Campus Backlash After Leaders of Black Colleges Meet With Trump
WASHINGTON — It was a scalding message, painted on a university campus sidewalk this week: “Welcome to the Trump plantation. Overseer: Wayne A. I. Frederick.”
What made the message more jarring still was that Dr. Frederick is the black president of one of the country’s most respected historically black institutions, Howard University, founded here 150 years ago as a bulwark of social justice. Other graffiti on campus buildings said, “Wayne Frederick doesn’t care about black people,” and “Make Howard black again.”
And on Thursday, students disrupted a university convocation to protest what they saw as Howard University’s catering to the Trump administration. One student confronted Dr. Frederick, shouting: “Someone might have convinced you that money is more important than people. But we are asking you, in this moment, to choose us, to take a stand for us, and to do right by us.”
The student backlash came after Dr. Frederick and more than 60 other leaders of historically black colleges and universities gathered for a meeting on Monday with top officials of the Trump administration, including the new education secretary, Betsy DeVos. As the meeting was getting underway, participants said, it was interrupted to invite them to an impromptu visit with President Trump in the Oval Office.A photograph of the black leaders smiling and chatting with Mr. Trump around his desk was widely circulated and instantly became a flash point for students who believe the administration has been insensitive to the needs of black Americans.
“Is it a photo op, is it an opportunity for Trump to put himself next to black people and smile?” Llewellyn Robinson, a Howard sophomore, said, after the graffiti had been wiped clean. “Is that the situation we’re dealing with? Or is it truly a seat at the table?”
Howard protesters said they had heard echoes of support — in the form of tweets, student organizations reaching out and the exchange of information on group messaging apps — from students at other prominent black institutions like Spelman, Morehouse, Hampton and North Carolina A&T. An aide to one college president said that concerns about how to deal with the protesters had been a topic of intense phone conversations among the leaders.
Many of the black leaders who met with Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the administration said that they had no apologies for what they called institution building, a chance to make a personal connection with Mr. Trump in the hope that his administration Campus Backlash After Leaders of Black Colleges Meet With Trump - The New York Times: