They happen when a sense of disconnect settles in and hope dissipates. Despair takes hold and young people all across this country look at the way the world is and believe that things are never going to get any better. You tell yourself, my school will always be second rate. You tell yourself, there will never be a good job waiting for me to excel at. You tell yourself, I will never be able to afford a place that I can be proud of and call my home. That despair quietly simmers and makes it impossible to build strong communities and neighborhoods. And then one afternoon a jury says, "Not guilty" -- or a hurricane hits New Orleans -- and that despair is revealed for the world to see.
In 2010, President Obama regarding HBCUs stated:
We also want to keep strengthening HBCUs, which is why we're investing $850 million in these institutions over the next 10 years. And as I said in February, strengthening your institutions isn't just a task for our advisory board or for the Department of Education; it's a job for the entire federal government. And I expect all agencies to support this mission.
However, by policy and appointment, President Obama has demonstrated a low priority for historically black colleges and universities and today, presidents and advocates at HBCUs are quietly expressing outrage with the Obama administration. In the last two years alone federal grant funding to HBCUs has decreased by more than $300 million.
Thus far the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities is failing. And the problem is not that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has refused to take up the president’s budget, which has 228 million in funding for HBCUs. The problem is the federal government. The Obama administration, without consulting or notifying HBCUs changed the requirement for the PLUS Loans, making thousands of Black parents ineligible for the popular loan program due to the new credit criteria imposed by the Department of Education. This has dramatically decreased student enrollment at many of the 106 HBCUs and consequently decreased their funding. Earlier this year, relations between the Obama administration and the HBCUs deteriorated to the point that several college presidents were floating around the idea of suing the administration.