Does President Obama Support HBCUs?

The last question President Obama took at a town hall meeting at a Louisiana high school, Thursday, came from a student at Southern University in Baton Rouge. The president’s answer has set off a debate over how his administration has treated historically black colleges–a sore point for some black educators who took great pride in the election of the first black president of the United States.

[Related: Black Students Excel at Top Colleges]

The student’s comment to President Obama: “Most times, when I go recruit off of high schools, most of the time a lot of them say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to an HBCU college. I feel like if I go to an HBCU, I won’t get as many opportunities as a student at … LSU or Tulane.’ So what is your … advice to students like me, thousands of students like me who go to HBCUs, and us finishing the course in order to be great leaders in this society?”

President Obama responded by affirming the “powerful” tradition of historically black colleges in training many leaders, and said he believed that employers and others would respect those “making the kind of presentation you make or a Morehouse man makes or a Spelman young lady makes,” naming two of the more prestigious historically black colleges.

He then went on to say that “there’s a range of challenges that HBCUs face. Some are doing great; some are having more difficulty. And some of that’s good. Look–or some of it is the result of good things. We don’t live in a society where African Americans are restricted in what colleges they can go to. And I want them to be able to go to an LSU or a Tulane as well as a Southern, as well as a Morehouse, as well as a Howard or a Spelman. So more opportunities open up–that’s good.”

Read more at Inside Higher Ed.