet with White House representatives in an attempt to develop a prosperous relationship for both parties. While the White House touted a win for both sides, HBCU presidents that attended the meeting reported different results. Presidents John L. Wilson of Morehouse College and Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough of Dillard University expressed their dissatisfaction with the event in online statements relaying a belief that bigger results were expected. These bigger results were based on previous comments made by President Trump stating that he would do more for HBCU’s than any President before him.
Whether President Trump truly wishes to help HBCUs remains to be seen, but a larger issue should be addressed as we move forward. The larger issue is the executive order signed by President Trump moving HBCU issues from the Department of Education to the White House. While this shouldn’t be a big deal, there may be cause for concern when considering the firing of a HUD employee only a few weeks ago.
In October, the Hill released an op-ed from Mr. Singleton that criticized then candidate Donald Trump. The op-ed was no more than a subjective opinion of what was taking place within the Republican Party under the Trump campaign. According to Singleton “We allowed that hostile takeover to happen on our watch. This individual recognized a moment of great disparity in the Republican base and, like cancer, attacked and spread, consuming everything in his path.” On February 15th, Singleton was fired for his remarks in the October op-ed.
With President Trump reacting unfavorably to negative opinions concerning his administration, one must ask what his response will be if HBCUs follow suit. Is Singleton’s firing a warning to HBCUs who seek to receive federal funding? If an HBCU President decides to critique the Trump administration will they be punished with a decrease in funding?
It’s hard to tell which side the Trump administration will fall on in this, but one thing is now a fact: President Trump now has the power to decide the future of HBCUs in America. While everyone seems to be looking at the positives, I am looking at the short history of the Trump administration and the long history of Donald Trump himself. HBCU Presidents must now proceed with caution, otherwise they may be heading down a path of ruin.