HBCUs Finding Avenues of Help with UNCF

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 8/25/2017, 9:12 a.m.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities are in dire need of help. Their lifeline was promised to them this past February …
Mayor Sylvester Turner and UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax/Twitter/ComcastHouston

Historically Black Colleges and Universities are in dire need of help. Their lifeline was promised to them this past February from the Trump administration when he paraded close to 100 HBCUs presidents to Washington, D.C. for that massive photo opp when he signed the new HBCU initiative. Announcing that the initiative would be a top priority for his administration, he moved it from the Department of Education to the White House with the new name Presidential Executive Order on The White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The order was to establish an executive director to the new initiative that would focus on enhancing relations with the private sector, enhancing planning and development, and participating in federal programming. This greatly pleased UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax who at the time called it a move in the right direction to promote the critical mission of HBCUs. Since that historic day that has been the only real step taken to help HBCUs so Dr. Lomax along with HBCUs have felt lied to by the administration.

HBCU Presidents at the White House

HBCU Presidents at the White House

He addressed the issue on a recent trip to Houston at the annual Mayor’s Luncheon benefitting UNCF. An impassion Dr. Lomax said HBCUs presidents were told the Trump administration would support them but instead they hurt students by cutting work study funding by half and decreasing the amount of Pell Grants. Both of these entities are essential for students to help fund their education when they are already financially strapped. “This is a crisis moment for higher education,” said Dr. Lomax. Where Trump and his cabinet have failed to step up, Congressional leaders like Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee have stepped in by helping to pass legislation for students to be able to use Pell Grants to pay for summer school. Congressman Al Green, who was also at the luncheon to present a Congressional Certificate to Dr. Lomax and UNCF, promised to continue to help with funding every child possible to go to college.

The message was universal of all those on the program. Mayor Sylvester Turner included in his remarks, “If we are expecting help to come around the corner, it’s not going to come. We have to take care of our house.” He continued, “Leadership may not come from the top. It sometimes has to come from the bottom.” He challenged the audience to start to hold people accountable when they don’t teach our children and to not grow weary in giving. “I want to create living, walking students and not dead monuments who are successful despite dead history” (referencing Confederate statues honoring dead Confederate soldiers).

One of those living students spoke about her HBCU experience at Huston-Tillotson University. Now in her senior year, Taleah Moore is the Student Government Association President and Former Miss UNCF 2016. She said that attending an HBCU was not her original college choice but she is so glad she attends an HBCU. She has gained experiences like none other and became “woke” in the process. “We are nothing without our education. Students like us are making things happen for tomorrow,” said Moore.

The audience sure became “woke” to the critical needs of HBCUs and responded accordingly filling out pledge cards to put their money behind UNCF and their mission of not wasting minds. UNCF has raised almost $5 billion to send 445,000 students to college. Others can support their ongoing efforts at their next two upcoming events. The UNCF Walk for Education is on September 9th and the A Mind Is Gala is on November 8th. For more information, visit uncf.org.