Amid Controversy, White House Postpones HBCU Conference

White House officials today announced the postponement of its annual HBCU conference, as presidents, advocates and students called for the event to be delayed in the wake of needed leadership appointments to its initiative on black colleges, and following racially controversial remarks and actions by President Donald Trump in recent weeks.

In a release, organizers announced a scaled down version of the event to be held at the White House, where select HBCU community members would be able to engage with staffers and Department of Education officials to determine specific needs of the community, and when an ideal time for future convening could be targeted.

The announcement counters perspective from White House Public Liaison Communications Director Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who in a story published by Buzzfeed this morning, suggested that the conference would forge ahead and that the assembly of a presidential advisory board on HBCUs was in motion in the weeks leading up to the conference.

The interview is a familiar refrain in a trend of White House staffers who have faced controversy after public declarations over policy or internal operations.

Thurgood Marshall College Fund President and CEO Johnny Taylor, among the earliest advocates to call for the conference’s postponement, applauded the administration and affirmed its support for continuing collaboration between the White House and historically black colleges.

“Any suggestion that we are no longer advocating for a strong relationship with the Trump Administration and Congress due to TMCF’s recommendation to postpone the National HBCU Week Conference is completely false and misleading.  TMCF will continue our substantive and positive working relationship with the entire Trump Administration.”

“Reconvening the HBCU Capital Financing Board, after a two-year hiatus, is also a smart and timely move by Secretary DeVos. TMCF holds a seat on that board, and we will continue serving as HBCU advocates on behalf of our 47 publicly-supported member-schools. The series of strategic decisions is a sign this Administration is still listening to the community and is serious about finding solutions to ensure HBCUs continue to thrive.”