This Story Does Not Prove What You Think It Does

Walter M. Kimbrough
5 min readJun 4, 2021

This is the worst story ever written about HBCUs during the Trump era. Why? Because it is the story most cited by his defenders against any claims of racism.

Here are some of the examples.

Folks who literally have no idea what HBCUs are, often can’t spell it, or couldn’t name 2 if you gave them 1 cite this story as PROOF that Trump is not racist because of what he did for HBCUs.

The problem with this is that if you don’t know anything about HBCUs, a 675 word story does not explain the intricate details of HBCU funding. Let me highlight parts of the story that are either wrong or misconstrued and try to give simple answers.

  1. “President Donald Trump on Thursday signed a bipartisan bill that will permanently provide more than $250 million a year to the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, along with dozens of other institutions that serve large shares of minority students.”

The Bipartisan bill was passed by both chambers with veto proof majorities. Trump only did 10 vetoes, and the most high profile was the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 which was overridden because it too had veto proof majorities in both chambers. There was no good political reason for him to try to veto something that was veto proof.

The other part of this sentence reflects that people don’t read. They see $250M and HBCUs, but it is actually $85M for HBCUs

2. “When I took office, I promised to fight for HBCUs, and my administration continues to deliver,” Trump said. “A few months ago, funding for HBCUs was in jeopardy. But the White House and Congress came together and reached a historic agreement.”

This funding is for ONE of about 15 Federally funded programs targeted toward HBCUs. Trump makes it sound like this is all the HBCU funding (he has no clue).

The funding for this program (Title III F) was in jeopardy because Trump did not request money for it in his FY20 budget as it was completing a 10 year, $85M funding cycle from Obama. He created the crisis, then tried to claim credit for fixing it.

3. “We enlisted more than 20,000 supporters to write and call their members of Congress,” Lomax said. “This activated army of advocates became the frontline of support for HBCUs, and they won the battle for our institutions.”

The UNCF created a MASSIVE campaign to lobby Congress to support the new funding, called the FUTURE Act, led by Rep. Alma Adams. Over 65,000 calls/emails sent by UNCF advocated for this bill. Not once did Trump utter or tweet any support for the FUTURE Act. Even when he spoke at the 2019 HBCU Week conference, he never mentioned it. When he did, after it was signed, he thanked only Republicans… and Ivanka???

4. “The bill restores $255 million in annual funding that lapsed Sept. 30 after Congress failed to renew it.”

Again, Trump did not request it in his budget. (It is the line that says strengthening historically Black colleges and universities- mandatory HBCUs). As you can see he proposed cutting all kinds of programs for people of color but go on with that he’s not racist stuff…

I always cite the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, whose past president was very pro-Trump, whose statement clearly indicated Trump’s budget CUT the funding:

However, TMCF believes several proposed cuts could have a detrimental impact on our students’ and prospective students’ ability to enroll, persist and graduate from our nation’s HBCUs. Most notable are the Administration’s proposals to eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program and to cease providing any mandatory Title III funding, which represents an approximately $80 million fiscal cliff for HBCUs.

That mandatory Title III is Title III F, the line item where the FUTURE Act funding comes from. As their statement also indicates, programs that are also important to HBCU students, like WORK STUDY and SEOG, were under attack. Just look at Trump’s last budget request for FY21. He proposed to cut work study by more than half! Those cuts hurt students directly.

Their entire statement is below.

5. “The bill authorizes $85 million a year for historically black colleges and universities, along with $100 million for Hispanic-serving institutions, $30 million for tribal schools and $40 million for a variety of other minority-serving institutions.”

People didn’t read the entire article before posting. That’s why so many said $250M for HBCUs.

6. “Although there was little debate about the funding’s importance, it become tangled in a dispute over the Higher Education Act, a sweeping federal law that governs colleges and universities. As Congress tries to update the law for the first time in more than a decade, it has become a battleground over major education issues dividing both parties. Alexander has made it his mission to to reauthorize the law before he leaves the Senate after 2020…”

Lamar Alexander was looking for a legacy leaving bill since he never got the HEA reauthorized, so he used this as a means to address the FAFSA. Trump never urged them to get it done. But someone else did…

A final thought: The person who wrote the headline is probably different than the author, and the headline is awful. People see it and jump to conclusions because a few words can’t explain what really happened. So you have to read the whole thing, and if it is something complex like educational funding, you need to read some other things as well.

So if you ever seen someone cut and paste this story and post on their Twitter timeline as a defense of Trump, cut and paste my article as the prosecution.

The Prez



Walter M. Kimbrough

12th president of Philander Smith College. 7th president of Dillard University. Now in an Intermission.