Months after meeting with HBCU Presidents, Trump still giving mixed messages on Black colleges

By Jane Kennedy
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Dr. Lesli Baskerville,CEO National Association for Equal Opportunity

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Repeatedly during his first 100 days, President Donald J. Trump signaled to the leaders and supporters of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that the federal support on which HBCUs depend would remain a priority under his administration.
One sign of hope was an executive order that the president signed in February to move the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from the Education Department to the White House, which some believed was an indication that HBCUs would indeed continue to be a priority under the new administration that had been expressed by the President.
But, doubts surfaced just weeks later after dozens of HBCU presidents and leaders met with the President in the Oval Office Feb. 27 for a meeting that was widely panned as little more than a photo op. That same month, Education Secretary Betsey DeVos was heavily criticized for a statement in which she praised HBCUs as “real pioneers when it comes to school choice”.
HBCUs were actually birthed from legalized racial segregation when African-Americans had no choice but to attend Black schools. It was, in part, the aftermath of that statement that caused graduates at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach to boo and turn their backs on DeVos in protest as she began their commencement speech May 10.
Still, the Trump administration has sent yet another troubling message concerning HBCUs, contained in a signing statement connected to a temporary federal spending measure. The statement said, “Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program Account” among other funds, the order said, “My Administration shall treat provisions that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender…in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.”
This HBCU Capital Financing Program Account, which provides HBCUs with funding at reasonable rates to build new and renovate infrastructure on their aging campuses, was created in 1992 as part of the Higher Education Act passed by Congress. According to Black lawmakers and other HBCU advocates, race is not a criteria and to qualify for the loans the schools must meet standards based on mission, accreditation status and the year an institution was established.
Hours after the White House released the signing statement, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, who is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana) issued a joint response that questioned both Trump’s understanding of the Capital Financing Program and his commitment to HBCUs.
“Trump’s statement is not only misinformed factually, it is not grounded in any serious constitutional analysis,” it read. “For a president who pledged to reach out to African-American and other minorities, this statement is stunningly careless and divisive. We urge him to reconsider immediately.”
Dr. Lezli Baskerville, president/CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), in a lengthy statement noted that HBCUs serve diverse student bodies. “Since their founding, HBCUs have been open to, welcoming and supportive of persons from all races, ethnicities, religions, and both genders except for the gender-specific HBCUs,” she said. “HBCUs enroll roughly 30% of non-African American students. Their faculty is more than 40% non African American. Today 5 HBCUs are more than 50% non-African American. At least one is majority Hispanic serving. One is being shepherded by a white female president.”
If the administration were to withdraw from the program, she added, it would be “devastating to these equal opportunity institutions to whose presidents and chancellors President Trump pledged the largest investments in their history.”
The President has hastened to clarify the signing statement and assuage his critics, stating that the signing statement “does not affect my unwavering support for HBCUs and their critical education missions.” Noting the executive order he signed in February to strengthen their capacity, he said his commitment “remains unchanged.”
On that, Baskerville is willing to give Trump the benefit of doubt and told the Trice Edney News Wire that DeVos’ decision to deliver her first commencement speech at an HBCU “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.” Baskerville also said that the experience will help DeVos become an “even more potent voice” for HBCUs.
But, Conyers and Richmond aren’t buying it: “Sadly and shamefully, HBCUs, including the schools that President Trump met with, are left to wonder whether he wants to help or hurt them,” they said in the joint statement. “If President Trump really wants to help HBCUs, he’ll implement the proposals the CBC has suggested to him in several letters, including the letter we sent him on April 27, calling for robust funding for a host of programs that support students served by these schools.”

President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey Republicans and Democrats call for special investigation of Russia collusion

By Frederick H. Lowe

comeyandobama

 FBI Director James Comey and now former President Barack Obama who appointed him to head the agency in September 2013.
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey, Jr., on the recommendations of U.S. Attorney General James Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the White House announced this afternoon.
“The FBI is one of the our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” President Trump said in a statement.
President Trump fired Comey over the telephone while he was traveling on FBI business in Los Angeles, according to ABC World News.
The FBI has found itself in the middle of a number of high-profile investigations recently, including Russian interference in the presidential election and the circumstances surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails. Trump has been critical of Comey’s actions and comments on both matters, ABC reported.
Earlier in the day, Comey came under fire as it was revealed that Comey made inaccurate statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails by an aide.
Comey, an attorney, served as the seventh Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation beginning in 2013. Former President Barack Obama appointed Comey FBI Director.
The following is the full text of Trump’s letter firing Comey:
Dear Director Comey,
I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.
While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.
It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.
I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors,
Donald J. Trump
The sudden firing of Comey, who Trump – as candidate – had praised for the resurrection of the Hillary Clinton investigation, has been met with deep questions and speculation. Many are alleging a cover up by the White House as Comey was leading an investigation concerning a possible collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia.
“The out-of-the-blue ouster of FBI Director James Comey is more proof that we need an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate any and all ties between the Trump Administration and Russia,” said Congressional Black Caucus chairman, Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-La.), in a statement sent to the Trice Edney News Wire.
“When the Attorney General, who supposedly recused himself from the Russia investigation after it was revealed that he lied under oath about conversations with Russians, recommends firing the only person at the Department of Justice leading that investigation, then there is no one at the Department who can be trusted to investigate. As Ranking Member Cummings has said, there is now a ‘crisis of confidence’ at the Department of Justice. This Administration can’t be trusted to investigate itself. The American people deserve to know the truth. I call on Republicans to put patriotism before party and join Democrats in creating an independent, bipartisan commission so we can get to the truth. If they don’t, then they’ll be aiding and abetting collusion and coverup.”
Alabama’s 7th District Congresswomen Terri Sewell expressed similar concerns in a press release to the Greene County Democrat. She stated, “The independence of our law enforcement agencies from the reach of the White House is a fundamental feature of the rule of law in our country. If true, James Comey’s reported allegations suggest that our President may have tried to obstruct the FBI’s investigation into a matter of national security.”
Republican Sen. John McCain expressed disappointment in the firing and said Trump’s action has underscored the need for a special prosecutor.
“While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President’s decision to remove James Comey from office,” McCain said in a statement released by The Hill newspaper. “I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The president’s decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.”

Trump Atrocities Report (TAR)

trump-1The  Greene County Democrat begins a new column this week entitled Trump Atrocities Report (TAR) in which we will explain some of the outrageously negative and harmful actions taken by President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Administration. The motivation for this column came from a discussion at a recent meeting of the Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy, an Alabama collaborative of 40 social justice organizations.
Some of these actions will be legislative changes, overzealous cuts in Federal regulations, appointees that are unqualified or chosen to destroy the government function they were asked to head up and official statements that do not make sense or are ‘alternative truths’.
Some of the atrocities are where President Trump or members of his family will get a financial benefit from their position or have a clear conflict of interest.
We are starting with some blatant examples of atrocious conduct by Trump. We already have a long list of items to make this a weekly column.
We hope you will clip out this column and share it with your friends especially those working people and women who voted for Trump thinking he would improve their lives. We want to educate and persuade them that they made a grave mistake in voting for Trump and his supporters so that they will not repeat their error in future elections.

Atrocity No. 1: Selecting a cabinet of millionaires and billionaires who are unqualified and chosen to destroy the department or agency they were nominated by Trump to lead. A few examples:

a. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions for Attorney General. Sessions has opposed voting rights, civil rights, womens rights, LGBTQ rights and most human rights. He has been nominated to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer to enforce the laws protecting these rights that he does not believe in.

b. Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. She does not support public schools, never personally attended a public school and did not send her children to public schools. She has never used the Pell grant or college student loan programs she has been asked to administer. She did make $200 million in campaign contributions to Republican lawmakers in the past five years, which paved the way for her confirmation.

c. Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt is a “climate change denier” who has sued the EPA twenty times to remove regulations on clean air, water and nature as Oklahoma Attorney General.

2. Atrocity No. 2: Removing the Obama regulations that prevented the mentally ill from securing a permit to own a gun. This is the first of many regulatory changes dictated by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which will make our nation a more dangerous place to live!

3. Atrocity No. 3: The ‘Muslim Ban’, which prevents visitors from seven Mideast countries from entering the United States. This is part of Trump’s unconstitutional attack on immigration and refugee relief. More than 60,000 legal visitors and H-1B visa holders were stopped from entering the country and there was chaos at the nation’s airports, until Federal courts intervened to correct this injustice. This action gives terrorist organizations a “trump card” in recruiting more members and has the opposite effect of keeping us safe!

4. Atrocity No. 4: Removing regulations that required transparency in the payments by American corporations to foreign governments. This change was enacted on the day that former Exxon-Mobil Oil CEO, Rex Tillerson was elevated to become Secretary of State. Someone needs to explain how this regulation permitting oil and gas companies to hide bribes to foreign governments helps American workers to get more jobs!