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President Obama supports black colleges and universities

Democrat president Barack Obama greeting presidents of Black Colleges and universities at White House 9-13-10

Remarks by President Obama to presidents of historically black colleges and universities, as provided by the White House

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!


THE PRESIDENT:  Welcome. Welcome to the White House. It is good to see some old friends and familiar faces. And I want to especially welcome three of our newest board members of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I am so grateful that they’ve agreed to join, and I’m looking forward to working with all of you.

 Now, last February, I saw some of you here when I signed the executive order to strengthen the White House initiative on HBCUs.  And this is allowing the government to collaborate with educational associations, with philanthropic organizations, and with the private sector to increase your capacity to offer a college degree to as many students as possible.

 We’ve also declared this week to be National HBCU Week. And we do this for two reasons: first of all, to....

...remember our history. We remember all the men and women who took great risks and made extraordinary sacrifices to ensure that these institutions that you lead could exist.

We remember that at a critical time in our nation’s history, HBCUs waged war against illiteracy and ignorance -- and won. You’ve made it possible for millions of people to achieve their dreams and gave so many young people a chance they never thought they’d have -- a chance that nobody else would give them. And that’s something to celebrate. And that’s something to be very, very proud of. (Applause.)

 But we also use this week as an opportunity to look forward towards the future and to take stock of the work that we’ve got left to do.  As many of you know, I set a goal that by 2020, the United States would once again lead in the number of college graduates, have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. I set that goal because our success in a 21st century economy is going to depend almost entirely on having a skilled workforce, how well trained our young people are. 

 We cannot reach that goal without HBCUs. We can’t get there -- (applause) -- we can’t get there unless all of you are improving your graduation rates. We can’t get there unless all of you are continuing to make the dream of a college education a reality for more students. Participant videos Democrat president Barack Obama speaking to Black College presidents at the White House 9-13-10

We want to help you do that in every way that we can. Already, we’ve eliminated billions of dollars of unnecessary subsidies to banks and financial institutions so that that money could go directly to your students. 

And that is incredibly important.  (Applause.) And as a consequence of that, we’re making it possible for millions of more students to attend colleges and universities and community colleges all across the country.

 We also want to keep strengthening HBCUs, which is why we’re investing $850 million in these institutions over the next 10 years.  (Applause.)  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. 

 Now, none of this is going to be easy.  I know -- I’m sure you know that. As leaders of these institutions, you are up against enormous challenges, especially during an economic crisis like the one that we are going through.  But we all have to try. We have to try. We have to remain determined. We have to persevere.

That's what the first founders of HBCUs did. They knew that even if they succeeded, that inequality would persist for a very, very long time. They knew that the barriers in our laws, the barriers in our hearts would not vanish overnight.

But they also recognized a larger and distinctly American truth, and that is that the right education might one day allow us to overcome barriers, to let every child fulfill their God-given potential. They recognized, as Frederick Douglass once put it, that education means emancipation. And they recognized that education is how America and its people might fulfill our promise. 

That’s what helped them get through some very difficult times. It’s what kept them fighting and trying and reaching for that better day, even though they might not be able to live to see that better day. That’s the kind of commitment that we’re going to need today from everybody here at the White House, from all of you at your respective institutions. 

We are extraordinarily proud of what you’ve done. But we’ve got a lot more work to do. And I just want everybody here to understand that you’ve got a partner in me, and you’ve got a partner in the Department of Education -- and you’ve got a department with everybody here at the White House who’s absolutely committed to making sure that you can succeed in your mission. So thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.) Thank you.    ####

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Photo credit: Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Comments () | Archives (11)

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As Pres of the United States, shouldn't he be for all colleges & universities and not just black ones?

How does Obabma state that all men and women are created equal and then in his next breath states he wishes to fund BLACK colleges and universities. Why is it OK to label and fund issues based on color. Since I was old enough to remember all I would hear is how the black people want me to look past their color. How unfair it is to judge someone based on the color of their skin. But here we are today funding groups and naming groups soley based on their color. I'm amazed how something was so wrong to do in the past and now is OK. If I were to create WET (white entertainment television) or NAAWP (National Association to Advance White People) there would be riots in the streets. I think that anyone who supports and is in favor of any group that assist individuals based on their color are only feeding into racist views of others. I really don't care what color you are, you can be ignorant at any color. If you must label yourself, why not try "A Proud American" All taxpayer's funds should be divided equal between all legal American citizens.

Excellent point "releggneh", only he's not for ALL colleges and universities! He stated that, "I set a goal that by 2020, the United States would once again lead in the number of college graduates, have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world." Is that goal for ALL students who seek higher education or only minority students? We know what the answer should be; we also know what his answer truly means and they are not, sad to say, the same.

Sounds like Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

Once again, speaking out of both sides like a sideshow barker. How can anyone respect this guy? Every time he speaks in public all of a sudden his speech gets more "black" and peppered with ebonic cadences (Obonics anyone?) as he tries to convince the unwashed masses that he is really one them.

And this guy is out there calling us racist? Where does he get off supporting "black colleges and universities?" I guess this whole "post-racial" presidency was as much of a farce as we thought.

No kidding!

C'mon people! Is this a surprise coming from the mouth of the Bigot in Chief? By now all America should know that Obama is a Black man first, a socialist second...and somewhere down the list we may be able to add, American. Althought that's doubtful. Why do you think that with an approval rating hovering around the low 40% mark, he still gets an 80% approval rating by Black Americans. Boy, if that isn't a racist twist on things, I don't know what is!

Thank you President Obama, Bush, Clinton, and Reagan!
Among American presidents, several have improved upon the Act to make education more equal and accessible to black students. In 1981 President Reagan signed an executive order called the White House Initiative on HBCUs, which called for strengthening the member schools. In 1993 President Clinton signed another executive order to manage the oversight of implementation. In 2002 President Bush transferred Reagan's White House Initiative into the office of the Secretary of the US Department of Education. Therefore, HBCUs have had a significant impact on education in current history. So it's not just President Obama but we all know why the big fuss now!! Let's keep it real people!

I think it's great that Obama is trying to raise the statistics of college graduates by 2020. I would love to see colleges in Pennsylvania output more graduates than in the years past.


Editor, - A Directory of Colleges in Pennsylvania

So, of course we must have white colleges too right? Or would a "white college" be racist?

But then again we have the black congresional caucus too. Has anyone ever heard of a news conference by the "white congressional caucus"?

Nope, I didn't think so! THAT would be racist!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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