No Matter The Party – Washington Continues To Fail HBCUs

By William A. Foster, IV

Many people are liberal in principle reluctant in practice. – John M. Burgess


I often wonder if our clamor and desire to make America live up to the idea of what we believe America says it is makes us illogical to the reality of which we live. Dr. Clarke once said “all people relate back to the geography of their origins no matter where they are in the world” which would relate to a group’s conduct in how, why, and who they acquire and share resources with. We can see America’s European ancestry take foundation in almost every geostrategic decision it makes with non-European states and players. There is very little reason to believe though any other group put in the same position would conduct itself any differently. Which is why the continued promise by certain people to just be “patient” is like feeding hot water and calling it soup to a sick patient who needs a brain transplant because they once had the flu. It leaves me to wonder who is more problematic at this point – the doctor who continues to misprescribe on purpose or the patient who knows the doctor is misprescribing and continues to give credence to the doctor.

I got into a debate of sorts on Facebook when I questioned the money the Department of Education was giving HBCUs because it was not clear in their press release if it was in addition to the $850 million (over 10 years) from 2010 or replacing it. Mind you this $850 million was promised just a year after the same funding was to be cut from the budget by the White House. Something my constituents seem to choose to forget. Given our history of being bamboozled I did not think this was that absurd of a question. The young lady told me to be patient because change takes time. Ask anyone what is “change” and I dare say they would be befuddled to tell you. Alas, I expressed frustration that people can not divide and apparently can not question anything Democrats and their savior complex or dependency ideology does for us because it can now hide behind a black face. Dr. Amos Wilson was once famously quoted in commentary about slaves who had risen to head the armies of the very people that had enslaved them, “Just because you rise to head an army, does not mean you’re part of the power system.” Unless we have control of the social, economic, and political capital of this country we are but slave generals serving European interest today and it appears Asian interest tomorrow. The $228 million divided by 5 years divided by 97 schools by the way is a mere $470,000 per school annually. $10.2 million of the money is designated to six “HBCUs” that the Department of Education knows have less than 30 percent African American populations meanwhile Morris Brown received none and still needs $13 million to avoid closing its doors. Why we get excited over miniscule change that is paid out in installments is oft times beyond me. It feels like I am being told “I make $100,000 a year and I know you make $10 and I know I owe you $1000 but let me pay you back over the next 10 years and would you mind being oh so grateful that I am “giving” you this money at all.”

The top 10 HWCU endowments have over $120 billion while the top 10 HBCUs have $1.3 billion according to NACUBO or 92 times less than their HWCU counterparts. Add to that fact HBCU Money’s own research shows that an estimated 20 percent of HBCUs have no endowment and the median endowment for HWCUs in 2008 was $91 million while HBCU median endowment was $6 million. If there is so much belief in correcting the ills of the past am I to believe they could not do a wire transfer of 5% ($6 billion) of that total spread out amongst the top 10 HWCU endowments and completely change the paradigm of all HBCUs and African America institutionally as a whole. The question is almost rhetorical because as a former banker I know it can be done even with complex portfolios. I went even further in an article on HBCU reparations where I called for the top 100 HWCU endowments which are equivalent to $250 billion to transfer 15 percent of their endowments, the percentage of the current African American population in America, which would work out to $37.5 billion. Yes, I recognize there would be some need for approval from the board of trustees and potential legal issues with such a transfer but can we please stop kidding ourselves like it is impossible. Yet, I am told be patient.

Last year alone the National Science Foundation handed out $1 billion in grants to the top ten awarded universities. None of which were HBCUs. I did not say it handed it out over five or ten years. No, it was in one year. Did I also happen to mention that all 100 plus HBCUs combined endowment value is between $1.5 and $2 billion? Our oldest HBCU was started in 1837 which means as an entity HBCUs are 175 years old. That means it has taken 175 years, much of it in a hostile environment where our assets in our communities have always been in danger of being taken and many times are, to accumulate when in the stroke of a pen that number could be doubled by the National Science Foundation. Again, I am told to be patient.

We get so focused on the re-election of the president as if the position is a monarchy that we forget to look at the rest of the political landscape and how possible or realistic it is for the person in office to actually deliver on said promises or our said “dream” of him delivering all our hopes and dreams in a mere 8 years. The last time I looked in Washington the congress was comprised of 535 men and women of which only 8 percent (43) are African American and a whopping 0 percent in the senate. I would even question how much of the 43 African Americans that are in congress had the majority of their funding from African America, which is where the real influence of politicians lie. Our political capital institutionally is so weak it appears we have no choice but to be patient to breadcrumbs. The playing field could be leveled with acknowledgement and the stroke of a pen from Washington or HWCUs themselves but alas I will not hold my breathe for either. As for HBCUs and African America, I guess when a people have been in the desert for over 60 years starved of water, anytime someone spits their way they confuse it with a flood. Even if the person who is spitting at them is the reason they were in the desert in the first place.


2 responses to “No Matter The Party – Washington Continues To Fail HBCUs

  1. I am truly amazed at these statistics. You have opened my eyes to something that I was completely unaware of and I feel urged to open others. We as a community need to be more involved and more aware of what is going on with our educational system because what I just read is so sad. This is a fight that has been going on for a very long time and we swept it under a rug where it has stayed all this time. Patience is the only option at this point but education on this subject matter can go a long way with the right people. I urge you to continue to educate our ignorant nation and maybe one day the “change” you seek will transpire.

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