To Paris With Love

Walter M. Kimbrough
9 min readMay 31, 2023

When folks want to defend Trump on anything about race, they point to HBCUs. They then conduct simple Google searches and share the same handful of articles to prove their point. Mind you, they never read any of the articles or even fact check them as they are often opinion pieces.

Like this one.

Paris Dennard is unique in that he has actually worked for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the organization that supports public HBCUs. So he does have some working knowledge of HBCUs. That makes his lies even more despicable because he knew (or should have known) the truth but chose his politics over truth.

Here is one of the articles he wrote in support of Trump. If you see anyone post it, share this fact checked version.

When President Trump says he saved Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) he is 100% correct because he did. He could have cut their funding in his budget, signaled to Republicans they were not a priority, vetoed all bills increasing funding, and refused to publicly tout value, but he didn’t. During this year’s observance of HBCU Week, the record shows that there has been no greater champion for HBCUs in the White House than Donald J. Trump.

“He could have cut their funding” is interesting because time and time again, for each one of his 4 skinny budgets, he tried to cut HBCU funding. Congress always came back and added money back and even increased it. Many news stories noted this.

Donald Trump did not attend an HBCU, no one in his family went to an HBCU, and he was honestly not that familiar with their rich history, legacy, or importance before he became President. However, none of those things has stopped him from becoming a cheerleader for these amazing schools.

I was in the Roosevelt Room outside the Oval Office one month after his inauguration with Black leaders like Secretary Ben Carson, Lynne Patton, Darrell and Belinda Scott, and Ja’Ron Smith when I was able to witness history. That was the day President Trump committed to be a champion for Black schools. The President told Lynne Patton to get information and tweet it out to the American people about HBCUs because he was visibly bothered upon learning that his predecessor, the first Black president, had cut HBCU funding from his first budget, oversaw the horrific parent plus loan debacle that devastated HBCU students, parents, and campuses for years, and at best, had a lukewarm record of support from the HBCU community. Former President Obama never spoke at the annual White House HBCU Week Conference and most certainly did not invite all the HBCU presidents, chancellors, and external leaders to the White House to meet with Vice President Biden or himself.

Here is President Obama’s first budget. Under Strengthening HBCUs (mandatory) you see it went from 85M to 0. The program expired and he zeroed it out. He took a beating for it as well/

So he got the message and came back with a 10 year, $850M funding proposal under the SAFRA Act. He said, “We also want to keep strengthening HBCUs, which is why we’re investing $850 million in these institutions over the next 10 years.” President Obama, 9/13/2010.

Trump DID THE SAME THING with his FY20 budget, which caused the FUTURE Act to be needed. The only difference is Trump took full credit for something he had no role in developing AFTER he let it die just like Obama.

Obama did oversee the change in the Parent PLUS Loan program which created hardships for HBCUs, no doubt. It should have been discussed with all schools with high Pell populations before enacting. And although the change was handled poorly, the research indicates that Parent PLUS has been harmful to Black families.

In stark contrast to the Obama/Biden Administration, President Trump never cut HBCU funding. After a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, their leader, Rep. Cedric Richmond said the President told him he was going to make a lot of people upset because he promised the HBCU president and chancellors he would not cut their funding when he was making cuts to everyone one else. It was a promise made and a promise kept.

This is a bold-faced lie. He tried to cut funding every year. I laid it out in this thread:

When HBCU leaders were in a serious panic because of an impending end to Title III Part F funding, the Administration went to work with legislators like Senator Tim Scott and Rep. Mark Walker to get the GOP to support something even better. Senator Lamar Alexander ultimately came up with a compromise bill fully supported and pushed by President Trump that not only saved that funding line, but it was the first time HBCUs received $255M in permanent funding through the FUTURE Act. President Trump kept his word.

Hell of a spin. Rep. Alma Adams led this push all the long- she wrote the damn bill! And the $255M is for HBCUs and MSIs, with only $85M just for HBCUs. That statement is factually incorrect.

And again, there was a panic because Trump zeroed it out.

When HBCUs fought for eight years of the Obama/Biden Administration to have the massive $300 million debt incurred from Hurricane Katrina absolved, nothing happened until the Trump Administration made it happen. The President knows the media and the power of the media and good PR. This is exactly why you have seen enrollment increase at HBCUs. This is why you have seen corporations support HBCUs and HBCU organizations. President Trump literally told the world HBCUs matter.

The Katrina loan forgiveness is probably the only thing the Trump administration can clearly show they did a better job with, and it is something they mentioned the least. This notion about it causing an increase in enrollment is nonsense, especially because you can barely find Trump talking about this accomplishment.

When it came to positive press and media attention about HBCUs, thank President Trump. Having Talladega College Marching Band perform in the inaugural parade, made headlines.

It did but it wasn’t all positive…

Having an historic meeting with over 80 HBCU leaders at the White House, made headlines. Moving the White House HBCU Initiative office back into the White House, made headlines. Relaunching the HBCU Capital Finance Board to make $500 million available to support HBCUs, made headlines. Signing legislation increasing federal funding for HBCUs by 13%, made headlines.

First, Trump did not meet with us. It was a photo opp. And if Paris, and all the others who made this a big deal knew their history, they would know HBCU presidents have been invited to the White House a number of times, including with President Carter when the White House HBCU Initiative was created… in 1980!

August 8, 1980

And unlike the photo opp with Trump (there was no meeting), both President Clinton and Vice President Gore (together) had a sit-down meeting where they actually answered QUESTIONS from HBCU presidents.

Being the first sitting President to speak at the HBCU Week Conference, made headlines. Announcing he would end discriminatory restrictions to prevent faith based HBCUs from accessing federal support, made headlines. Providing $960 million in emergency relief for HBCUs during COVID-19 made headlines.

The funniest part of this story was the number of presidents who left the conference EARLY when they found out Trump would be there.

Trump pulled a fast one saying he was ending restrictions on faith based HBCUs receiving federal funds. That was never an issue. You can’t build a church or religious structure but we’ve always had access.

Talking about HBCUs at rallies, in speeches, in meetings, and even historically in Davos, Switzerland, all made headlines and made HBCUs a priority. As a result, more Black Americans took notice, more corporations took notice and that is a good thing and what good leaders like Donald J. Trump do.

It was in Davos where Trump famously said, “I saved HBCUs.” He lied. Dr. Michael Lomax from UNCF took issue with that in a 2020 speech.

Historically, HBCUs have struggled with enrollment, access to federal research grants, corporate support, and sufficient federal and state funding. Had there not been a strong advocate for their survival in the White House from staff, Cabinet Secretaries, supporters, and the President himself, there would have been a series of HBCU closures, massive layoffs, and no means for them to thrive. Thankfully that wasn’t the case because President Trump has consistently prioritized HBCUs.

His opinion but it is not backed with any facts.

In a recent article in the Economist, Kentucky State University President, M. Christopher Brown said President Trump has “been beating the drum on HBCUs as a cornerstone of his education platform from month one of his time in office.” That Presidential drum beat has paid off and made a difference for America’s HBCUs.

I’d like to see the full article for context, but Trump’s education platform as a whole was week, and his support of HBCUs was purely performative. He convincingly said all the things he did for HBCUs, but the facts show a different story.

I’m sure Paris knew this, but he’s a good soldier and his profile grew as one of Trump’s top Black surrogates. But this piece, and others by him, are pure propaganda from Paris.

And I say this, with love.



Walter M. Kimbrough

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