NAFEO appreciates the clarification by President Trump. We are pleased that President Trump underscored his unfaltering commitment to investing in HBCUs–mission-based, equal educational opportunity institutions.
The significance of the nation’s highest ranking education official selecting as the campus for the delivery of her first commencement speech at an American university–Bethune-Cookman–one of the nation’s HBCUs–does not escape us. The selection of one of the 106 mission-based American colleges and universities known as HBCUs for her inaugural commencement address is an important indication that this Administration understands the centrality of HBCUs to the realization of many of its priority goals including its education, workforce, economic stimulus, urban and rural revitalization, and infrastructure development goals.
At Bethune-Cookman, one of America’s “Top 50 Most Beautiful Colleges by the Sea,” Secretary DeVos will see examples of the return on the federal investments in the campus infrastructure, libraries, laboratories, and classrooms. In the speeches and musical renditions of the students, she will hear the return on investments in BCU. If she focuses on the diversity of the disciplines of the graduates, she will see other examples of the ROIs in BCU. A review of the biographical sketches of the BCU administrators, faculty, and staff, she will evidence other dividends of federal investments. Secretary DeVos will see excellent, diverse students anchored in the pedagogy of their disciplines and the faith-based, education liberation and innovation traditions of BCU and other HBCUs. She will see students who have both become increasingly independent and interdependent because of the HBCU teaching that we are all interdependence and interconnected. Hopefully Secretary DeVos will interact with students who are matriculating or graduating at BCU because of federal grant or loan programs, as well as the priorities their families, faith institutions, and communities placed on their education; their focused determination and fortitude. As she is absorbing some of the things that make BCU great, hopefully Secretary DeVos will “give a nod” to the student activists, alumni, and members of the community who will likely be afforded a safe space in which to exercise their First Amendment right “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” in a manner that does not trammel the rights of others.
Witnessing firsthand some of the dividends of federal investments in Bethune-Cookman in particular and HBCUs in general–some of the returns on the investments in the quintessential equal educational opportunity institutions–Secretary DeVos will become an even more potent voice for HBCUs, the American colleges and universities graduating disproportionate percentages of the growing populations of our nation in the growth and high need disciplines; the economic engines of their service areas; and the creators and sustainers of the African American middle class.
NAFEO looks forward to continuing to work with the Administration on matters of common interest.