President Donald Trump stopped by the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington D.C. to give a speech at this year’s National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference on Tuesday. It was an opportunity for him to address college students, administrators, and community leaders and talk about the policy changes the Trump administration has made to improve higher education, particularly in the Black community.
The annual conference, which brings together representatives from HBCUs nationwide, is planned under the leadership of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which was originally created in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan.
The speech was less about the educational advances afforded to students who attend HBCUs, but more about what Trump and his administration have done in the last three years to prioritize HBCUs and thus support the Black community.
Trump mentioned specific examples, including signing legislation to increase Federal funding for HBCUs adding more than $100 million for scholarships, research, and centers of excellence. He also mentioned that this week, the Department of Justice “published an opinion” declaring it’s unconstitutional to restrict faith-based HBCUs from also accessing federal funding.
“Every day of my presidency, we’ll strive to give every child, of every background and every race, religion, color, and creed, the best chance to reach that beautiful American Dream,” said Trump.
“As we do, I pledge that we will always support the institutions which help make these goals possible: our nation’s wonderful HBCUs. We will never let you down and we will never stop fighting for you.”
This was also a chance for Trump to reveal more about the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council’s new Opportunity Zones, an initiative created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to stimulate economic development and job creation in low-income neighborhoods. There are apparently 9,000 communities identified as part of these zones across the country and the administration is working on $100 billion in private investments to help revitalize these areas through job creation and criminal justice reform, specifically helping prisoners to successfully rejoin society.
After taking full credit for the rise in the median income for Black households by 2.6 percent (2017-2018), poverty rates for Blacks and Latinos reaching new lows, Trump then broke from his prepared remarks referencing the 2020 race, saying, “Who’s going to beat these numbers? Please tell me?”
Besides a number of students who attend various HBCUs, also in attendance were Trump son-in-law and Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor, Jared Kushner as well as Ja’Ron Smith, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Office of American Innovation, Nicole Frazier, Special Assistant to the President, Director of Strategic Partnerships and African American Outreach, Jonathan Holifeld, Executive Director of The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Scott Turner, Executive Director of the WH Opportunity & Revitalization Council (WHO) who spoke briefly during the event.
Watch the eye-opening speech below: