The White House has released its list of 62 ‘HBCU All-Stars,’ the latest cohort of student ambassadors from HBCUs nationwide charged with promoting black college excellence and its White House Initiative on HBCUs.
The program, established under the Obama Administration in 2014, releases its latest round of honorees as President Donald Trump contends with multiple controversies rooted in racial and cultural antagonism. Days ago, Trump stoked activists with his condemnation of players in the National Football League taking a knee during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.
That headline came on the tail end of reiterating his lightning rod stance on the violence in Charlottesville, following a conversation with Republican Senator and new HBCU Caucus member Tim Scott (SC).
The presidential hot takes parallel internal issues within the all-stars program itself, which drew attention a few weeks ago when outgoing ambassador and Howard University alumna Tiffany Brockington publicly petitioned for the postponement of the annual White House’s HBCU conference.
That petition seemingly divided members of the program, prompting members of its alumni association to denounce the petition and to call for unity behind the conference in a public letter.
“The HBCU All-Star Alumni Association understands that this is a critical time for HBCUs, the Initiative, and the HBCU community. The HBCU All-Star program, in particular, is still in its infancy having only inducted three cohorts with plans of a fourth. Going forward, we must be strategic and intentional to avoid organizational decline. Organizational decline is characterized by politics and power where members are more concerned with their personal goals over those of the organization. We would like to reiterate that the statement and petition released in opposition of the conference are neither the opinions of the larger HBCU All-Star community, nor the members of the HBCU All-Star Alumni Association. Rather, they are opinions of few.”
The conference was held with a condensed format, and drew mixed response from attendees and media coverage.