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Historically black colleges view Trump administration warily, but also with some optimism

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Since taking office, President Trump has pledged “unwavering support” for the critical educational missions of historically black colleges and universities, invited leaders of those institutions to the White House and even dispatched his Education secretary to deliver her first commencement address of graduation season at a historically black school.

The moves, by a president who won just 8% of the black vote in November, have surprised and pleased some African American educators, who say Trump already has outpaced the steps taken by previous administrations, including that of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama.

While some leaders and groups associated with black colleges have welcomed the young administration’s overtures, others -- notably students -- remain wary of Trump and assail the White House as tone-deaf and insensitive. Those views were on display last week when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. As DeVos began to speak, students booed and turned their backs on her.

Since his inauguration, Trump’s most overt outreach to African Americans has been his efforts to woo students and leaders of black colleges that were founded in the years after the Civil War and today include 101 public and private schools nationwide.

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