By Janice K. Neal-Vincent, Ph.D,
The Biden-Harris Administration’s investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities is unprecedented. While striving to “build these colleges up better than they were before,” they delivered through COVID-19 emergency relief funding and the discharging of HBCU Capital Financing loans more than $5 billion.
In March Biden signed the $1.9 trillion economic-stimulus package. America’s 100 black colleges will gain $1 billion immediately. Add to that $1.6 billion yet to come this year.
In his executive order entitled the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Biden asserted that the Federal government is responsible for promoting modern solutions for HBCUs as their opportunities and challenges “are as diverse as the institutions themselves and the communities they serve.”
The Biden-Harris Administration’s pledge to HBCUs seems to project positive strides for goal attainment. In a recent proclamation, the President declared Sept. 5 through 11 as the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities week. He called upon every American to acknowledge via programs, ceremonies and activities, contributions made by HBCUs for the betterment of society.
During a discussion around the Administration’s commitments to HBCUs and the important work HBCUs are doing to address COVID-19 at their institutions and in communities throughout the nation, Trey Baker, White House senior advisor, gave the administration high marks. He spoke glowingly of a “phenomenal” and “built-in” benefit for HBCUs.
Baker asserted that the Biden-Harris Administration has done more than previous administrations in the financial restoration of HBCUs. “The week celebrates the assistance that can be provided from the administrative level. It’s doing everything it can possibly do,” he added.
Reflecting on COVID-19, Dr. Cameron Webb, senior policy advisor for COVID-19 Equity, White House COVID-19 Response Team, pointed out that 3 out of 5 or 60% of blacks have been vaccinated. “HBCUs are requiring vaccinations for students to come back, and students are getting vaccinated. [They] are returning to their home towns to encourage others. The tragedy is those unvaccinated,” he stated.
Not letting up on the unvaccinated, Cameron maintained: “The science is really clear. People need to know that there is disinformation. There are people who have degrees who still are swayed by disinformation.”
Mentioning that people should seek what is truth, Webb indicated that the threat is the virus. “Almost 33% of people who get COVID have long-term symptoms. We went through a vigorous process of evaluation. This is a time to be information-hungry and to get the facts. People need to use high standards. They are making terrible decisions. It’s tragic that blacks resort to distrusted information,” he said unapologetically.
Webb referred readers to the following trusted sites on COVID-19 vaccinations: vaccines.gov; cdc.gov and .hss.gov.