Postpone the 2017 White House HBCU Week Conference!
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Greetings HBCU Students, Alumni, Stakeholders, and Supporters!
Within the last two weeks, several HBCU Stakeholders and advocacy organizations have expressed their concerns regarding the 2017 White House HBCU Week Conference. The concerns shared by Rep. Alma Adams (Co-Chair of the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus), Rep. Cedric Richmond (Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus), Mr. Johnny Taylor (CEO & President of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund), and Dr. Michael Lomax (President & CEO of the United Negro College Fund) are concerns that should be assessed with the highest respect because these are people and advocacy organizations that have a history of working on our behalf. They have demonstrated a high level of commitment (and understanding of) to the HBCU community.
Recently, I learned that someone has been tapped to be the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. That person is an individual who would cause dissension instead of unification among our Stakeholders and in the HBCU community. (I trust the Source of that information).
Our Stakeholders are asking for the Trump Administration (those appointed officials---The Honorable Betsy DeVos, The Honorable Andrew Bremberg; Mrs. Omarosa Manigault-Newman, and Mr. Ja’Ron Smith) to exercise prudence, to postpone the 2017 White House HBCU Week Conference.
Our Stakeholders have outlined many reasons why they believe that the 2017 White House HBCU Week Conference should be postponed. Unfortunately, our Stakeholders and HBCU Presidents are not the only people waiting for a response from the Trump Administration. HBCU Students have been waiting. A group of us, known and chosen as White House HBCU All-Star Ambassadors, have been waiting.
The Third Cohort of White House HBCU All-Star Ambassadors have been vigilant. We have been very intentional about being heard by our Stakeholders and the White House Initiative on HBCUs career leadership. Honestly, it is beyond difficult trying to be effective in such a dysfunctional environment.
The Third Cohort was not allowed to attend the February meeting at the White House or the Library of Congress with our Stakeholders and Presidents. Instead, we lobbied for a meeting with the Secretary of Education, the Honorable Betsy DeVos. We were granted a meeting with Secy. DeVos for April 19, 2017. Prior to that meeting, on April 14, 2017, we submitted all of our questions, comments, and concerns to her office so that we could have a substantive meeting. It was more or less a “meet and greet.” We were assured that our questions, comments, and concerns would be addressed. It has been 95 business days and our questions, comments, and concerns have not been addressed. Our request for the follow up meeting has been ignored as well.
On March 3, 2017, at the Howard University Sesquicentennial Charter Day Dinner, Mrs. Omarosa Manigault-Newman (and Mr. Ja’Ron Smith) extended an invitation to the Third Cohort to come to the White House to discuss the HBCU All-Star Ambassador program and our needs as HBCU Students. We met with Mr. Ja’Ron Smith on or about April 5th, 2017. We had hoped that meeting would be substantive. Mr. Ja’Ron Smith listened intently to us and assured us that we would have a follow up meeting including the presence of Mrs. Omarosa Manigault-Newman. It has been 102 business days and we still have not had a joint meeting with Mr. Ja’Ron Smith and Mrs. Omarosa Manigault-Newman.
The 2017 White House HBCU Week Conference should be postponed until an Executive Director is identified (yes) but also until and unless The Trump Administration (Secy. DeVos, Mrs. Omarosa Manigault-Newman, and Mr. Ja’Ron Smith) have honored the commitments that they made to us.
The only people who directly suffer from this dysfunction are the students. Beat the dysfunction.
Truth & Service still matter. We must live in our truths and be of service to our communities.
Postpone the 2017 White House HBCU Week Conference.
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