Republican lawmakers are planning to meet with leaders of historically Black colleges and universities in the nation’s capital later this month to discuss ways to help the financially strapped institutions survive difficult times.
The meeting, organized by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, will take place Feb. 28 at the Library of Congress, where leaders of the nation’s 100-plus HBCUs and GOP lawmakers will gather to discuss ways the schools can partner with government and corporate agencies to ensure future funding, the Associated Press reported.
News of the meeting comes just days after the White House announced plans to write up an executive order that was specifically aimed at helping HBCUs. The move was seemingly an effort by President Trump and his administration to outdo ex-President Barack Obama, who critics argued didn’t do enough to help HBCUs during his time in office.
Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics showed that between 2010 and 2014, total enrollment at the nation’s HBCUs fell from 326,614 to 294,316. Moreover, the number of African-American students enrolled at these historically Black institutions plummeted from 18 percent of the overall total in 1976 to just 8 percent in 2014.
“I believe it is as important as ever to have Republicans engage with HBCUs,” said Rep. Walker, who noted that his wife is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University. “Our goal is to bring bipartisan support to HBCUs and create an open dialogue to address issues they face.”
Sen. Scott echoed Walker sentiments, highlighting the historic value of HBCUs.
“For decades, our nation’s HBCUs have graduated amazing and talented individuals who have gone on to achieve remarkable accomplishments,” Scott said. “From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison and famed writer Langston Hughes, we have seen how HBCU grads have shaped the direction of our country.”
The Grio reported that at least 10 schools have agreed to attend the meeting, including Florida A&M University and Winston-Salem State. President Trump also is scheduled to give his first State of the Union Address on the day of the meeting.