Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. Says HBCU Presidents’ Meetings with Trump Were ‘Troubling’

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The president of one of the country’s oldest historically black colleges called a series of meetings with Trump administration officials this week “troubling” and said they ultimately failed to live up to expectations.

“In general, the meetings were a troubling beginning to what must be a productive relationship,” Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. said in a statement to the school’s students on Wednesday, highlighted by the Huffington Post.

The meetings, which took place on Monday and Tuesday, brought dozens of representatives from the country’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) to Washington to meet with senior administration officials.

The trip, Wilson wrote, was supposed to be “historic” and a step in fulfilling President Trump’s pledge that he would “do more for HBCUs than any other president has done before.” There was anticipation among the representatives that the president would set aside additional funding for HBCUs or potentially create new tax incentives for private sector donors to the schools, Wilson said.

“But, instead of the long-awaited executive order containing or signaling any of those outcomes, the key change is a symbolic shift of the White House HBCU Initiative from the Department of Education to the White House,” he said in the statement.

Trump’s executive order moves the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from the Department of Education to the White House’s executive office. It directs the initiative to work with the private sector to boost HBCUs, improve infrastructure, provide job opportunities for students, and work with high schools to improve access to the colleges.

Wilson also blasted comments by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in which she called HBCUs “real pioneers when it comes to school choice” – an education policy advocated by DeVos.

HBCUs, Wilson said, did not develop out of a desire for greater school choice, but rather because many African Americans were not permitted to attend other schools.

“HBCUs were not created because the 4 million newly freed blacks were unhappy with the choices they had,” he said. “They were created because they had no choices at all. That is not just a very important distinction, it is profoundly important.”

DeVos later walked back her comment.

But Wilson did not disparage the Education secretary and said that she should not be “diminished or dismissed” for her remark.

“From listening to her carefully for the last two days, I get the strong sense that she wants to get this job right,” he said.

SOURCE: The Hill – Max Greenwood