Breaking Brown

April 3, 2014

Has Any President Done More to Damage HBCUs Than Barack Obama?

Has Any President Done More to Damage HBCUs Than Barack Obama?

Barack Obama

by Yvette Carnell

In a conversation with writer Pascal Robert, he challenged me to find one president who has done more damage to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) than Barack Obama. I was at a loss. On BreakingBrown, we’ve discussed the damage done to HBCUs by the Obama administration here, here, here and here, but let’s just lay it out once more:

  • Due to a unilateral decision by the White House, the number of PLUS loans granted was unexpectedly cut in half.
  • This policy change forced 28,000 HBCU students to drop out, and cost schools $150 million.
  • Howard University, the wealthiest HBCU with an endowment of around $460 million, has found itself in financial crisis.
  • This is what happened:  In what United Negro College Fund President Michael Lomax calls a “nasty surprise” , the Obama administration “has begun denying student loans to disproportionately large numbers of black parents because of blemished credit histories.”
  • “I do predict several HBCUs will close,” said Jarrett Carter, editor of HBCU Digest. “It’s not a question of if, but when.”

And before you accuse Republicans of being worse than Obama, read this executive order from Ronald Reagan on HBCUs. Obviously, our current Ivy League president doesn’t share Reagan’s enthusiasm.

This is a stunning reveal, because it demonstrates that Obama hasn’t just ignored black people. He has damaged black people, and black life as a consequence. Robert counts himself among those who expected Obama to do nothing for black people, but he never expected Obama to take actions detrimental to the black community in general, and black institutions specifically.

Before you go saying that Obama is not the president of Black America, consider that from a pure political perspective, there is no denying that Obama could not have won the White House without a high black turnout in 2008, especially in Southern states like Virginia and North Carolina. And where is the exchange for that vote? All Obama has done is tear down HBCUs, wag his finger at Morehouse grads during their commencement, preach at CBC members about putting on their marching shoes, and toss a little charity in the direction of black boys.

So if you have to admit that even Reagan was more charitable to HBCUs than Obama, then the question becomes… what was it all for? If you still have that “Yes We Can” horizon bumper sticker on the back of your car, now’s a good time to rip it off. I doubt if anyone will even notice.

0 likes Black News , Black Politics , featured , ybw #
Share: / / /

22 thoughts on “Has Any President Done More to Damage HBCUs Than Barack Obama?

  1. Watchful says:

    I’m waiting for all his defenders/enablers to come to his defense … if they still dare.

  2. IAmGoingPlaces says:

    This is was interesting read. I counted myself amongst those who said he wouldn’t do much, if anything, for the black community. Nonetheless, it does not surprise me that such damage has occurred. However, HBCU’s need to do better a better job with competing. Lacking far behind in quality facilities in addition to extreme costs of attendance does not make them an attractive choice against the white schools with outstanding facilities and cheaper cost. I know they are struggling for cash but this has been an issue that’s only grown over the years so they could have done better in regards to acting on the issue when the economy was good. It takes money to make money, I know HBCUs have less but with proper management, they could have made things happen. The government has not really been on our side so we not stop trying to rely on it for help so often.

  3. TheAlphaGriot says:

    Hilarious. Poor Obama Haters. Here is yet another example of pseudo intellectuals hugging each other with content that is light on substance.  The Obama administration’s move on the Plus Loans was dispicable for sure. A mistake. A disaster. And it has had a negative impact on HBCUs. No doubt. 
    But he is not hardly a President that has done the most harm to HBCUs. To the contrary, he is the President that has supported HBCUs the most. Obama set aside $98 million in the Department of education for HBCUS. Unprecidented. For capital financing ($20 million) for supporting Black graduates ($64 million) for STEM programs for Black Folks at the National Science Foundation ($103 million), Pell Grant Increased to $5,710. Oooops. 

    Presidents and other administrators are not hardly saying that Obama is the President that has hurt HBCUs the most; they would not agree with that ridiculous proposition. 
    As a graduate of an HBCU (twice), I can tell you that the threats to HBCUs are not hardly coming from the White House. It has been a long time since the federal government has provided meaningful support to these institutions. State support has waned over time as well. Not to mention that we, as Black folks don’t really support our own institutions. That’s before we get to poor physical plant, mismanagement, poor customer service and inflated prices. As a Black community, we have our own cross to bear in terms of the survival of HBCUs. 
    And to cry about the Plus Loans, arguing that it is outrageous that loans are being denied because of a poor credit history is just hilarious. Duh, people with poor credit don’t usually get loans because it is not likely that they will be able to pay them back. Right? We call that fiscal responsibility. I actually don’t agree with the Plus Loan decision. I don’t. Bad move. But arguing then, that the loss of funding has lead to the President being the one who is doing damage to HBCUs is just specious and amusing.

  4. TheAlphaGriot says:

    Let me put it a different way. Part of the premise of this argument is that Blacks were sufferring from the downturn in the market and the recession which contributed to poor credit ratings. This is true. But a big part of that…remember…was that Banks were giving predatory loans…to people with poor credit or who otherwise should not have qualified for loans. Remember? It was a crime. Those loans should not have been given in the first place. 
    So now…someone wants to argue…that we should give Plus Loans to people who have a poor credit history (for whatever reason). That’s a bad argument. Sorry. Haven’t we learned a lesson about that kind of practice? It is silly. 
    On the other hand, I would argue that If the President wanted to demonstrate more sincerity in his “support” of HBCUs…he might offer grants (rather than loans) to poor African American students who have a strong academic background.

  5. Watchful says:

    I found a coupla articles that offer some additional insights on this issue, but I have to say that I’m still not optimistic that much, if anything, will be done by this administration to financially assist HBCUs and the first article pretty much alludes to that from Sec. of Education, Arne Duncan’s comments.

  6. DarnelCooper says:

    Watchful Not going to bother. The number speak for themselves. Besides,.. I notice you ignored the three folk who commented above you who did defend the President.

  7. Watchful says:


    Not gonna bother doing what, exactly? What ‘number’ r u referring to, exactly?  I didn’t ‘ignore’ anyone since I don’t recall anyone, other than u, that replied to my comments.

    That said, I did post links to articles that I read regarding this topic and I also commented on a small segment of one of the articles. If u’re bothered by my initial comment to this thread then I have to assume u’re one of those to whom I referred, which is all well and good. If u r, in fact, a member of that group u’re numbers r legion, but they’ve definitely declined a bit since he first took office.

    At least some have come to their senses when it comes to BO, albeit a tad late I might say. 🙂

  8. imafundie says:

    TheAlphaGriot  Would that all colleges would stand on their own without a nickel of gov support.

  9. imafundie says:

    Would that not one nickel be donated to any college whether catering to blacks, whites, or any others from the public largesse. If a school is providing a quality service, they will stand on their own financially; if they aren’t they won’t. Simple economics 101!

  10. KellyKlein says:

    The time as long ago ended for Black people to believe that just because a public figure is Black, they will act in the best interest of our community.  Basically there is open war declared on our jobs, our families and the pillars of our economic/social life and we’re still in a begging posture asking for things that should just be a given.
    A recent study about African-American buying power showed that by 2015 we will have 1.5 TRILLION dollars in purchasing power.  If we were a separate nation, that would make us the 16th largest economy on the planet.  Yet almost NONE of that works toward ending our oppression.  150 years after legalized slavery we are still occupying the same roles we were brought over here to occupy:  generating wealth for other people.
    Now I’m not saying it’s all about the money.  But it’s common knowledge that HCBU’s, for whatever reason, have one of the lowest alumni donation rates around.  Sometimes it almost seems like a badge of honor for those in our community who were lucky enough to earn college degrees to brag about how they’ve moved on, that they are “beyond race”.  And instead of using the resources they are lucky enough to have to build and grow independent institutions, they demonize the behavior of poor black people who have next to nothing in conferences that accomplish nothing but a lot of talk.  Then when the government, that already proven they are not working in our best interests, does some shady mess, we cry out “Poor us!”

  11. KellyKlein says:

    TheAlphaGriot   I understand where you’re coming from but I also want to point out, in regards to predatory loans, it wasn’t just about giving people loans they couldn’t afford.  Mortgage companies were deliberately pushing black people into subprime loans even though they qualified for better rates because they got a bigger commission from them.  This was blatant criminal activity that these banks got away with because we are too busy blaming the victims.

  12. Watchful says:


    Exactly, and not in the 5 yrs this administration has been in place have they, thru their AG Mr. Holder lifted a finger to bring ANY of the major players in this massive fraud scheme to justice despite all the empty rhetoric this POTUS has spewed about reining in the abuses of the major banksters. That’s cuz those same banksters were the largest contributors to his campaign so he’s beholded to them. Unfortunately, far too many of our ppl r either completely oblivious to this fact or have chosen to ignore it.

  13. Dessalines says:

    Why do descendants of people who have invested over 300 years of free labour to enrich the country have to take out loans to pay for higher education?

  14. Dessalines Nice observation.

  15. Johnw11 says:

    KellyKlein  “…they demonize the behavior of poor black people who have next to nothing in conferences that accomplish nothing but a lot of talk.”
    Good point.
    And no one does this more than President Obama.

  16. SamuelBurnham says:

    Greetings all. I want to expose us all to a solution, concerning this concept.  And considering the fact that whether you love or hate Obama, Black folks need to have an entity that is 100% dedicated to the needs and interests of Black folks, period!  The capital words and phrases are not internet shouts, but just for emphasis.

    Solution To the Problems facing HBCUs:  One Million Conscious Black Voters & Contributors: (OMCBV&C):

    What if:
    1. One million CONSCIOUS Black Voters got together to practice “Blackonomics” with their vote: each one just giving a dollar to the cause would equal $1 Million going to an HBCU in need, in relatively over night!
    2. What would happened if 1 million conscious Black voters withdrew from whatever political parties they are members of (to include the Democrats & “Independent” Party) and register as  NO PARTY AFFILIATION ONLY… and vote on a set of LITMUS TEST ITEMS RELEVANT TO THE NEEDS OF BLACK FOLKS IN THIS COUNTRY?!?

    3. What if you found out this organization has been founded during the holiday season and now ask if you are “one of the million”…if you  will help us reach that magic number of 1 million out of 46.5 “Black” folks here in America?

    well, as James Clingman of Blackonomics quotes in his “What’s In A Million” article, “whosever will…”

    If you want to get more information, the Carl Nelson radio show, listed on the OMCBV&C website, listed toward the beginning of this reply, gives you the run down, other than that, tells you “What One Million Conscious Black Voters Can Do”!

    Love Obama or not, the “White House” and the American economy is still White-owned-and-controlled…and could care less about Black folks.  One Black man in office…even if he did everything he could for HBCUs…is not powerful enough to change that.  We are the change we are seeking!

    Time to wake up.  Time for a new way of thinking.  I am one of the million. What about You?

  17. VeeDubb says:

    If we are to believe the following quote, then the Obama Administration is responsible for approving plus loans and not various lending institutions? “This is what happened: In what United Negro College Fund President Michael Lomax calls a “nasty surprise” , the Obama administration “has begun denying student loans to disproportionately large numbers of black parents because of blemished credit histories.”
    As an Alumnus of a HBCU, I have a difficult time believing that President Barack Obama has done the most damage to HBCUs. I emplore all HBCU Alumni to financially support your respective alma maters. HBCU sustainability starts with us!

  18. greeneink says:

    HBCUs damaged themselves, by having bad reputations even with Black people and for having long-term financial issues that they’ve never been able to resolve.
    Some (a lot) of the parents of those Black students demand that they do not go to an HBCU because they don’t like what they stand for and prefer their children be whitewashed and sanitized for dealing with a world that will always consider them inferior or subordinate.

    In the meantime, HBCUs have been dying and bleeding out for a long time because Black people themselves have not given much of a squat about them … they won’t even get together and raise funds to save their OWN schools.

    If Black people don’t care, if Black people allow themselves to be called n-words, if Black people support folks like Steve Harvey, if Black folks watch and support and pay to be seen as a lowlife bunch whether they have money or not, if they allow failure and subservience and low-balling and being the low-hanging fruit on the branch, then so be it.

    Even Obama can’t “hope” that will “change.”

  19. communitydeveloper says:

    My undergraduate and soon to be graduate degrees are from major universities that have huge endowments — they each have a development department that has no limit to the strategies employed to suggest ways for you to depart with your money, even to the point of including them in your insurance policies, and on and on!  I have friends who attended HBCUs, and having followed stories about the financial standing of numerous of them, most if not all have been struggling forever.  Given the fact that most blacks in America received their undergrad degree from an HBCU, I find such a statistic incredulous.  The fact of the matter is that the schools should not be struggling, but rather wealthy. As one responder so clearly articulated among the various replies herein, the buck stops with those who graduated from an HBCU.  Collectively, we as African Americans must learn to value the institutions that provide us the educational underpinning to succeed by financially rewarding them.  So let the lesson begin, and the action to follow.  PEACE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Support Independent Black Media

Support Independent Black Media

Make a One Time Donation

Subscribe to our Exclusive Paid Newsletter