“HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” DeVos said in the statement, released Monday night in advance of Trump’s planned signing of an executive order giving the schools more clout. “They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”
I immediately thought about Up From Slavery, which I recently finished reading. The autobiography of Booker T. Washington details how he was born a slave, migrated to West Virginia after Emancipation, where he taught himself how to read, endured treacherous conditions to become educated at Hampton University and gave his life to help construct Tuskegee University into the HBCU powerhouse education center it is today.
He talks about how he created opportunity in extremely dire circumstances, physically constructed the school with his students and traveled the country to ensure its financial well-being.
“Choice” and “options” in this case also bring images like this one to mind and recall a mindset where “separate but equal” facilities were endorsed by a large number of white Americans because it didn’t affect them. The legacy of slavery and segregation still lingers in the black community to this day.
I doubt there will be an apology or a correction if the Trump administration’s blame passing past is any indication of how this incident will be handled. Indeed, it seems like they could care less about what black people think.
HBCUs were a choice for black students around the time many of them were first founded: The only choice they had if they wanted to get a higher education.