April 14, 2016 12:16 pm

President Whose Policies Left HBCUs Bankrupt Will Deliver Howard University Commencement Speech

by Yvette Carnell

In “Double Down: Game Change 2012” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Obama is described as harboring disdain for  “professional blacks”, as opposed to black professionals. According to those close to Obama, it is for this reason that he has no “patience” with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The CBC is deserving of criticism from its constituents, but not Obama, considering that its members have been supportive of the first black president, affording him cover even when his policies undermined their own communities. The CBC has been loyal to Obama, yet he hates them still.

Although poor treatment of CBC members can be relegated to the domain of inside the beltway bickering, the same cannot be said of Obama’s cruel treatment of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

BreakingBrown has covered in detail the damage done to HBCUs by the Obama administration here, here, here and here. 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.

“I do predict several HBCUs will close,” said Jarrett Carter, editor of HBCU Digest. “It’s not a question of if, but when.”

When asked during a meeting about the underfunded HBCUs that represent only 3 percent of America’s colleges, but produce 50 percent of black lawyers, 40 percent of black engineers, and the majority of black public school teachers, Obama shocked CBC attendees with his indifference.

“He said there were some HBCUs that were not good at graduating students and if they did not improve they’d have to go by the wayside,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).

“In other words he didn’t show much empathy for struggling HBCUs.  It was like show me the numbers and if the numbers aren’t where they need to be, that’s it. It was a somewhat callous view of the unique niche HBCUs fill,” Rep. Johnson, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, said at the time.

Even Howard University, the wealthiest HBCU with an endowment of around $460 million, has found itself in financial crisis. NBC Washington reported that Howard cut 84 staff positions  in response to budgetary constraints. Now Howard University, this writer’s alma mater, is receiving President Obama as its 2016 commencement speaker.

Despite all of the evidence showing the damage Obama has done not only to HBCUs, but to the black community in general, proud Bison are still sharing this commencement announcement as if it’s an accomplishment. They’re proudly gleeful when, given the circumstances, they should be shame faced.

If President Obama’s Morehouse commencement speech is any indication, Howard graduates who are celebrating an increasingly rare achievement in the black community, made even rarer by this president’s policies, will endure a bit of finger wagging on their big day.

“Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. I had a tendency sometimes to make excuses for me not doing the right thing,” Obama scolded Morehouse grads in 2013. “But one of the things that all of you have learned over the last four years, is there’s no longer any room for excuses.”

It is doubtful that Obama would’ve made similar remarks at Stanford or Harvard. As Obama’s interactions with the CBC demonstrate, this sort antipathy is reserved for us. This is how he treats black people.


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  • Trueletter son says:

    ” “Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. I had a tendency sometimes to make excuses for me not doing the right thing,” Obama scolded Morehouse grads in 2013. “But one of the things that all of you have learned over the last four years, is there’s no longer any room for excuses.”” one of the few times I really agree with Obama!

  • CarolynMoon says:

    I just hope he doesn’t use that formulaic speech about blacks complaining and not taking responsibility for their lives and those in their communities.  Morehouse graduates weren’t the appropriate audience for that “canned speech” years ago and neither is Howard University. His attitude towards the CBC and defensiveness when it comes to his lack of truly listening to his black constituents as he has with other minorities; leaves many of us stunned.  I agree he’s not just the President of Black America, however, I maintain that we are citizens of this country. He and others that spout that narrative, still view us {unfortunately} as not an integral part of these United States.  That’s the sad part. Also, he’s very much an elitist and for those high appointments; his picks are usually from ivory league schools and when we know that many other universities in this country graduate smart and capable people that contribute significantly to our way of life; gives us cause for great concern.  When he leaves office; it’s for grabs how he’ll be recognized and what his legacy meant to this country. The racist reaction to his Presidency is already touted as his fault with very little focus on how brazenly the republican and conservative congress has stated that they were going to sit on their asses and fight him at every step of the way especially at the expense of the people.  Their befuddlement is that the American voters made him a two term President. Figure that!

  • TinaSue says:

    A positive story, for a change, of Black students graduating from college.  We don’t hear too much about the positive from our people.   It doesn’t matter what Oboma says.  I’m happy for the college graduates.

  • AngryBlackMan2012 says:

    Thank you, Yvette, for speaking truth. I have been waiting on someone to speak up and call out Howard University for its absurd decision to invite the president — who has done more harm to HBCUs than any other president in the last 50 years (that would include Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II) — to give its commencement speech. SHAME ON HOWARD UNIVERSITY for inviting an enemy of HBCUs to grace their stage. I know he’s Black, but my moms used to always say “sometimes it’s the people closest to you who can do the most harm.”

    I surely hope Yvette can get some Howard Alums and Students to show up and protest. You can bet your last dollar if Trump were invited to speak, they’d protest that — and he hasn’t done anything to us. Where’s the Black Lives Matter people? Ask them to turn up on Mother’s Day and confront him like they did Bernie and Hillary.


  • soul60 says:

    This is a great read and I had about this. How about one black scholar  writing a real honest book on this person being a so-called president.
    A book with no stones  unturned.
    It seem’s to many want to stay under the spell and keep on trying to live some dream,which is in  reality is a full blown nightmare.

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